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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. freowho

    Oct 26, 2019 at 4:10 am

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

  2. David McCune

    Oct 25, 2019 at 9:49 pm

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

    • Gerald Teigrob

      Oct 25, 2019 at 10:38 pm

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

  3. A. Commoner

    Oct 25, 2019 at 7:18 pm

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

  4. Gerald Teigrob

    Oct 25, 2019 at 6:29 pm

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

  5. Pelling

    Oct 25, 2019 at 4:24 pm

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

    • OV

      Oct 27, 2019 at 2:17 am

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

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

  6. Tiger Noods

    Oct 24, 2019 at 6:08 pm

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

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

    • Mark it Zero

      Oct 25, 2019 at 8:19 am

      Hybird

      • Pelling

        Oct 25, 2019 at 4:30 pm

        Now you’re getting pretty technical, Zero…

    • Bill Ryan

      Oct 25, 2019 at 4:39 pm

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

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What to look for in a golf instructor: The difference between transformative and transactional coaching

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Golf instruction comes in all different styles, methods, and formats. With that said, you would think this would be a good thing due to there being so many different types of people in the world. However, it is my opinion that the lack of standardization within the industry makes it confusing for the athlete to determine what kind of golf instruction they should seek out.

Before we can discuss what may or may not be the best type of instruction for yourself, first we need to know what our options are. Whether we are taking a “broad-spectrum approach” to learning or a more personalized approach, it is important to understand that there are differences to each, and some approaches are going to take longer than others to reach goals.

Broad-Spectrum Approach

Welcome to the world of digital golf instruction, where tips from the most famous coaches in the world are a click away. The great thing about the internet and social media for a golfer is there has never been more access to the top minds in the field—and tips and drills are plentiful. With that said, with there being so many choices and differing opinions, it can be very easy to become distracted with the latest tip and can lead to a feeling of being lost.

I would describe “internet coaching”—or YouTube and Instagram surfing—as transactional coaching. You agree to pay, either a monthly fee or provide likes or follows and the professional provides very generalized tips about the golf swing. For athletes that are new to golf or golf instruction, this tends to be the first part of their process.

There are people who prefer a more transactional approach, and there are a ton of people having success working together over the internet with their coach. With that said, for someone who is looking for more of a long-term individualized approach, this may not be the best approach. This broad-spectrum approach also tends to be the slowest in terms of development due to there being a lot of trial and error due to the generalized approach and people having different body types.

Individual Transactional Coaching

Most people who are new to golf instruction will normally seek out their local pro for help. Depending on where you live in the country, what your local pro provides will vary greatly. However, due to it being local and convenient, most golfers will accept this to be the standard golf lesson.

What makes this type of instruction transactional is that there tends to be less long-term planning and it is more of a sick patient-doctor relationship. Lessons are taken when needed and there isn’t any benchmarking or periodization being done. There also tends to be less of a relationship between the coach and player in this type of coaching and it is more of a take it or leave it style to the coaching.

For most recreational or club-level players, this type of coaching works well and is widely available. Assuming that the method or philosophies of the coach align with your body type and goals athletes can have great success with this approach. However, due to less of a relationship, this form of coaching can still take quite some time to reach its goals.

Individual Transformative Coaching

Some people are very lucky, and they live close to a transformative coach, and others, less lucky, have had to search and travel to find a coach that could help them reach their goals. Essentially, when you hire a transformative coach, you are being assigned a golf partner.

Transformative coaching begins with a solid rapport that develops into an all-encompassing relationship centered around helping you become your very best. Technology alone doesn’t make a coach transformative, but it can help when it comes to creating periodization of your development. Benchmarks and goals are agreed upon by both parties and both parties share the responsibility for putting in the work.

Due to transformative coaching tending to have larger goals, the development process tends to take some time, however, the process is more about attainment than achievement. While improved performance is the goal, the periods for both performance and development are defined.

Which One is Right for You?

It really depends on how much you are willing to invest in your development. If you are looking for a quick tip and are just out enjoying the weather with your friends, then maybe finding a drill or two on Instagram to add to your practice might be the ticket. If you are looking to really see some improvement and put together a plan for long-term development, then you are going to have to start looking into what is available in your area and beyond.

Some things to consider when selecting a coach

  • Do they use technology?
  • What are their qualifications when it comes to teaching?
  • Do they make you a priority?

As a golf coach who has access to the most state-of-the-art technology in the industry, I am always going to be biased towards a data-driven approach. That doesn’t mean that you should only consider a golf coach with technology, however, I believe that by having data present, you are able to have a better conversation about the facts with less importance placed on personal preference. Technology also tends to be quite expensive in golf, so be prepared if you go looking for a more high-tech coaching experience, as it is going to cost more than the low-tech alternative.

The general assumption is that if the person you are seeking advice from is a better player than you are, then they know more about the golf swing than you do. This is not always the case, while the better player may understand their swing better than you do yours, that does not make them an expert at your golf swing. That is why it is so important that you consider the qualifications of your coach. Where did they train to coach? Do they have success with all of their players? Do their players develop over a period of time? Do their players get injured? All things to consider.

The most important trait to look for in a transformative coach is that they make you a priority. That is the biggest difference between transactional and transformative coaches, they are with you during the good and bad, and always have your best interest top of mind. Bringing in other experts isn’t that uncommon and continuing education is paramount for the transformative coach, as it is their duty to be able to meet and exceed the needs of every athlete.

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The importance of arm structure

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How the arms hang at address plays a vital role in the golf swing. Often overlooked, the structure in which we place the arms can dictate one’s swing pattern. As mentioned in the article How Posture influences your swing, if you start in an efficient position, impact is much easier to find making, the golf swing more repeatable and powerful.

To start, I opt to have a player’s trail arm bent and tucked in front of them with angle in the trail wrist. While doing so, the trail shoulder can drop below the lead with a slight bend from the pelvis. This mirrors an efficient impact position.

I always prefer plays to have soft and slightly bent arms. This promotes arm speed in the golf swing. No other sports are played with straight arms, neither should golf.

From this position, it’s easier to get the clubhead traveling first, sequencing the backswing into a dynamic direction of turn.

@peterthomson

When a player addresses the ball with straight arms, they will often tilt with their upper body in the backswing. This requires more recovery in the downswing to find their impact position with the body.

A great drill to get the feeling of a soft-bent trail arm is to practice pushing a wall with your trail arm. Start in your golf set-up, placing your trail hand against the wall. You will instinctively start with a bent trail arm.

Practice applying slight pressure to the wall to get the feeling of a pushing motion through impact?. When trying the drill with a straight trail alarm, you will notice the difference between the two? arm structures.

www.kelleygolf.com

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What is ground force in the golf swing?

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There is no doubt about it, the guys and gals on tour have found something in the ground—and that something is power and speed. I’m sure by now you have heard of “ground reaction forces”—and I’m not talking about how you “shift your weight” during the golf swing.

Ground force in the golf swing: Pressure and force are not equal

With respect to ground force in the golf swing, it’s important to understand the difference between pressure and force. Pressure is your perception of how your weight is being balanced by the structure, in this case, the human body. Your body has a center of mass which is located roughly one inch behind the belt buckle for men and about one inch lower in women. When we shift (translate and/or torque) the center of mass, we create a pressure shift as the body has to “rebalance” the mass or body. This pressure shift can help us understand some aspects of the golf swing, but when it comes to producing power, force and torque are where it’s at.

Pressure can only be expressed in relation to the mass or weight of the body. Therefore, if you weigh 150 pounds, you can only create 150 pounds of pressure at one time. However, when we direct that mass at a larger object than our mass, all of a sudden that larger mass directs an opposite and equal reactionary force. So now, when a human being “pushes” their legs against the ground and “feels” 150 pounds of pressure, they now get 150 pounds of force directed back towards them from the ground, creating a total of 300 pounds of force that allows them to jump off the ground in this scenario.

If ground reaction forces don’t have anything to do with the “weight shift,” then what do they affect? Everything!

Most people use the same basic ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies. However, almost everyone has chocolate chip cookies that taste slightly different. Why is that? That is because people are variable and use the ingredients in different amounts and orders. When we create a golf swing, whether we are aware of it or not, we are using the same basic ingredients as everyone else: lateral force, vertical torque, and vertical force. We use these same three forces every time we move in space, and how much and when we use each force changes the outcome quite a bit.

Welcome to the world of 3D!

Understanding how to adjust the sequencing and magnitude of these forces is critical when it comes to truly owning and understand your golf swing. The good news is that most of our adjustments come before the swing and have to do with how we set up to the ball. For example, if an athlete is having a hard time controlling low point due to having too much lateral force in the golf swing (fats and thins), then we narrow up the stance width to reduce the amount of lateral force that can be produced in the swing. If an athlete is late with their vertical force, then we can square up the lead foot to promote the lead leg straightening sooner and causing the vertical force to happen sooner.

While we all will need to use the ground differently to play our best golf, two things need to happen to use the ground effectively. The forces have to exist in the correct kinetic sequence (lateral, vertical torque, vertical force), and the peaks of those forces need to be created within the correct windows (sequencing).

  • Lateral force – Peak occurs between top-of-swing and lead arm at 45 degrees
  • Vertical torque – Peak occurs between lead arm being 45 degrees and the lead arm being parallel to the ground.
  • Vertical force – Peak occurs between lead arm being parallel to the ground the club shaft being parallel to the ground.

While it may seem obvious, it’s important to remember ground reaction forces are invisible and can only be measured using force plates. With that said, their tends to be apprehension about discussing how we use the ground as most people do not have access to 3D dual force plates. However, using the screening process designed by Mike Adams, Terry Rowles, and the BioSwing Dynamics team, we can determine what the primary forces used for power production are and can align the body in a way to where the athlete can access his/her full potential and deliver the club to the ball in the most effective and efficient way based off their predispositions and anatomy.

In addition to gaining speed, we can help athletes create a better motion for their anatomy. As golfers continue to swing faster, it is imperative that they do so in a manner that doesn’t break down their body and cause injury. If the body is moving how it is designed, and the forces acting on the joints of the body are in the correct sequence and magnitude, not only do we know they are getting the most out of their swing, but we know that it will hold up and not cause an unforeseen injury down the road.

I truly believe that force plates and ground reaction forces will be as common as launch monitors in the near future. Essentially, a launch monitor measures the effect and the force plates measure the cause, so I believe we need both for the full picture. The force plate technology is still very expensive, and there is an educational barrier for people seeking to start measuring ground reaction forces and understanding how to change forces, magnitudes, and sequences, but I’m expecting a paradigm shift soon.

 

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