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Why you’re not good enough not to get fit



Since the beginning of custom golf club fitting, players have always wrestled with the question “should I get custom fit?” or “am I good enough to get custom fit?”

While these seem like valid questions, I tell golfers who play once a week that they are not good enough not to get custom fit! In fact, they are doing themselves a disservice, because professionals can adjust to poorly fit equipment while amateurs cannot!

One of the biggest issues with poorly fit clubs is the yardage gaps in relation to carry and roll. To prove this point, I took one of the scratch players at the course where I teach, Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif., and ran him through a simple test. He was told nothing other than to hit balls with every club in his bag, so he was blind as to what I was trying to accomplish.

Below you can see what yardages he had with his set make up of:

  • TaylorMade SLDR 5 Wood (set to 20.5 degrees)
  • TaylorMade SpeedBlade irons (3-PW) with True Temper Project X 6.0 shafts
  • TaylorMade ATV wedges (56 and 60 degrees)

Note: His irons and wedges have TaylorMade’s standard lofts that were verified on my loft/lie machine. 

Photo 01

As you look at the CARRY data above without reference to the actual numbers below, you will see that some of these yardages tend to blend together.

  • The 60-degree and 54-degree wedges, as well as his SpeedBlade PW and 9 iron have good spacing.
  • His 7 iron and 6 iron are a touch too close together.
  • His 5 iron, 4 iron, 3 iron have yardage gaps that are too close together.

One might think that his 7 iron loft might be strong or the 6 iron loft could be weak, but again both were tested and were spot on per the stock lofts set up by the factory. As with most golfers, once we get to the longer irons the flight became quite a bit flatter. That reduces the carry distance the player can obtain. Golfers want all clubs to peak out the same height so they can also have better control of their angles of descent so the ball won’t chase over the green every time. In fact, the goal is to keep all of our hybrids and irons above a 45-degree landing angle. With this being said, let’s dig a touch deeper into the data for a more precise fitting for this player.

Photo 02Photo 03

As stated earlier, there are really no issues with the 8 iron through 60-degreee wedge, as all the distance data seems to be spot on. But here are several things to note:

  • The 7 iron carry is 165.9 yards with a height of 84.6 feet and a landing angle of 43.5 degrees.
  • The 6 iron carry is 180.1 yards with a height of 80.4 feet and a landing angle of 41.4 degrees.

The yardage carry gap appears fine, but when you look closer, you will see that the height has dropped down and the ball is chasing forward a touch too much: around 13 yards. I would prefer to see the 6 iron to go a touch higher and would suggest adding 0.5 degrees of loft to reduce the gap, giving his shots more height so they land more like a short iron.

  • The 5 iron carry is 192.4 yards with a height of 74.8 feet and a landing angle of 38.0 degrees.
  • The 4 iron carry is 199.1 yards with a height of 77.9 feet and a landing angle of 39.1 degrees.
  • The 3 iron carry is 205.4 yards with a height of 66.3 feet and a landing angle of 34.0 degrees.

There was also a huge gap between his 3 iron carry and his 5 wood carry, with the 3 iron carrying 205.4 yards and the 5 wood carrying 233.6 yards.

So what does this tell me? The 5 iron is a borderline club in this player’s bag, as it is coming in way too low and flat. I would suggest changing shafts or adding a touch of loft to make the ball fly a touch higher with almost the same length.

The 3 and 4 irons should be instantly replaced with hybrids so that this player can have a chance to stay on the green from 200 yards. Currently, there is no chance for this player to access a front pin location with this set make up from 200 yards without his shots chasing to the back of the green. This is the precise reason why hybrids are in professionals’ golf bags; they are easier to hit, have a higher ball flight, carry farther and land softer. I believe that with the right hybrid and wood fitting, this player could gain yardage with his 3 and 4 irons. He would gain that distance by hitting those clubs higher with better yardage spacing, and that would unify the gaps between his 5 wood and 5 iron.

I would highly suggest that all players go through a yardage testing protocol and get fit. What you will gain will be the understanding of what you actually do versus what you think you do. From there you can make more educated decisions as to what clubs you need to investigate at the next demo day.

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico ( He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: [email protected]



  1. Daniel

    May 7, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Tom, Great article that reminded me of some of the info in Dave Pelz’s book “The Short Game Bible”, at least I think it was that book. He talked about how the lofts on current sets mean a player will have 20 yd gaps between the scoring clubs and less than 10 yds between long irons. Looking at the data you provided shows this exactly. Why doesn’t a manufacturer make a set with only 2-3 degree gaps from SW-8 iron and then 5-7 degree between long irons? Wouldn’t that mean less half shots from scoring range and thus better scores?

  2. Pingback: Should the average player get fit for clubs? | Geoff Dean, PGA

  3. Nagah

    Apr 16, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Get fitted. Whether you are a 36 cap or plus cap. Fitting can pay massive dividends with the right lie angle, correct shaft and measurements.
    My clubs were 4 degrees to upright, had them adjusted and now swing with confidence knowing that I can play shots that are draw or fade. Not a hook or slice.

  4. Larry Jonak

    Apr 16, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    I have been to six different club fitters. Some of them on the Golf Digest top 100. Only one of them did a yardage test on each club only to recommend an off the shelf set that I think he was trying to unload. The others had you hit a couple of 6 irons on trackman and then recommend the one that went the farthest. I traveled 180 miles for a driver fitting and after hitting 10 different clubs was told he couldn’t help me. I am a 9 hdcp so I can find my way around a course but as far as a fitting I go by trial and error.
    Instead of an article on the virtues of getting fit, I would like to see an article on how to get a good fit and find guys that can do it right.

    • Tom Stickney

      Apr 17, 2014 at 1:47 am

      Sad story that I’ve heard before; you must do your homework before committing to anyone. I always suggest an interview process first to see if this fitter or teacher has your best interests at heart. Then I’d check his credentials and noteworthy clients etc

    • Bert

      Apr 19, 2014 at 9:33 am

      Absolutely – I have found most fittings are scams. If you get fit at a retailer,they hand you clubs from stock to try then tell you this one works best; buy it! That’s not getting fit,it’s trying out clubs.

      I guess I just don’t understand – buy quality retail matched sets of irons and they go incorrect distances? An iron has degrees of loft, length and supposedly correctly installed shafts. So are you really saying one cannot buy a matched set of clubs that fit them,they must be individually set up? Something seems incorrect here – Buy a set of top line irons and then have each re-shafted, bent, or whatever to fit?

  5. leftright

    Apr 16, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    I recommend every golfer evaluate these 3 things before doing anything. I am writing a book on this and have a publisher currently.
    Timing, Tempo and Talent, The 3 T’s. Playing golf for 45 years and being from a starter to a +3 at my best I have met thousands of golfers, given hundreds of lessons and met unknown amounts of personalities, some good, some not so good. This is applicable to almost any sport and an individual can evaluate the 3 T’s from the first time he plays golf.
    Does he have the talent to play well?
    20 swings can tell a teacher if he can be single digit or not, even if he has never swung a golf club before.
    Timing (Time)Will he play, put forth effort or just become some mediocre person who does not love or desire the game. Just another guy/girl who wants to play golf.
    Does the person have Tempo? This is applicable not only to the golf swing but to life as well. Are they Type A’s or Type B’s, is their life balanced or plum out of whack. Is this person neurotic or does he have the social skills to advance.
    Golf is a game of life, not only a sport.
    To make a long book short, fitting is only a sentence in the book.

    • Tom Stickney

      Apr 17, 2014 at 1:53 am

      I try not to decide for the student what is best for them; I try and let their goals direct my actions from the start.

  6. JDF

    Apr 16, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    After reading this I scheduled a Trackman fitting to go through the clubs in my bag – didn’t even know there was one in my area. I’m sure it is going to be an eye-opening experience.

    • tom stickney

      Apr 16, 2014 at 3:26 pm

      It’s unreal…you’ll have a blast.

  7. Dim

    Apr 16, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Seems to me most of this players problems relate to the speedblade lofts. I wonder how his gapping would be with more traditional lofted irons you find in most CB irons these days.

    • tom stickney

      Apr 16, 2014 at 3:28 pm

      Even the speedblade lofts are spaced out between 3-5 degrees as are most sets on the market. It’s impossible to program lofts that work for everyone in a stock set, so manufacturers just set up what tends to work best for the masses…thus the need for clubfitting and gap testing with trackman

  8. Lefty89

    Apr 16, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    Might be a little long-winded but here goes:
    This is a great observation, the only thing I think is missing, and something most golfers fail to realize, is that club-fitting is a life-long process. You don’t get fit once and get set for life. When I was starting out 7 years ago, I was fit into Rifle 5.0s and carried hybrids. Today I am a scratch player who launches the ball high enough where a 2-iron makes sense for me and I can’t find a shaft that spins too low. One of my closest friends who I helped teach the game to, was fit after being in the game 1-2 years and his game (and enjoyment) have improved so much. Higher handicap players need the fitting way more than scratch players and this article hits it right on the head. Invest in your game and it will pay it back 10-fold, if you go to the right fitter.

    As far as ego and hybrids, I think it definitely depends on the player. I used a hybrid for a long time and loved it, however as of late I added a very-forgiving 2 iron to my bag and have found much more use for it than I ever did a hybrid in just 6 short months. In the right hands 2 and 3 irons are wonderful tools that I do not see hybrids ever replacing fully. If you can create the proper launch conditions on your own, why wouldn’t you?

    • tom stickney

      Apr 16, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      That’s the great thing about hybrids, higher lofted woods, and long irons is that it gives the PLAYER the option as to how he’d like to best handle the golf course and it’s conditions on a daily basis. You can always mix and match…most of us do from time to time.

  9. TERRY

    Apr 16, 2014 at 11:39 am

    what if face tape tells you are all over the face of the club…not consistent striking … will fitting help?

    • tom stickney

      Apr 16, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      You might be hitting it all over the face due to the wrong shaft flex or trying to make up for an improper lie of the club by manipulating the club during impact. I’d suggest a fitting and a few lessons as well…no fun to beat it all over the face. I know from experience! 🙂

  10. Neal G

    Apr 16, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Tom, eye-opening information (for me)! Could you take a few moments and research who I might look as a fitter in the D.C.-Baltimore metro area? I’ve discussed fittings with a PGA-authorized guy at a Dick’s Sporting Goods store in Columbia, MD, and they “seemed” knowledgeable; would that be a possible choice?

    • tom stickney

      Apr 16, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      Check out golf digest top 100 clubfitter’s listing…just looked and there are a few outlets around your area that are on the list

    • DAVE

      Apr 17, 2014 at 10:20 am


    • Wisconsin Terrapin

      Apr 18, 2014 at 11:04 am

      Tom is being nice, but you can’t really get full benefit of a fitting hitting into a net. Trackman can give out numbers, but the carry and roll are averages of atmospheric and ground conditions – not necessarily where you live. I’m not trying to impugn the integrity of the PGA you are seeing, but from time to time box store fitters get incentives to encourage certain brands through the year. Both Ping and Titleist list fitters on their websites, and most fit more than one brand, so as part of the research, include outdoor sites. I can vouch for the 1757 club in northern VA. He is a Titleist fitter and fitted my son into Mizuno J series irons as the best irons for him.

  11. Tyler

    Apr 15, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Hey Tom,

    Loved the article, but like a few others I am at a loss for who in my area could help me with this. I attempted to go for a fitting a few times, once at a nicer place in the area and left with what was basically a lesson and no suggestions in terms of a fitting. I play in the York area in PA. There are a lot of courses around and a few great teachers (at least one on the top 100 list). Any direction on places to try would be greatly appreciated! (the closer the better!)


    • tom stickney

      Apr 15, 2014 at 6:06 pm

      Check out golf digest top 100 clubfitter’s listing…golf magazine top 100 teacher listing… for user listing. One of these should list somebody that is close to where you live. Sadly, I’m not too familiar with the northeast. Sorry.

      • Tyler

        Apr 15, 2014 at 6:12 pm

        That is still helpful, thanks a lot for the quick response.

  12. nikkyd

    Apr 15, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Never forget, use the ball your going to game with. When you get fitted

    • tom stickney

      Apr 15, 2014 at 6:07 pm

      100% correct if you have the opportunity!

      • Bert

        Apr 19, 2014 at 9:37 am

        Range balls work best in this area for a proper fitting (LOL). Unfortunately that’s what you will see our area for club fittings.

  13. Ryan

    Apr 15, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Tom – Always enjoy your articles as they are very informative and “accessible” for any golfer.

    I purchased my current iron set about 4 years ago and was fit for them at the time. My swing has developed since then and I was never fitted for the other clubs so interested in getting it all evaluated. I’m sure every place differs a little, but what should I expect from a session like this? Is it an hour with the pro and a trackman? Are lie/loft adjustments generally included in the cost? I’m pretty sure my irons and wedges can be bent without an issue (Mizuno MX-300’s for 5-PW, Vokey SM4 52* & 58*). I’ve been carrying a 2, 3, and 4 hybrid (18, 21, 24) for almost 6 years now and love them but I’m wondering if they are the right shaft (only regular shafts in my bag) and if I can benefit from some newer hybrid tech too. Actually *knowing* the carry, decent angle, and roll out of each would be tremendously useful.

    That said I still only know of one (public) facility that allows you to rent trackman time. I constantly hear and read about “knowing your yardages” like the pros but its not that easy due to access to a facility (simulator at the PGA tour store doesn’t cut it) and range balls being what they are. There are a lot a private clubs in my area (north Atlanta) that may have this for all their members (I have no knowledge of it) but access to those clubs or equipment to do this properly at range is not something I’ve seen except at just the one place mentioned. Any suggestions on where to look/how to go about this? For my level of play and frequency (high 80’s shooter, two or three rounds a month) I’d love to be able to do a “yardage check” once or twice a season.

    • tom stickney

      Apr 15, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      Every place has a different fitting package…call Danny Elkins at Georgia Golf Center- tell him I sent you and ask him what his fitting packages consists of in general…he has a trackman and does fittings and gap testing. I know him personally and he is a very solid teacher/fitter in Atlanta.

      Georgia Golf Center
      345 Cox Rd., Roswell, Georgia
      (770) 992-4233

      • Ryan

        Apr 15, 2014 at 1:47 pm

        I’ve only been there once but that is where I intended to go because of the trackman availability. Glad to have the recommendation on Danny; I’ll give him a call. Thanks!

        • Dominate

          Apr 23, 2014 at 8:29 am

          You can also try Rob Stocke at The Golf Club of Georgia, he is the Director of Instruction and the Flightscope rep for GA. I believe they have Pro V1 range balls.

  14. Greg

    Apr 15, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Great article. I need to print this out to give to most my students. I end up giving most my lessons to college students who just want to buy a cheap set at Dick’s or some other box store, or buy used off ebay/craigslist. They don’t really listen when I tell them at least com back so I can adjust it to their needs. The common excuse I hear: “I’m gonna shoot 120 anyways, so why bother?”

    Any suggestions as to how to get those players to buy in?

    • Tom Stickney

      Apr 15, 2014 at 10:05 am

      Thx. Tell them to just buy a beat up 1970’s car…they are just going from point a to point b so why does it matter? Seriously, you can always modify their equipment to the best of your ability with what they bring you. Lead tape, shaft extensions, loft/lie adjustments etc

  15. Adam Beede

    Apr 15, 2014 at 6:56 am

    great post. My question- is a 45* descent angle a non-negotiable? I’ve been fitted for all my clubs, and I have carry distance clusters very similar to your test subject, but I play in N. Texas with a fairly consistent 10-20 mph wind. So, would a consistent descent angle slightly lower be optimal? Currently, I know all my carry distances, and have just come to terms with my 5,4,& 3 irons carry being within 16 yds of each other (189, 196, 205). I do play a 3 hybrid when the wind is down that carries 215.

    • Tom Stickney

      Apr 15, 2014 at 10:06 am

      All depends on conditions….correct.

  16. MHendon

    Apr 15, 2014 at 1:46 am

    This article through me for a loop. At first I thought you where advocating high handicap golfers get fit, then I went back and reread this part, “I tell golfers who play once a week that are not good enough (not) to get custom fit!” Then I realized that in fact you where suggesting they don’t. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve actually made this same point in other threads with golfers who are always looking for that magic in a bottle. If your swings not consistent you simply can’t be fit effectively. I’m not saying your swing has to be perfect like Adam Scott’s, just consistent. Also I couldn’t agree more about the hybrids. My 2 iron got replaced by a 20 degree hybrid years ago and my 3 iron got replaced by a 22 degree a year ago. Not only are they easier to hit from all kinds of lies but my distance gaping improved quite a bit. The ego thing is a problem for a lot of good golfers. They see hybrids as clubs meant for slow swingers but what many don’t realize is its not their club head speed that’s the problem, its these new low spinning balls. My club head speed is the same as it was 10 years ago but I noticed my 3 iron wasn’t flying as high and carrying as far and that’s because the strong loft of a 3 iron doesn’t start the ball high enough with out significant back spin to help the ball climb. So once they realize its not their swing that’s the problem but the modern ball instead, that should help them get past their ego.

    • MHendon

      Apr 15, 2014 at 2:01 am

      Ooops read it again and some of your responses to people questions and you are advocating high handicappers get custom fit. I’m afraid I don’t agree with that. Like I said before a golfer must have a consistent swing to effectively be fit. If your swing is constantly changing then you can’t really figure out whats right for someone.

      • Tom Stickney

        Apr 15, 2014 at 10:09 am

        Everyone has a “baseline” won’t change that much while you are learning…you need the right length, lie, lofts, set make up, and flex to have a chance to learn correctly.

    • Tom Stickney

      Apr 15, 2014 at 10:07 am

      Sorry but I am suggesting high handicap players get fit because they are unable to adjust to poorly fit equipment and need all the help they can get.

      • MHendon

        Apr 15, 2014 at 5:50 pm

        Well I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one. However I find it odd you used a scratch golfer instead of say a 15 to 25 handicapper to prove your point. I mean how can you fit someone who is very inconsistent from swing to swing. After all it’s the speed and tempo of your swing along with your swing path and impact position that determines most of the fitting criteria. If a player is so inconsistent that he/ she sets up with their hands a little higher or lower from swing to swing or they set up a few inches closer to or further from the ball, this could impact lie angle and face angle significantly. Not to mention a constantly changing swing path, poor balance, not maintaining their level or center. Plus as they improve assuming they improve all these fitting will certainly change. I would say about the only thing you can fit a high handicap golfer for is grip size.

        • Grog

          Apr 16, 2014 at 12:28 pm

          That was my total WTF? Issue with this article. Who makes a point about high handicappers at once a week players and then illustrates it with a scratch golfer using a brand new custom for set. Is this the high capper, weekend warrior you’re talking about?

          • MHendon

            Apr 16, 2014 at 5:39 pm

            It’s obvious why, if he had used a true high handicap golfer like I said say a 15 up then you would have seen from the flight scope numbers his distances, trajectories, and flight mostly slices and some pulls would be all over the place. Basically impossible to determine a proper set make up. But hey look at the source of the information, if you ask a car salesman should I get the extended warranty what do you think he’s going to say? Custom fitting is the new buzz in golf and just another way to try and sell NEW CLUBS plus the guys doing the fittings a lot of times charge for their services to. When I was new to the game I asked a club fitter about getting fit and his remarks where to me, until you develop a consistent swing it won’t do you any good. You always get the truth until someone figures out they can make money from it!

  17. Craig Peckham

    Apr 15, 2014 at 12:08 am

    I am a high handicapper who doesn’t even play once a week, but I am constantly thinking about and changing my swing the few times I play or hit the range. Each year there are improvements; I never slice the ball and have developed the ability to put a baby draw on most of my irons through developing a proper swing path. Yet, I know my weight transfer isn’t well developed yet, in fact, there are a lot of inconsistencies from week to week; including finding the best swing plane for me (more upright, or flatter). How can someone fit me for clubs if I haven’t developed or use a similar swing from week to week? My biggest weakness in my game is my chipping, add about 7 – 10 strokes a round because of chunks, etc.. I am likely a mid-handicapper with a terrible short game…lol.

    • Tom Stickney

      Apr 15, 2014 at 1:31 am

      The baseline moves are there within your swing currently that we can fit. It’s not going to change that much for a bit.

      • Craig Peckham

        Apr 15, 2014 at 11:39 pm

        Thank you…that’s good to know moving forward.

  18. Kelly

    Apr 14, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Very interesting and a good read. What do recommend as yardage gaps?

    I’m trying to find the right set make up right now. Previously I played a 5-pw, 52, 58, 21 & 24 degree hybrids and a 14 degree 3w. With that set up I didn’t have a 195 club. I now have a 4-pw(46), 52, 58. with the same hybrids and 3w. I think I need to look at a hybrid or FW in the 17-18 range and a hybrid in the 21-22 range.

    • Tom Stickney

      Apr 15, 2014 at 1:32 am

      Your set make up is totally dependent on the courses you play most and the strengths/weaknesses of your current game

  19. Ben

    Apr 14, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Is there somewhere to look up where some of these places might be? I’m in Kansas City, so I think I know of a couple places, but I’d want to make sure this happened with good equipment on the fitter side, and actually be outside to see the flight as well?

    • Tom Stickney

      Apr 15, 2014 at 1:32 am

      Find any fitter with a TrackMan or flightscope in your area.

  20. Bradley Lawrence

    Apr 14, 2014 at 8:26 pm


    What are you thoughts on “driving irons” I tend to have a number of players who want these but they still don’t hit them as high as a hybrid.

    • Tom Stickney

      Apr 15, 2014 at 1:33 am

      Good for low driving accurate shots off the tee…not much else.

  21. Ponjo

    Apr 14, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Ego’s are very annoying. Kucher and Sneds use graphite in their irons and hybrids. Those guys who feel it is wimpish to go from extra stiff irons and rely on 2 and 3 irons need to wake up.

    • Tom Stickney

      Apr 14, 2014 at 8:20 pm

      Couldn’t agree more. Including myself in that as I just ditched my 3 iron for a 5 wood

    • Grog

      Apr 16, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      Ridiculous comparisson. They don’t use graphite, they use Aerotech steelfiber shafts. The reason you don’t see more amateurs playing aerotechs is we actually have to pay for our equipment. Enjoy your $100/shaft aerotechs… I’m fine with the steels I’ve used for years.

  22. Chris

    Apr 14, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    Always learn something new with your columns. Thanks

  23. Nathan H.

    Apr 14, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Should someone who is a high handicapper get fitted for clubs? Or lessons first? I’ve been playing my entire life but have not really gotten a consistent game. Should I work on my game first with standard clubs first?

    • Tom Stickney

      Apr 14, 2014 at 8:22 pm

      No. Get fit quickly. Be like learning to run a mile for time with shoes that don’t fit. Would screw up your gait and overall time. Only pros can adjust to poorly fit clubs but only to a point.

    • Jim

      Apr 14, 2014 at 8:43 pm

      I would say get fit for your clubs and take lessons . Then as you get better and need clubs for different shots upgrade but get fit again . Its amazing the difference it can make

    • cole

      Apr 14, 2014 at 9:24 pm

      Can usually find lessons where you get fitted.. Two birds with one stone.

  24. Dan K

    Apr 14, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    I don’t understand… wouldn’t a good fitting that also analysed yardage gaps solve the above problem? It appears this player has bought his clubs “off the rack” given his set make up, where as he needs a mix of hybrids or long irons with different shafts and/or loft adjustments to make the set suit his game. Isn’t that the whole premise behind custom fitting?

    • tom stickney

      Apr 14, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      Without a doubt…the problem is that most players do just what this guy did…buy clubs off the rack. Or if they also buy hybrids they are not sure what lofts best fit their gaps hence the reason why a fitting is suggested

  25. luke keefner

    Apr 14, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    the gap problem seems to me to be between the 7 and 8. did this guy never here about hybrids?

    • tom stickney

      Apr 14, 2014 at 4:51 pm

      the eight could be weakened a touch if this player would like as well

    • tom stickney

      Apr 14, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      Also he was a 0 handicap…a lot of these players do not carry hybrids due to “ego” and this is another trend I see with good club players

      • Marty Neighbour

        Apr 16, 2014 at 12:15 pm

        It’s not always “ego” that is the reason. I play a 2-3-4 iron. Single digit handicap. My last set of irons I got in 5 iron down, and bought a 3/4 hybrid. I couldn’t hit them. Terrible ball flight. Went back to my 3/4 iron and everything was right again. I don’t know if it’s my swing, or just a mental block. But either way, I could not hit them with any level of comfort in comparison to my irons.

        • MHendon

          Apr 16, 2014 at 5:50 pm

          Marty what type of hybrids did you try. If your a hard swinger like me you’ll find player or tour type models best. I personally use a 20 degree adams A12 tour and 22 degree adams pro black. They give me long iron type flight with a h*** of a lot more forgiveness and much easier from difficult lies.

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Short Game University: How to hit wedges 301



In golf, there is nothing harder than judging a flop shot over a bunker to a tight pin out of long grass. Why? Because there are so many variables to account for — in addition to what you can and cannot do with a wedge. In fact, up until very recently in the world of wedge design, we were limited to only increasing the landing angle to stop the ball, because relying on spin from this lie and this close to the green was next to impossible.

Now with the advent of things like raw faces, different CG locations, new groove design, and micro-ribs between the grooves, we can now spin the ball out of lies that we never could have done so before. This is not to say that you can now zip the ball back from these types of lies, but we are seeing spin rates that have skyrocketed, and this allows us to not open the face as much as we needed to do before in order to stop the ball.

Before we get into the shot around the green itself, let’s talk a bit about wedge design. For that, I called a great friend of mine, Greg Cesario, TaylorMade’s Staff Manager to help us understand a bit more about wedges. Greg was a former PGA Tour Player and had a big hand in designing the new Milled Grind 3 Wedges.

Cesario said: “Wedge technology centers on two key areas- the first is optimizing its overall launch/spin (just like drivers) on all shots and the second is optimum ground interaction through the geometry of the sole (bounce, sole width, and sole shape).”

“Two key things impact spin: Groove design and face texture. Spin is the secondary effect of friction. This friction essentially helps the ball stick to the face a little longer and reduces slippage. We define slippage as how much the ball slides up the face at impact. That happens more when it’s wet outside during those early morning tee times, out of thicker lies, or after a bit of weather hits. Our Raised Micro-Ribs increase friction and reduce slippage on short partial shots around the round – that’s particularly true in wet conditions.”

“We’ve been experimenting with ways to find optimal CG (center of gravity) placement and how new geometries can influence that. We know that CG locations can influence launch, trajectory and spin. Everyone is chasing the ability to produce lower launching and higher spinning wedge shots to help players increase precision distance control. In that space, moving CG just a few millimeters can have big results. Beyond that, we’re continuing to advance our spin and friction capabilities – aiming to reduce the decay of spin from dry to fluffy, or wet conditions.”

Basically, what Greg is saying is that without improvements in design, we would never be able to spin the ball like we would normally when it’s dry and the lie is perfect. So, with this new design in a wedge like the Milled Grind 3 (and others!), how can we make sure we have the optimal opportunity to hit these faster-stopping pitch shots?

  1. Make sure the face is clean and dry
  2. Open the blade slightly, but not too much
  3. Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the AoA
  4. Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

Make sure the face is clean and dry

If your thought is to use spin to stop the ball quicker under any situation, then you must give the club a chance to do its job. When the grooves are full of dirt and grass and the remaining exposed face is wet, then you are basically eliminating any opportunity to create spin. In fact, if you decide to hit the shot under these conditions, you might as well hit a flop shot as this would be the only opportunity to create a successful outcome. Don’t put yourself behind the eight-ball automatically, keep your club in a clean and dry condition so you have the best chance to do what you are capable of doing.

Open the blade slightly, but not too much

Without going into too much extra detail, spinloft is the difference between your angle of attack and your dynamic loft. And this difference is one of the main areas where you can maximize your spin output.

Too little or too much spinloft and you will not be able to get the maximum spin out of the shot at hand. With wedges, people equate an open clubface to spinning the ball, and this can be a problem due to excessive spinloft. Whenever you have too much dynamic loft, the ball will slide up the face (reduced friction equals reduced spin) and the ball will float out higher than expected and roll out upon landing.

My thought around the green is to open the face slightly, but not all the way, in efforts to reduce the probability of having too much spinloft during impact. Don’t forget under this scenario we are relying on additional spin to stop the ball. If you are using increased landing angle to stop the ball, then you would obviously not worry about increasing spinloft! Make sure you have these clear in your mind before you decide how much to open the blade.

Opened slightly

Opened too much

One final note: Please make sure you understand what bounce option you need for the type of conditions you normally play. Your professional can help you but I would say that more bounce is better than less bounce for the average player. You can find the bounce listed on the wedge itself. It will range between 4-14, with the mid-range bounce being around 10 degrees.

Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the angle of attack

As we know, when debris gets in between the clubface and the ball (such as dirt/grass), you will have two problems. One, you will not be able to control the ball as much. Secondly, you will not be able to spin the ball as much due to the loss of friction.

So, what is the key to counteract this problem? Increasing the angle of attack by setting the wrists quicker on the backswing. Making your downswing look more like a V rather than a U allows less junk to get between the club and the ball. We are not using the bounce on this type of shot, we are using the leading edge to slice through the rough en route to the ball. Coming in too shallow is a huge problem with this shot, because you will tend to hit it high on the face reducing control.

Use your increased AoA on all of your crappy lies, and you will have a much better chance to get up and down more often!

Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

The final piece of the puzzle through the ball is speed through the pivot. You cannot hit shots around the green out of tall grass without keeping the club moving and having speed. A reduction of speed is obvious as the club enters into the tall grass, but you don’t want to exacerbate this problem by cutting off your pivot and letting the arms do all the work.

Sure, there are times when you want to cut off the body rotation through the ball, but not on the shot I am discussing here. When we are using spin, you must have speed to generate the spin itself. So, what is the key to maintaining your speed? Keeping the rear shoulder rotating long into the forward swing. If you do this, you will find that your arms, hands, and club will be pulled through the impact zone. If your pivot stalls, then your speed will decrease and your shots will suffer.

Hopefully, by now you understand how to create better shots around the green using the new wedge technology to create more spin with lies that we had no chance to do so before. Remembering these simple tips — coupled with your clean and dry wedge — will give you the best opportunity to be Tiger-like around the greens!

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