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Wishon: Getting the right grip size, time after time

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This part of the series is about how we teach club fitters to fit golfers for the proper grip size and style.

Many of you might be saying “OMG really? This will be a yawner.”

Wishon

I’ll ask that you to hang on through the first part of this story, because we’ll get to some other information about grip fitting that many of you may not know.

OK, sure, there isn’t any rocket science associated with fitting golfers for the right grip size and style. Grip size/style fitting is chiefly a matter of golfer preference for what FEELS the best.

“WHAT STYLE AND SIZE ALLOWS THE GOLFER TO MAINTAIN A SECURE HOLD ON THE CLUB WITH THE LEAST AMOUNT OF GRIP PRESSURE?”

The more grip pressure golfers have to use to keep their hands securely on the grip throughout their swing, the more their forearm muscles will contract. And the tighter their forearm muscles, the less consistent golfers will find their swing tempo, timing, rhythm and shot consistency.

The result? More bad shots, which no one wants. 

Grip size fitting charts, which offer a size based on a measurement of the hand and middle finger length, stand ONLY as a starting point. Just like a wrist-to-floor measurement acts only as a starting point for length determination, hand/finger measurements are done simply to give the club maker a starting point for coming up with the best grip size for each golfer.

Plain and simple, the golfer has to try different grip sizes to choose the one that is most comfortable and allows him to maintain a secure hold on the club with the least amount of grip pressure. That means trial and experimentation. While many club fitters do this with cut-off shafts and grips installed to different specific sizes, it is better for the golfer to try grip sizes on a fully assembled club. Holding a grip mounted on a cut-off shaft just doesn’t FEEL like a real club and has been known to adversely affect a golfer’s size decision.

Following this guideline, there has been a recent increase in golfer preference for building up the diameter of the lower-hand part of the grip. For example, a right-handed golfer might prefer two wraps of grip tape under his left hand and three wraps under his right hand. That’s great if that’s what’s comfortable for him or her. Remember, getting the right grip size is chiefly a trial-and-experimentation process, but building up the lower hand can be done to help a golfer who indicates that he is turning the ball over a little more than he or she would like.

So comfort and a golfer’s own preferred feel rule all in grip size/style fitting. That’s no news to most of you. What is worth your attention is whether you really do know exactly what grip size you prefer. If you do, you’re assured that you are getting the same size grips when you switch to a different shaft or club.

Because of the VAST amount of variation in shaft butt diameters today, the old tried-and-true procedures for calculating known grip sizes in club making are totally disorganized and confusing. It’s an area in club making that used to be very comfortably protected by standards upon which every company agreed, but it is yet another example of equipment specifications that are out the window these days.

For a very long time in this industry, a men’s standard grip was defined by a diameter of 0.900 inches at a point 2 inches down from the edge of the grip cap, coupled with a diameter of 0.780 inches at the 6-inch point down from the end of the grip. It was from this that the industry designations for under or oversize grip diameters were based. Thus a +1/32-inch (0.031 inches) oversize grip was 0.930 inches/0.810 inches at the 2-inch/6-inch positions respectively, and so on for each of the other common grip sizes.

Ensuring the accurate size was easy. Pretty much all X-flex shafts were made with a 0.620-inch butt, S-flexes were 0.600 inches, R’s and A’s were 0.580 inches and L-flexes were 0.560 inches. To match to this, grip companies made their men’s grips with core sizes to match. Men’s grips were available with 62, 60 and 58 core sizes, and women’s grips had a 56 core size. Match the core size to the butt diameter, use one wrap of 2-way grip tape and you ended up with the standard men’s or women’s size every time.

Oversize grips were created by applying layers of masking tape to achieve the desired increase in the butt diameter to stretch the grip larger in diameter. This, too, was pretty much a standard since virtually every roll of paper masking tape was made with a thickness of 0.005 inches. Hence, for each layer of masking tape wrapped around the butt, the shaft diameter increased by 0.010 inches. And from this came the vernacular of 3 wraps makes a +1/32 inches oversize, 6 wraps makes a +1/16 inches oversize, and so on.

Not today.

Shaft butt diameters are all over the place now. Different model shafts of the same flex can now range in butt diameter from 0.580 inches to 0.640 inches. Not only that, but masking tape has been cheapened so much over the years that it’s tough to find a roll with the same 0.005-inch thickness as was so common before.

Most masking tape is 0.003 inches thick. Then you have the trend of the grip companies to mold separate grips to “midsize” or “oversize” diameters. Just how large IS this or that grip company’s mid or oversize molded grip?

Here we have one more club spec that used to have standards agreed upon by all that no longer exists. No more is “3 wraps a +1/32” or any other wraps versus size designation. To be sure you get the same exact grip size on all clubs/shafts you play, the only solution is to:

Make note of the butt diameter on the shafts you play.

  1. Note the core size of the grip you use. Typically, this will be seen as a 2-digit number on the underside of the mouth of the grip: 58, 60, 62. 
  2. Make note of the thickness and number of wraps of tape used.
  3. Take a final micrometer or calipers measurement of the outside diameter of the installed grips done at different points along the length of the grip.

When you change clubs or shafts and find the butt diameters are different, ensure you get the same final grip size by calculating the combination of butt diameter, tape thickness and final calipers measurement. More work, in other words, but it’s now what’s necessary. 

So the next time you tell your club maker your preferred grip size is an XYZ grip with X number of wraps and the grips turns out not quite right, you know why.

Related

Tom Wishon

  1. What length should your clubs be?
  2. What lofts should your clubs be?
  3. Face angle is crucial for a proper fitting
  4. The best way to fit lie angle
  5. How to choose the right club head design
  6. Tom Wishon’s keys to set makeup
  7. Getting the right size grip, time after time
  8. What shaft weight should you play?
  9. What swing weight should your clubs be?
  10. What shaft flex should I use?

This story is part of a 10-part series from Tom Wishon on professional club fitting.

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Tom Wishon is a 40-year veteran of the golf equipment industry specializing in club head design, shaft performance analysis and club fitting research and development. He has been responsible for more than 50 different club head design firsts in his design career, including the first adjustable hosel device, as well as the first 0.830 COR fairway woods, hybrids and irons. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: February 2014 Tom served as a member of the Golf Digest Technical Advisory Panel, and has written several books on golf equipment including "The Search for the Perfect Golf Club" and "The Search for the Perfect Driver," which were selected as back-to-back winners of the 2006 and 2007 Golf Book of the Year by the International Network of Golf (ING), the largest organization of golf industry media professionals in the USA. He continues to teach and share his wealth of knowledge in custom club fitting through his latest book, "Common Sense Clubfitting: The Wishon Method," written for golf professionals and club makers to learn the latest techniques in accurate custom club fitting. Tom currently heads his own company, Tom Wishon Golf Technology, which specializes in the design of original, high-end custom golf equipment designs and club fitting research for independent custom club makers worldwide Click here to visit his site, wishongolf.com

31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. M

    Mar 1, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    Tom – I have trouble with my right hand (RH golfer) coming off the grip at the top. I currently play an oversize grip (+1/32) plus an extra wrap of tape under my bottom hand.

    Would it be helpful to go smaller?

    • Tom Wishon

      Mar 2, 2015 at 10:35 am

      M
      As much as there are definite “cause and effect” elements in other areas of clubfitting, this matter of grip size vs a golfer’s ability to maintain a secure hold on the club during the whole swing still very much is an area of trial and experimentation. Sometimes a significant grip size change can help in this area, many times not. So I wish I could tell you a for sure remedy, but I can’t. You would have to take one club and go through a series of trial grip size changes and then hit balls for a few weeks to see what works, what doesn’t.

      Gut feel says that you should try a LOT bigger lower hand grip – like install a grip with the left hand size as it is now, but then put 6 to 8 wraps under the lower hand to try that first. In the end, whenever I have seen a golfer who loses the lower hand during the swing, the golfer has to train himself to change the way he applies his grip pressure with the lower hand – more often to feel like he is squeezing the left thumb firmly on the grip with the thicker muscular area at the base of his lower hand thumb and to consciously hit several shots while thinking of always maintaining that squeezing feel during the whole swing. Not to hold with more finger pressure.

  2. KK

    Feb 24, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    It would seem to me that larger grips will have a larger surface area and thus require less pressure to maintain adequate hold. They’re also smoother in feel. So I would say, play the largest grip that is comfortable. As far as uniform grip size throughout the set, that’s a tough one with so many different shafts from driver to fw to hy, iron and wedges. And even then, easy club is swung in a slightly different way. But thanks for the article. Great history lesson.

  3. tlmck

    Feb 24, 2015 at 10:06 am

    I do not know the finished size, I just know I use a .580 grip on a .600 shaft, or a .600 grip on a .620 shaft with no extra tape. I buy the same tape from Golfworks everytime, so I know it will be consistent. Never failed me so far.

  4. theo

    Feb 20, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    Golfer personal preference. End of story.

  5. FTWPhil

    Feb 20, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    Once you find your preferred grip size there is a simple shortcut to conformity. Use 2″ grip tape and note the gap, our overlap on the final wrap used. Now regrip the rest of your set to that gap size.

  6. james

    Feb 19, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    Tom, thank you for this series of articles! Great reads.

    I have a question, and it may be a stupid one, but should grip size be the same through the whole bag or does some clubs call for different sizes (e.g. thicker grip on driver vs. Smaller grip on irons)?

    • Tom Wishon

      Feb 20, 2015 at 10:25 am

      James:
      The tradition for using the same style and size of grip for all clubs is sound because that is the most sure way to achieve the same grip pressure with all clubs and from it, the same level of forearm/hand muscle contraction so the takeaway and tempo has more of a chance to be consistent with all clubs.

      That being said, there could be a reason/justification to invent a totally new type of grip for wedges that would be longer in length and with a different diameter tapering design so that when the golfer grips down on the wedges, which is done so often in the game, he would then not have to deal with the grip being too small. Right now whenever anyone grips down on a club, he has to accept the fact that he now is playing a grip which in essence is a good bit smaller for both hands. Challenge in this would be to determine how you would create the tapering rate of the grip diameter so that when he doesn’t grip down, the grip is not too large in some manner.

  7. Eric h

    Feb 19, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Tom
    Thanks for the comments. I am a smaller male (5’4″) with a small hand (6.5″ with my longest finger at 2.75″. Normally use undersized grips on all my clubs.

    I started to think back and my two best drivers in the past 5 years have had standard and midsized grips on them. Never gave it much thought until this week. I bought some new irons and immediately put my normal undersized grip on it. Put it on a monitor and most every shot was a hard draw. I have a neutral to strong grip and my iron miss is usually an overlooked draw.
    I hit a test Demo iron and it was much straighter. So I put on an oversized grip on my new 7i and hit it on the monitor again. Much different results. Club head speed was up almost 2mph, Gained 6 yds of carry which is a lot for me as I am a short hitter and dispersion was 4 yds tighter.

    I also hit the same test demo iron to ensure the monitor was reading consistently and it was spot on my results the week before.

    Oh and forgot to mention, I play a 10 finger grip and the larger grip just “feels” better and I bet my grip pressure is down a good 50% than what it was before with the undersized grips.

  8. Felipe Aspillaga

    Feb 19, 2015 at 10:00 am

    Tom,
    Always enjoy reading your in depth articles here on WRX.
    Also happened to find your book in some random used bookstore bin 😀

    When it comes to dialing in the correct grip size, especially for the garage builder/tinkerer, I would have mentioned installing grips using masking tape and air compression.
    This would allow the builder to easily switch out grips and add/subtract layers of tape with zero wait/drying time and without the need to destroy the grip to try the next setup.

    What do you think about grip installation via air compression, particularly as a “permanent” installation method?

    Cheers,
    Felipe

    • Don Greenwood

      Feb 19, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      I have used an air compressor for years to install & remove grips. A pancake compressor from Lowe’s or Depot works good. The only other things to get are the air nozzle for grips and a sleeve to put over old grips (nylon or PVC pipe) when using air to remove them. This helps contain the grip from blowing up like a balloon. Makes a really loud bang. What is nice is that you can install a new grip, remove and add tape if needed, reinstall grip and test to see if the customer likes. Remember the 2″ & 6″ measurements. Keep a record of the grip type and layers of tape. When your customer come back for new grips later, you can just blow those off and install new grip fast and easy. Always check that under the top 1″ or so does not turn in the hand. I have had some grips that needed additional masking tape there. Use a rough service masking tape. I get mine from Ace Hardware. Just start the grip on the shaft like normal, put one hand by the shaft end to push the grip down and add air to the butt end of the grip. Practice a couple times and you be fine. Hope this helps.

      • J.R.

        Feb 20, 2015 at 1:56 am

        I’ve seen that air compressor method demonstrated on YouTube, but I’m not sure it would work for everybody.
        As you mentioned, there’s the possibility of blowing up the grip (exploding it), especially if it isn’t a very high quality grip, even if you use a sleeve to prevent it from happening.
        Also, I’ve heard that this method works poorly if one is using double-sided golf grip tape as opposed to just standard run of the mill masking tape. You mentioned that you bought Ace Hardware masking tape, which is only sticky on one side, then slick on the other. Using double-sided grip tape made specifically for golf gripping purposes may preclude the air compressor method. If your customer comes in with grips that are not worn but simply wants to try a diameter change, his existing grips may have double-sided grip tape already on them.

        • Felipe Aspillaga

          Feb 20, 2015 at 10:09 am

          Yeah, double-sided tape + air compression isn’t really a compatible combination.

        • Tom Wishon

          Feb 20, 2015 at 10:32 am

          JR:
          It’s highly unlikely that a grip will explode in an air removal if there is a tube over the grip, even a cardboard tube from the inside of a roll of paper towels. While the tube certainly is there for safety reasons, it also prevents the grip from bubbling up so much that it becomes ruined should you be wishing to re use the grips being removed. Plus the alternative for an intact grip removal is a hypo needle and solvent, and THAT can be a very dangerous thing to do. Years ago I saw a clubmaker who slipped and accidentally injected some solvent into his hand doing this and he just happened to have a HORRIBLE tissue reaction that almost caused him to lose the hand.

          Also, as long as the grip core is not larger than any area of the diameter of the shaft, air installation over plain masking tape is just fine for keeping the grip secure to not slip. So if a golfer needs an oversize grip to be achieved by multiple wraps of build up tape, that can be done with masking tape with the grip installed over the wraps by air, and the grip will stay put.

  9. Dave S

    Feb 19, 2015 at 9:31 am

    Wow, that was a lot more complicated that I thought. My biggest issue is having a place to actually try different grip sizes on full clubs (I imagine this is an issue for a lot of people). I can’t just try a bunch of grips and various wraps and then pick the one I want put on all my clubs. Instead, it’s more trial-and-error… I get a grip i think feels good then put it on all my clubs. Regripping all clubs gets pretty expensive so I really just play with what I have (which I’m sure is not an optimal scenario). I have no way of knowing if there’s a better grip/wrap combo out there that I just haven’t tried yet… suggestions???

    • Tom Wishon

      Feb 19, 2015 at 11:35 am

      DAVE:
      There are two ways to go about this. One, you work with an experienced clubmaker who can do these calipers measurements for diameter to start with your current grips as a baseline, and then have him install different size grips on clubs from perhaps previous sets you may still have around that you can hit over time to get a sense for whether something different is more comfortable or not. Or two, you learn how to do grip sizing and installation yourself so you can do your own experimentation. Bottom line is really to not over think it – if you feel that you are able to maintain a secure hold on the club with a minimum amount of grip pressure with your current grip size, then leave it at that. But if curiosity is strong, then you have to look at either option one or two I explained above and tinker around with it over time.

      • Justin

        Jun 27, 2016 at 2:32 pm

        I realize I’m late to this party (as always lol), but there’s another option. Gauze, the kind trainers use to wrap ankles and wrists, can be used.

        Take a 6 or 7 iron to the range, hit shots as a baseline, then add a layer of gauze and hit some more. Keep adding a wrap until you get your best result.

        Take that info to a local clubfitter, so s/he can duplicate the test and measure the new diameter with calipers and install grips at the new size.

  10. Kevin

    Feb 19, 2015 at 9:27 am

    Tom,

    You mention measuring at various points along the grip. Where do you measure in addition to 2″ down from the but cap?

    • Tom Wishon

      Feb 19, 2015 at 11:44 am

      Kevin
      The customary points of grip diameter measurement are at 2″ and 6″ down from the edge of the grip cap – 2″ covers the upper hand, 6″ the lower hand in the grip. One commenter made a valid point here when he observed that in addition to shaft butt diams being all over the place these days, so too is the tapering of the butt section of the shaft which then controls the lower hand grip size. Hence the need to also have a lower hand diameter measurement for serious golfers who are very picky about the whole size of the grip.

  11. 8thehardway

    Feb 19, 2015 at 12:15 am

    The top photo shows a striking resemblance to William H. Macy in Showtime’s series Shameless.

    More to the point, your breath and depth of knowledge is staggering – beginning with Search for the Perfect Golf Club (read it around 2006) I’ve never come across anyone who packs so much detail, experience and help into their communications; at the very least you deserve a Lifetime Achievement awards for common sense in golf equipment. Thanks for being so involved and for the continuing education.

    • Tom Wishon

      Feb 19, 2015 at 11:52 am

      Thanks very much but it all goes back to very long ago when I was just starting to get consumed with learning everything possible about golf clubs and continually got put off, rebuffed or BS’d when I would call club and shaft companies asking questions. After about the 12th time of this, I really got pissed and told myself that I was going to have to do this on my own and if I did ever get to a point where I knew this stuff, I was going to be sure to share anything I learned with whoever was interested.

      Some here on WRX have formed the opinion that the only reason I do this is to further the business of my company. But I have been continually writing books/articles and sharing what I learn ever since the late 80s and will continue to do so as long as I can because I just feel there is a real need for the facts in the face of all the misinformation that has been a part of this industry for so long. Thanks again.

      • Cyd

        Feb 19, 2015 at 4:34 pm

        All I can add is:

        Thank you!

      • J.R.

        Feb 20, 2015 at 2:08 am

        @Tom Wishon. When I see a Wishon article on GolfWRX, I always read it, and I always appreciate the info.
        You’ve also helped to clarify and often de-bunk a lot of the info put out my major OEM’s about such things as moveable weights (how much weight will actually affect ball flight), and such things as the adjustable hosels.
        I recall reading an article somewhere about how often major OEM’s mis-lable the lofts on their drivers. I wish I could find that one on GolfWRX. It listed several big companies and the actual lofts versus the stated lofts of their drivers.
        As for criticism that you are writing articles to promote your personal business, please ignore those baseless claims. I’ve never seen you promote or even mention any of your specific models, and your bio at the end of the article simply serves to explain your expertise in the area of golf technology.
        Keep up the good work 🙂

  12. Shallowface

    Feb 18, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    The biggest problem I have is with shafts like the Aldila NV that have a butt diameter listed as .620 or .625, but taper so rapidly that one can end up with a grip that is significantly undersized under the trail hand. Other than trial and error, it’s difficult to know just how much to build up and where to start it. I remember having the same problem with an HM-40 20 plus years ago.

    I don’t think very many realize what havoc even slightly different grip sizes plays with one’s consistency. With it being so common today for one to have a number of different shafts in one’s set, it’s very difficult to get all of those grips exactly the same. But it is worth the effort.

  13. Chuck

    Feb 18, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    Another great no-nonsense Tom Wishon article. Because I am someone who does my own grips, and who fastidiously uses the same grip model (Lamkin Crossline .58 Rib) and even the same rolls of tape (one layer of blue painters tape, then one layer of Golfsmith two-sided masking tape), and the same regripping technique every time, I get exactly what I like.

    It is remarkable to me, how often somebody casually picks up one of my clubs, does a double-take, and says something like, “Hey, that’s really nice; what a good feel that is.” I used to think that it was because I almost always have fresh grips on my clubs. Then I began to think that it is the Rib grips. So few people re-grip with Ribs, because they are so hard to come by. I think a lot of people nowadays — younger players in particular — are more concerned about grip color than grip feel.

  14. Barry S.

    Feb 18, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    Another great article by Mr. Wishon. Something to possibly factor in would be the type of release. I like to add 4 or 5 one inch wraps of masking tape when I regrip to the butt of the shaft to create a wedge.

    I have super lite grip pressure and I sling the club out and away from my left side. The wedge keeps the club from flying out of my hands.

  15. Ian

    Feb 18, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    I’ve started measuring the buildup tape first, since measuring the grips can be way tougher. Plus, it saves time from putting on grips, realizing they’re too small, then cutting off grips and redoing the tape.

  16. Donnie

    Feb 18, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    Tom, I remember reading a while ago in GD about the effect of an oversize/undersize grip on shot shape tendencies, and how most people aren’t using a properly sized grip. Do you have data or feedback on that?

    • Tom Wishon

      Feb 19, 2015 at 3:45 pm

      If you are referring to the statement that too big of a grip will cause a slice or push and too small of a grip will cause a hook or a pull, this is something that can happen to some golfers but by no means even close to all. This depends on different variables in the manner the golfer releases the club, the aggressiveness with which they release the club, not to mention how much larger the grip would have to be before it even can have an effect on the release. At the best for those golfers who do experience this change in delivery of the face angle from a different grip size, it is more slight than big time pronounced. In other words if the golfer hooks or slices the ball more than 10-15 yds, a grip size change does not get rid of the hook or slice.

      At the end of the day, it is FAR better to simply find the MOST COMFORTABLE GRIP SIZE that allows the least amount of grip pressure to maintain a secure, non moving hold on the grip during the whole swing. And then if the golfer has a hook/pull or slice/push problem, address that with a proper fitting change in the face angle or the shaft weight or the swingweight or lengths, and make sure the lie angles are all correctly fit in a dynamic lie fitting procedure.

  17. Pingpro1959

    Feb 18, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Tom-Brilliant as usual, a couple of questions…
    1. Most golfers don’t grip the club properly in the left hand, with the club in their fingers. While comfort is a priority do you think that a proper grip trumps feel?

    2. What effect from a scientific basis does grip size affect wrist cock and ability to square the club? Does this change for lower handicap/pro players?

    Keep up the good work!

    • Tom Wishon

      Feb 18, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      Pingpro:
      Among the many things the clubfitter needs to do in the “player interview” as part of the pre fitting analysis, we advise that they need to ask the golfer, “Are you presently taking lessons and if so, what are you working on, and are you seeing changes from the lessons that indicate you will make the swing/grip change that your teacher is working on with you?” The question has to be asked so the clubfitter can know whether he fits the golfer for how he IS or whether he addresses the fitting to focus on how the golfer WILL BE with the swing/grip changes. So for your #1 question, if the golfer is not taking lessons or has no plans to take lessons to make any swing or grip changes, you fit him for grip comfort on the basis of how he grips the club when he comes to you. At the same time, if you notice his grip is less than stellar, this gets into that area that each fitter has to decide for himself as to whether he combines a little teaching with the fitting or not. Some clubfitters who may have decent teaching knowledge may do this. Those clubfitters who do not have any experience or background in teaching should leave that to the teaching pro.

      For #2, this one is all over the map in terms of whether golfers find that grip size changes have an effect on the release. Some do, many to most do not, at least from what I have seen in our work and what I hear from the many clubfitters I correspond with over the years. Typically though, if a golfer finds a new grip size that is much more comfortable than before, the decrease in grip pressure from finding the more comfortable grip does tend to allow them to release the club more freely, with less manipulation and in many cases with more speed too since the arm muscles are less contracted from the excess grip pressure.

      But no, one cannot say that for all or most golfers that they would leave the face open with a larger grip or close it more with a smaller grip. For a few, yes this can happen. For most it doesn’t.

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Opinion & Analysis

Ways to Win: Headstrong – Bryson DeChambeau flexes his mental muscle

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In “Ways to Win,” we track the PGA Tour winner’s rounds using the V1 Game mobile app and then analyze how they got the job done using the same tools available to V1 Game users.

Much was made as to whether Bryson DeChambeau would be able drive the green of the par-5 sixth hole at Bay Hill Club & Lodge at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. The 565-yard sixth horseshoes around a large lake, presenting a daunting challenge for mere mortals. As the crow flies, the green is just a mere 344 yards away, according to the Course Explorer in V1 Game. This gives new meaning to the term ‘reachable par 5’ as under the right conditions, DeChambeau is able reach the par 5 with a single shot. Those conditions did not present themselves until Saturday afternoon when DeChambeau unleashed a beastly drive that easily carried the water and ended up almost 380 yards just to the right of the bunker short of the green.

DeChambeau threw both arms up in celebration knowing full well that he is changing the way the game is played. However, it was not his physical strength that won the tournament this week, but his mental strength.

Bay Hill proved to be its own beast on Sunday with the scoring average at almost 75.5 and not a single player breaking 70. On a day more suited to patience and plodding, DeChambeau proved his mind to be just as strong as his body against an unlikely opponent in 47-year-old Lee Westwood. The two were never more than a stroke apart, though it seemed like DeChambeau was comfortably on top for a good part of the day. At several points, DeChambeau seemed to be poised to give strokes back to the field, but showed he can bomb more than his driver, dropping putts of 37 feet and 50 feet on holes 4 and 11. The putt on the 11th hole was critical to maintain the lead and keep momentum. In all, DeChambeau made 136 feet of putts on Sunday. Just what he needed on a day of grinding out pars. In fact, he parred the last 12 holes to close out the victory. DeChambeau is certainly known more for his driving than his putting, but when it mattered DeChambeau gained 1.9 strokes putting on a typical PGA Tour field according to his Sunday V1 Game round summary. DeChambeau putted well when it mattered most, finishing the week 21st in Putting.

DeChambeau did finish the week 1st in strokes gained off the tee and continues to use his work in the gym to his advantage. Despite Bay Hill having many holes requiring less than driver off the tee, DeChambeau still averaged over 300 yards off the tee each of the 4 days. He fully flexed his muscle on the last two days, cutting the corner on the 6th hole with Max Drives of 378 and 376 yards according to the Driving Distance plot from V1 Game. On Sunday, his drive on the 6th hole found the bunker just short of the green and was 168 yards closer to the hole than Lee Westwood’s tee shot. 168 yards! Still, golf is a game of precision and after two shots, both players were within a few yards of each other off the green and both made birdie.

Which leads to the last point… What DeChambeau is doing with the driver is amazing. In the weeks he is ‘on’, DeChambeau has an ability to separate from the field and guarantee he gains significant Strokes Driving on the field. However, he has his off weeks where that distance and speed will cost him a chance to compete as he sprays the golf ball off the course. The key though, is Approach Game. Bryson’s ball striking with irons and wedges is certainly his current weak spot. He has found a way to get the putts in the hole when it matters, but he consistently loses strokes between approach and short game. Looking at his performance this week, Approach (9th) and Short Game (30th) were good enough, but not great. As he adjusts to his newfound distance, I expect his Strokes Gained Approach to continue to improve.

Bay Hill is not a golf course that was going to be overpowered. It took mental strength and clutch putting to tame the course and shoot the best round of the day on Sunday, holding off Lee Westwood by a single stroke. DeChambeau has put in the work in the gym, with numbers off the launch monitor, and statistics on knowing his tendencies and when to take risks.

If you want to know your numbers and tendencies like Bryson, V1 Game can measure every facet of your game and get you to dominate the course. Whether it’s tracking driving distance gains or clutch putting, V1 Game can guide your practice and track your progress.

 

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Reviewing Mizuno M-Craft Putters, Callaway and Srixon golf balls, and MySIM2 is here!

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First holes of the year have been played and things went well. Mizuno’s M-Craft putter line is solid and very responsive. Callaway’s new Chrome Soft X LS is low spinning and surprisingly forgiving off the tee. Srixon’s new Z Star is a great, soft feeling ball that offers a lot of greenside spin and control. The MySIM2 custom driver I ordered came in and looks AWESOME! I went fully murdered out, but you can go as crazy as you want with colors!

 

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Your driver – Is it your first scoring club?

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I made another visit to “Oz” yesterday, as I took time out from my business trip to Dallas to look inside a PGA Tour Superstore. As I wandered around, looking at what must have been a million dollars or more in inventory, I determined not much has changed in this business since I first started writing this blog over four years and 500 articles ago. So this morning’s blog is a revisit of a topic I wrote about way back then, which still holds true today. It was about thinking of your driver as your first scoring club.

I take great issue with the industry’s extreme, and almost complete focus on distance – not just with the driver, but with the irons as well. Without picking on anyone, some new irons have “P-clubs” 43 degrees of loft (which was an 8-iron when I was younger). Does that really help your game? Is a 6-iron easier to hit if you put an “8” on the bottom? No.

But where this quest for distance is abused the most is on drivers. We see the average driver in the store at 46-47” in length now, when the old standard was 43”, then 44” up to about 6-8 years ago. And average golfers are buying them like hotcakes. But do you realize that very few tour players are using a driver over 45” in length? Why? Because they know they cannot be reasonably accurate with longer drivers! So, if the tour players know they can’t control a driver that is 46-47” long, what the heck makes amateurs thing they can?

A few years ago, GolfSmith did an extensive live golfer test at their huge facility in Austin, Texas, where they had hundreds of golfers hit drivers of all sizes, shapes and lengths. They found that almost every golfer achieved his best average driving distance with drivers that were 43-1/2” long! Now, that was when 45” was the new “standard”, but the point remains clear to me:

Your driver is probably too long for you to hit efficiently!

The fact is, no matter what the technology, a ball hit squarely and solidly will be longer than one hit around the perimeter of the face. And you’ll hit more solid shots if your driver was shorter. You can prove this to yourself. In your next round of golf, grip down on your driver a full inch—or even two—every time you hit it. I’ll bet you’ll find that you hit more solid long drives than you have in some time. And your accuracy will be much improved.

Regardless of your skill level, there isn’t a golf course anywhere that doesn’t play easier from the fairway than it does from the rough, bunkers, OB, water, etc.

In my own case, I did this with three different drivers, and found that with each one, my best performance came when I was gripping the driver to effectively make it 44-1/4” long. I’ve been a scratch or low-handicap player my whole life and historically am a very good driver of the ball. As I began to take advantage of the new technology I found my driving accuracy failing, and I didn’t like it. So, I just began to grip down on these long drivers and my accuracy came right back, without a loss of distance!

Oh, and there’s another significant side benefit to this alteration to your driver. When you shorten it, you can use lead tape to bring the swingweight back up to where it should be. By positioning those few grams of lead tape strategically on the clubhead, you can bias your driver for a draw (weight in the toe) or fade (weight in the heel). You can also place the lead tape in the back of the head for a higher ball flight if you need it, or right on top of the crown behind the face for a lower ball flight.

It’s fun to tinker, and I trust you will find this driver tuning to be interesting and beneficial. And about that title of this article? If you don’t think the driver is your first scoring club, review your last round and count the penalty shots from the tee, and those holes where you took yourself out of play with your tee shot.

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