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Fitter focus: Don’t think you need a hybird? You might want to think again

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One of the most difficult conversations I get to have is with either “baby boomers” or people who have speed that is slowing down as they age. They still believe they can hit 3, 4, 5 and sometimes 6-irons.

Honestly, it’s not that they are unable to hit them in most cases, it is that they are unable to hit them on a playable trajectory. I would define a playable trajectory as a shot designed to fly high enough and land steep enough so it would be able to stop to a front pin location on a normal green.

With the invention of radar devices like Trackman and Flightscope, it now becomes a little easier to have those conversations. When I do these fittings now, I have what I call a “prove it” session when my customer wants to order a 3, 4 or 5-iron when I don’t believe (based on data) that they can create a playable trajectory with those clubs.

What I find in most cases is that the consumer needs not only one hybrid for their set, they usually need multiple, and in some cases; they maybe need higher-lofted fairway woods plus some additional hybrids. By using these radar devices, the consumer can then peer behind the curtain so to speak and see into the mind of the fitter. These radar devices are the key to the process so the consumer can see data proving the fitters’ point.

By showing them how much easier the hybrids can be to launch in the air, pick up more carry yardage and land on more of a playable trajectory I hope that I can accomplish my goal which is to get them a better chance to play better and have more fun.

Here are some reports and Trackman data to back up the claim in the first illustration 5-iron is white and 5-hybrid is yellow

Notice how much higher yellow (the 5-hybrid) is in relation to white (the 5-iron)

This report shows all the key variables—notice the carry, ball speed, height, and landing angle differences between the two.


I really enjoy doing these “gap” fittings. While the consumer might want the new shiny driver or the latest, greatest set of irons, these clubs that fall in between may make or break the consumer’s chances of scoring well. In doing these gap fittings don’t neglect to try higher-lofted woods—sometimes they can be easier to hit than hybrids for certain players.

There is no one perfect set for all players, there is only a perfect set for you and your speed and launch conditions. My personal recommendation is when you go get that next set of irons or just want to see some lower scores, make sure you look into hybrids and higher-lofted fairway woods. Please find a fitter you can trust, and hopefully s/he will have a radar device so you can see data to make an informed decision about what to carry in your golf bag!

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2010, 2014, 2015 & 2017 Merchandiser of the Year-Public Section Northern Ohio PGA Horton Smith Award Winner Northern Ohio PGA 2018 Inducted in Callaway Retail Hall of Fame 2014 Top 100 Fitter from 2013 - Present for Ping, Mizuno, Cobra, Taylormade, Titleist, Mizuno TOP 100 Fitter from 2015-Present Callaway, Wilson Golf Digest Top 100 Fitter from 2015 – Present Average over 400 Fittings a year last 3+ Years Taught over 200 Lessons a year last 3+ Years Graduate for the University of Akron 2000 PGA member since 2014 Website: www.windmillgolfcenter.com

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. freowho

    Oct 26, 2019 at 4:10 am

    I agree with getting rid of irons but hybrids aren’t always the answer. Fairways are still a better option for a lot of people.

  2. David McCune

    Oct 25, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    One thing is getting lost here- We all know Golf is a very mental game. How about playing with the clubs you’re most confident in ? I’ve always been a better sweeper of the ball, and not a great iron player. I have few hybrids I pick & choose from and the biggest iron I normally play is a 6.

    • Gerald Teigrob

      Oct 25, 2019 at 10:38 pm

      I agree with you, David. Nothing is written in stone when it comes to the clubs you put in your golf bag. I like the option of a 4 iron and 4 hybrid/driving iron right now. And I am not losing any length with my irons. I know what I can do with what I play. To each his own. I don’t look and say…my handicap is higher so I need more hybrids. I say I need more help with the long irons so I need less help from a 4 iron hybrid than I used to think I needed. And what many amateurs seem to forget is that a 4 iron now comes with a 19 or 20-degree loft, which is two or three degrees stronger than my last 3 iron and the same loft or so as my 2 iron.

  3. A. Commoner

    Oct 25, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    Amateur golf is chock full of delusional hackers. Face reality and find more enjoyment.

  4. Gerald Teigrob

    Oct 25, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    After eliminating a 4 iron and playing hybrids up to a 6 hybrid in my set, I have gone back to playing more 4 irons. I can still get it airborne and can also play my graphite 4 iron like a driving iron. I know hybrids are helpful for those with slower swing speeds and losing distance, but overall my game is just as good with a 4 iron of 20 degrees in my bag. Sure a 4 hybrid helps on some days, but other days it doesn’t seem to matter as much. I have learned that I do have the ability to play both 4 iron and f hybrid along with a 4 iron driving iron. So I can still enjoy the best of all worlds there! For me, I can get more easily airborne with a 5 iron than a hybrid of similar distance but I am prepared to consider that down the road. So for the time being, I will continue to use my 4 iron option and likely play the driving iron over a hybrid.

  5. Pelling

    Oct 25, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    Or, a golfer could just play a driver, a 5 wood, a 5 iron, an 8 iron, a 54 degree wedge and a putter and shoot virtually the same scores. 6 clubs, carry your bag, no launch monitor needed. Try it sometime.

    • OV

      Oct 27, 2019 at 2:17 am

      I often do but slightly different setup: 3w (coz driver only good of the tee), 4h, 7i, pw, 56, putter. Rarely play with more than 8 clubs.

      Love my hybrids coz no good with long irons. Not because of lack of swing speed, but of talent, lol! Do have 3&5 hybrids but figured the 4 can do the job of both.

  6. Tiger Noods

    Oct 24, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    I hope you took more data than that. This is a very, very small sample. One poor 5-iron is not a reason to leave a 5-iron. The “gap” needs to focus more on the idea that your 5-iron and 6-iron aren’t basically indistinguishable. Getting more distance with a hybrid is only good if it makes a PROPER gap. If you are just adding distance because you can, well, then you’ll have a large gap between that 5-hybrid and 6-iron. Then you’ve made things worse.

    I know Trent knows this, but it reads like MOAR YARDS

    • Mark it Zero

      Oct 25, 2019 at 8:19 am

      Hybird

      • Pelling

        Oct 25, 2019 at 4:30 pm

        Now you’re getting pretty technical, Zero…

    • Bill Ryan

      Oct 25, 2019 at 4:39 pm

      Its quite simple throw out the 4567 irons in garage now listen. Carefully take a 31 28 25 22 19 hybrids from cobra and yes some are Lexie black hybrids and some are Nardo grey men’s (same exact heads but for color Hybrid shaft for proper length. And distances pure Heaven and will never look back and I am a 7 handicap and 69 years old Drop your egos and your scores ??????????????????????

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Instruction

Stickney: The deadly double-cross

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OK. Here we go. Number 17 at Punta Mita. Water all down the left side. OK. Aim right and hit a slight draw—been hitting the ball wonderfully all day, scoring conditions are perfect—I’m ready to make a birdie!

Over the ball. Check my alignments—good! Last look—where we want the ball to end up—good! No swing thoughts—great! Go!

Ball begins on the line I wanted—so far so good—apex perfect. Oh no! Now it’s not drawing! In fact, it’s fading! Crap! There’s out of bounds right! Don’t hit the path…

BOING! Gone. UGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG! The dreaded “double-cross.”

Why does this seem to happen to all of us from time to time (only when there is a problem on one side we’re trying to avoid?) The answer is simply one of three things normally

  • Not committed
  • Poor pivot
  • Faulty grip pressure

Not Committed

This one is simple: Anytime you have conflicting thoughts over the ball and you are unsure of what to do next, step back and regroup! Easy sounding right? Not at all! This take a ton of self-discipline and awareness to actually notice the signs and make the choice to stop yourself in the middle of your routine. If you can, you are one of the few.

Not being committed comes in the physical, mental, and emotional forms. Regardless of which you are fighting on the tee in this situation, it’s best to stop and regroup. If you do not, a double-cross and double bogey can be lurking!

Poor Pivot

Whenever you have doubts about your ability to pull off a shot mechanically the first thing to go is your control of the “pivot” which is how you twist and turn and displace weight. The pivot, per “The Golfing Machine,” controls things like rhythm, balance, the head, the club shaft, etc. so if you “stall out or outrace yourself” then your ball can go anywhere. Usually, when you have trouble that you are trying to avoid, you will tend to slow down in efforts to try and guide the ball—when this happens you will hang back and either hold on or flip it through impact, and this will cause you to lose control of the clubhead and clubface. No bueno!

Faulty Grip Pressure

As stated above, you will find non-commitment in one of three forms, and normally when you have emotional or physical issues your grip pressure will spike. Anytime you have a grip on the club that’s in death-mode, you will find that having any type of normal or consistent release is impossible. When your release becomes an issue so will your ball’s flight. Try your best to relax and let things happen without trying to force them; squeezing the grip too hard can only make things worse.

Now that we know what the issues tend to be, what can we do besides step back? Your goal is to swing the club, just like you do every other time, as normally as possible. The fewer “thoughts” you have, the better. Usually, if you try to stay aggressive, you’ll have a better chance of having the ball land on grass. Try it and you’ll surprise yourself!

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Instruction

TXG: 8 handicap fairway wood & hybrid fitting

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Finishing the full bag fitting for our Mizuno contest winner by dialing in a fairway wood and hybrid!

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Instruction

6 reasons why golfers struggle with back pain: Part 2

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This article is co-written with Marnus Marais. Since 2011, Marnus has worked with some of the world’s best players on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, helping them to maintain optimal health and peak physical performance. His current stable of players includes Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, and Louis Oosthuizen, amongst others.

You can find more information on Marnus and his work at marnusmarais.com

Following on from Part 1 of this article, we examine reasons 4, 5 and 6 for why golfers suffer from low back pain.

Reason 4: Weak Core Muscles

Before we make start making exercise recommendations for this complicated area of the body, it’s worth asking—what is the core exactly? There is considerable debate about this often misunderstood region. Back pain expert Professor Stuart McGill, explains it as follows:

‘The core is composed of the lumbar spine, the muscles of the abdominal wall, the back extensors, and quadratus lumborum. Also included are the multijoint muscles, namely, latissimus dorsi and psoas that pass through the core, linking it to the pelvis, legs, shoulders, and arms. Given the anatomic and biomechanical synergy with the pelvis, the gluteal muscles may also be considered to be essential components as primary power generators’

In a golf context, there is a common myth that the core muscles are our main source of power in the swing. In reality, the main role of the core is to provide stiffness and stable support for force/power transfer from our legs to our upper body

If we can create stiffness and stability in our core, we can help protect our spine and surrounding structures from unnecessary strain whilst also improving swing efficiency—pretty sweet combo!

Due to a combination of perpetual sitting, poor posture and other detrimental lifestyle factors, our cores tend to lose this ability to provide stiffness and stability. We can combat and correct this with a solid core conditioning program. Below are examples of some of our favorite exercises.

Dead Bug with Fitball – the combination of squeezing the fitball whilst extending arm and leg delivers all sorts of great stimulus for the core muscles.

Bird Dog – great for glute, core and back strength

Pallof Press – fantastic anti-rotation exercise. Good for strengthening the core whilst using the ground efficiently

Reason 5 – Not Warming up Properly/Not Warming up at All!

As we’ve explained above, mechanical back pain arises from too much stress and strain placed on the back. During the game of golf, we treat our spines terribly—expecting them to twist, turn and contort with the aim of producing decent golf shots!

If we don’t prepare our bodies for an activity like golf and just go out cold, we significantly increase the chances for strain and stress being placed on the lumbar area.

I’m sure many of you have had the experience of throwing a ball or a stick hard without warming up, and received a nasty sharp pain in your shoulder. Now, if you were to warm up before doing that; stretching your shoulder, making a few practice throws etc, you’d likely avoid strain altogether. Same goes for the low back and the golf swing – without a decent warm-up, there’s every possibility of a strain when trying to rip driver down the first!

By incorporating a warm-up into your pre-golf routine, you can significantly reduce the risk for injury AND help avoid that card wrecking double-double start! As a side bonus, warming up regularly can help your general health, fitness, and wellbeing too.

We know that most amateurs don’t warm up; a study done by Fradkin et. al showed that around 70 percent of amateur golfers seldom warm-up, with only 3.8% reporting warming up on every occasion!

A decent warm isn’t hard and doesn’t have to take ages to complete; research shows that a warm-up of 10-20 minutes is sufficient. In the video below, Marnus gives a thorough guide to a solid warm up sequence.

Reason 6 – Swing Faults

Let’s not forget the golf swing. One of the most common reasons I see golfers struggle with low back pain is that they are unable to “get to their lead side” and “get stuck” on the downswing. This causes the aforementioned excessive side bend and rotation from the low back, which we need to avoid! 

“Getting stuck” on the trail side

Now we aren’t golf coaches and therefore don’t deliver swing advice. However, there are some fundamental movement patterns that most golfers could benefit from practicing. In the videos below, one of our favorite body orientated swing coaches, Richard Woodhouse, is using one of our favorite training tools, the GravityFit TPro, to help teach an efficient movement pattern. The aim is to develop a strong connection between arms and body, using the hips and thorax to rotate, thereby helping to avoid “getting stuck.”

Summary

The absolute best practice for a healthy golfing lower back is working with a golf swing instructor and also a health/fitness professional that understands the body and swing connection. As a team, they would be able to identify and improve your individual swing faults, movement pattern dysfunctions, range of motion deficiencies, muscle weakness, imbalances, and alignment issues.

If you don’t have access to such expertise locally, you may want to check out the online services offered by Marnus and Nick here:

Marnus – https://www.marnusmarais.com

Nick – https://www.golffitpro.net/

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