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Buying new irons? This is the most important fitting parameter

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When golfers head into a club fitting, whether it be their first ever experience or part of a yearly tuneup, there is always one common goal—to play better golf and shoot lower scores.

But the question that often comes up is, “How do I shoot lower scores?” and “What should I be looking for in a club fitting?”

We’re here to help.

What you need to know: Titleist Golf Club Fitting Experience ...

The process

Every fitting should always start with an interview, where the fitter will ask about your game, both strengths and weaknesses—be honest with yourself and the fitter! If you have a trouble club or yardage that your struggle with, speak up. This is your opportunity to work with someone to help you fix any issues with your equipment.

A great fitter will analyze your current game and clubs and will start providing solutions to potential problems you see on the course—maybe it’s a shot shape you are trying to eliminate, or in some cases create a tighter dispersion with your current clubs.

For a driver fit, distance is almost always the main objective but when it comes to irons, total distance should not be the main goal—it should be proximity to target with consistent distances. One of the best ways to reduce your proximity to your target is by hitting it higher and stopping it faster. This is why descent angle is one of the most important parameters when getting fit for irons.

Descent angle

Descent angle is also known as land angle. This is the angle at which the golf ball makes contact with the ground, and the steeper it is the quick the ball will stop.

Many golfers struggle to create enough speed to increase launch and spin and the average for many players heading into a fit for the first time can be around 40 degrees while on the PGA Tour the average in 50 degrees with a 6-iron—on the LPGA Tour, it’s 46 degrees—that’s a big difference in stopping power.

Check out the video below featuring Titleist Master Fitter Glenn Mahler to see how, in a real-world scenario, land angle can help you hit it closer and improve your scores.

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Ryan Barath is part of the Digital Content Creation Team for GolfWRX. He hosts the "On Spec" Podcast on the GolfWRX Radio Network which focuses on discussing everything golf, including gear, technology, fitting, and course architecture. He is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Robert Cangey

    Jun 30, 2020 at 7:15 pm

    Lots of game improvement irons have really strong lofts. I’ve found that the trouble with the strong lofts don’t always show themselves until around the 6 iron. Problem is a lot of fittings only use a 7 iron. I’d say realize that a slower swing speed needs more loft/thicker sole/tungsten to help get the ball in the air. I’d try to hit the 5 and 6 iron to see decent angle before buying if possible. in general, the thicker the sole with bounce is more forgiving.

  2. Parker

    Jun 19, 2020 at 12:34 pm

    Great article thank you.

    I’ve been on the search for the highest ball flight possible with all clubs except driver for years. Refer to it as a playable trajectory. Also been working swing mechanics too.

    One take away is “softer tips” do not always equate to better results which leads me to the question of during this head comparison, were the same shafts/flex used in the mb through the T200?

    Another question that I imagine that the answer is likely swing mechanics; I find it easier to get the club on the back of the ball for crisper contact than with a Mb instead of a head profile size of the t200. I would play a full set of hybrids but I don’t think my ball striking would improve at all.

  3. Imafitter

    Jun 17, 2020 at 8:23 pm

    LOL! Glenn fit me right there at TPI in Oceanside for a Titleist driver and fairway wood two years ago. Great guy and full of knowledge.

  4. David

    Jun 17, 2020 at 1:33 pm

    Just fitted for new mp20 hmb. As you stated the fitter asked about my normal misses… a bit of a heal strike, going weak to the right.

    Tried 6 different shafts. One clearly resulted in best smash factor, best ball speed, about avg spin to the others, about avg launch, greatest height, longest distance, smallest variation in distance, about average left/right dispersion but by far most centered to target.

    It was the second best descent of 45 degrees on a 7 iron. One other was 46 but was a very spinny, must shorter carry.

    The thing that really stood out on my fitting was i could center the strikes much better with that one shaft in particular. Noticeably better.

    So i guess i would agree descent angle is one important metric and probably indicates what you hit best. Likely being what you hit with the best strike, ball speed and spin to get the optimal height and carry. Which maybe not to surprisingly is the result of being able to hit the sweet spot.

    In my case I was fitted with the shaft that demonstrated my ability to consistently center the strike.

  5. Reid

    Jun 17, 2020 at 10:01 am

    I would argue it’s lie angle. If that is incorrect, nothing else matters.

    • J

      Jun 19, 2020 at 9:36 am

      Tons of players (including tour players) play “incorrect” lie angles. As long as you’re within about 2*, ball-flight trumps “proper” lie angle. If you have a player who’s miss is left, you wouldn’t bend him more upright as long as you’re relatively close, same goes for a player who misses right, but “should” have flatter irons.

      • gunmetal

        Jun 29, 2020 at 11:40 am

        This is true until the scoring irons/wedges come into play. The higher the loft the more impact a bad lie angle can have.

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This past week, I was out at our club doing some research on launch angles and spin rates. My “Iron Byron” was our first assistant golf professional Joe Mitchell, who is one of the most consistent ball strikers I’ve seen. Joe has a reputation for being laser straight with every club, from driver to wedges, and is one of the best putters I’ve watched. The only “flaw” in Joe’s game, which he admits, is that he is not nearly as long as the young guns.

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His spin number dropped from 35-3900 to 26-2800 rpms, launch angles did not change, ball speed off the clubhead did not change more than one mph or so, but distance improved by almost ten yards! So, the mere act of backing off a bit from “full power” actually improved his driving distance, and there’s no question that even Joe is going to hit the driver straighter if he’d not trying to “max out” on every swing.

We duplicated the test a number of times, Joe hitting drives at full power then backing off a bit. And the results were the same every time–the “controlled” swing produced about 1,000 RPMs less spin and greater distance than did the full out swings.

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