Next time you hit the range or golf course, take a good look into your golf bag. Is there a specific, meaningful reason that each one of those clubs is in your bag? If not, it’s probably time for a change.
Recently, I spoke with Craig Allan, Master Club Fitter at Sea Island’s Golf Performance Center, about the misconceptions among gear heads, how Tour pros select their clubs and the importance of fitting for all golfers.
“Don’t change just to change, change because it matters.”
Allan says he’s been a club junkie since he was 10 years old, and now has his dream job; he’s a fitter at Sea Island where pros such as Zach Johnson and Billy Horschel not only call their home, but tinker with and dial in their equipment. He works with golfers of all skill levels, however, so he knows the mistakes amateurs and beginners make, as well as what they can learn from the pros.
Zach and Billy
Zach Johnson and Billy Horschel made news in the equipment world this offseason with their switch to PXG, a new equipment company headed by billionaire Bob Parsons. And both players made their switch to PXG under the supervision of Allan, so he saw first hand what a major equipment and sponsor change is like for a PGA Tour player.
What made them switch?
“Tour Pros don’t switch unless [golf clubs] are better,” Allan said. “The irons are undeniably better. [PXG] hit a home run with its irons.”
Allan said he and Johnson not only tested PXG’s new clubs on Trackman, but also took them out to the course to see how they would perform.
“He [Johnson] was peppering flagsticks with them,” Allan said.
While Allan says Johnson takes a very thoughtful and calculated approach to changing equipment, Horschel is less scientific. For example, Allan said once they find a shaft or club that Horschel likes and performs well, Horschel says “OK, I like it,” and it goes in the bag.
The different approaches to making equipment changes varies greatly between Tour pros, and Allan says he’s “seen it all.” Without naming names, he said “there have been some great players (who he has worked with), reluctant to make changes even when a club is better.”
“Sometimes [PGA Tour players] won’t switch because of familiarity with a club, but [a club] always has to be better before it goes in the bag,” Allan said.
Beginners aren’t good enough to get fit?
Should beginners bother getting fit, or should they build a solid game first? It’s a classic debate, and one a PGA Tour Master Fitter is more than qualified to answer.
“A beginner can absolutely get better [through a club fitting],” Allan said. “A fundamentally sound setup is most important, but if they have the wrong equipment in their hands, they will have to make compensations.”
He says any beginner who says he or she isn’t good enough to get fit is making a “flawed statement.” That’s why he encourages all golfers to get fit for golf clubs, even if it’s not a 14-club set. Of course, golf is expensive, and can be quite intimidating at first.
“If a player just wants to get a driver, or a wedge, 7-iron and driver, or a set with alternating irons, it doesn’t matter,” Allan said. “Just get golf clubs that fit!”
But seriously, who benefits most from a club fitting? According to Allan there are two types of golfers who benefit the most from getting fit. One is a golfer who is too stubborn to change his/her swing. They can see drastic improvements from getting proper equipment. Allan also says golfers who are constantly changing their equipment can also see huge gains… as long as they stick to them. They’re going to change anyway, so it might as well be into the correct clubs, right?
The golf equipment world is littered with information — some of it is the truth, some of it is very misleading. Allan breaks down a few of the common misconceptions he hears and reads from misguided golfers, which you might also hear in the GolfWRX Forums, below.
Myth No. 1: “Any shaft can fix any club.”
Allan says: All shaft companies can make a shaft that does certain things, but it has to marry to the club head. A lot of people think that they can put an expensive shaft in any club head and it will perform. That isn’t right. The club head and shaft need to be a marriage. Different shafts give you options to find that right mix.
Myth No. 2: “Tour players change grinds based on course conditions.”
Allan says: People think these guys are changing grinds for each course or for weather conditions. That’s just not true, most of the time. They play the wedges that are best for their game and swing.
Myth No. 3: “PGA Tour players are always changing equipment, so I need to keep up with what’s best, too.”
Allan says: Fine-tuning is more common through the year than equipment changes. Some guys are really sensitive to change, some not so much. But working with Tour players is easy because they know what they want, even the feel players.
So what can gear heads and golfers like myself learn from Allan’s years of expertise and work with the world’s best golfers? Before making a change in equipment, make sure it’s actually better; don’t change just to change.
What Adam Scott said about his new 681.AS irons
- Editor’s note: We originally filed this piece for the Equipment Report on PGATOUR.com.
Adam Scott has used the same irons — Titleist Forged 680 — for the better part of 10 years.
“When you’re old and stubborn, you like what you like,” the 41-year-old told PGATOUR.COM.
Indeed, as he has transitioned into Titleist’s latest woods and wedges, the 14-time PGA TOUR winner has remained steadfast in playing his 2003 680 irons with KBS Tour 130 X shafts.
It was interesting, then, to see Scott with a different — but very similar — set of irons in the bag ahead of THE CJ CUP @ SUMMIT.
At a glance, the visually stunning irons look identically shaped to the 680s we’re used to seeing in Scott’s bag — similar large muscle pad on the rear of the club, similar hosel transition, similar generous amount of offset, similar topline. However, the irons looked substantially less worn and were stamped with 681.AS on the hosel.
What’s going on here?
Titleist declined to comment, but PGATOUR.COM caught up with Scott, who shared some details. As it turns out the new irons are the same…sort of.
Before digging into the 681.AS, we asked Scott why he doesn’t simply continue playing 680 irons, and when a set wears out, replace them with another. The answer, he said, was simple. Titleist “just ran out of original sets,” which the company stopped producing in 2005.
What to do? Scour eBay and used club stores? Frequent garage sales?
Scott indicated Titleist engineers took a different tack: They made CAD (computer-aided design) copies of his beloved 680s and CNC-machined what he called, “basically the same clubs.”
“Thanks to technology,” he said, “they’re as exact a replica as you can get, but with the way they’ve been made, I could argue it’s a more solid head with a more solid strike.
“I’ve been stuck on the 680s for a long time now,” he added. “…We’ve tried some stuff here and there. We tried bending the 620 MBs earlier this year, which I actually used at the Masters. I’ve been looking for 12 months for that new fresh set with good feel in the hands and good vibes, and we just couldn’t get there, so they took this project on.”
He continued: “It’s very nice for me that Titleist was able to do that. I know what I know. I’ve played it so long, I’m at a point where I think it’s detrimental to go searching and trying to change. I know how I play, and I know what I need to play well.”
Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (10/15/21): Tour Issue Rare Odyssey Stroke Lab Jailbird Mini
At GolfWRX, we love golf, plain and simple.
We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment of the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball. It even allows us to share another thing we all love – buy and selling equipment.
Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for a Tour Issue Rare Odyssey Stroke Lab Jailbird Mini
From the seller (@Hunter01): “Rare Tour Issue Odyssey Stroke Lab mini putter. From the tour van with tour crimp on hosel. 35” long with grip options available. This putter never came to retail but we’re made available to the tour in limited quantities. 329 firm.”
To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: Tour Issue Rare Odyssey Stroke Lab Jailbird Mini
L.A.B Golf unveils new MEZZ.1 Proto putter
L.A.B Golf has soft-launched its new MEZZ.1. Proto, which is currently limited to just 1,000 individually numbered putters.
The new mid-mallet putter is fully CNC machined from a billet of 6061 aircraft aluminum (body) and 303 stainless steel (midsection) for what L.A.B are calling their “best-feeling putter to date”.
The new addition includes 10 weights (eight on the bottom, two on the sides) that allow the company to individually build each putter to a golfer’s exact specifications.
Golfers can also choose their preferred alignment aid, with blank (no marking), line, and dot all offered with the new MEZZ.1 Proto.
The putter comes equipped with a headcover and is available to purchase now at LabGolf.com for $600.00.
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