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Buying new irons? This is the most important fitting parameter

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

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

We’re here to help.

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

The process

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

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

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

Descent angle

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

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

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

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

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Tom K

    Aug 30, 2020 at 10:45 pm

    I paid $150 fro a driver fitting at Club Champion and told the fitter I wanted a shft profile similar to the YS6 that I have on my 3 wood. I just kill theat 3 wood. He puts me into a $300 Aldila and M1 head and ssows me great numbers. That club never worked fro me. I talked to the mfr. of my 3 wood shaft and he put me on yo their new NanoReloaded. The new vesion of the YS6. Biught a Ping 400LS for hte head and smoke that driver. I have very little confidence on what some 25 handicapper tells me I should hit. Demo as many shafts as you can and find a clubhead you like. Same for irons.

  2. Bagadonitz

    Jul 17, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    Golf

  3. Robert Cangey

    Jun 30, 2020 at 7:15 pm

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

  4. Parker

    Jun 19, 2020 at 12:34 pm

    Great article thank you.

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

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

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

  5. Imafitter

    Jun 17, 2020 at 8:23 pm

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

  6. David

    Jun 17, 2020 at 1:33 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

  7. Reid

    Jun 17, 2020 at 10:01 am

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

    • J

      Jun 19, 2020 at 9:36 am

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

      • gunmetal

        Jun 29, 2020 at 11:40 am

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

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The Wedge Guy: Equipment tidbits for you to think about

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One of the most fun things about being a golfer is that we all want to get better–hit drives longer and straighter, iron shots that find greens more often, pitches and chips that get closer, and putts that go in more often. And we all seem to take great pleasure in finding that next “missing link” in our bags that will help us achieve one of those goals.

Today I want to share some thoughts about how little things can often mean a lot when it comes to tweaking your equipment. On the surface, a golf club seems to be a pretty simple thing—a piece of metal, at the end of a tubular piece of metal or graphite, with a rubber-like handle at the end. But when that golf club is put into motion at 100 mph or so, a lot of dynamics begin to happen.

As we ponder the dynamics of the complex action of swinging a golf club and the broad set of mechanics that come into play on every shot, I thought I’d share some random observations I’ve made over the years about equipment cause and effect:

Increasing your driving distance: The industry has taken us on this dramatic quest for distance and power, and the average driver sold today is over 45” long. That’s two inches longer than the standard of 25 years ago. And while the humongous driver heads brag about “forgiveness”, the fact is that your longest drives (and straightest) will always come from dead center hits. It’s still a fact that a sweet spot miss of just ½” will cost you 7-9% distance loss, and a miss of 3/4” will increase that to 12-15%. I suggest you try gripping down on your driver an inch or more the next time you play and see if you don’t hit the ball closer to the sweet spot and see it consistently going longer and straighter. It’s been proven over and over again.

Examining iron specs: The “standard” way a set of irons was engineered for decades was that the irons vary in length by ½”, and in loft by 4 degrees. But the past few years – driven by the relentless quest for distance – we have seen the loft gaps increased to 5° at the short end of the set and as small as 2.5° at the long end. The harsh reality of this geometry is that almost every golfer will have much smaller distance gaps at the long end of the set than at the short end, where distance precision is critical. I have tweaked my irons for years so that I have smaller length and lie differences at the short end than the long, and that allows my distance gaps to be more consistent. Most golfers could benefit from examining their TRUE carry distances from club to club and then tweaking lofts and lengths to fix their gapping.

Fit your putter. It amazes me to watch how many golfers–even some of the pros on TV–and see the toe of the putter up in the air at address. Simple fact is that this makes the face point left because of the loft. I’ve become a true believer in putter fitting. A good fit will ensure that your putter really is aimed at the target, and that the lie angle allows the ball to come off the putter straight. Yes, the style of putter is a matter of personal preference, but a putter that is accurately fit to you makes this maddening part of the game much less so.

Watch your grips. We spend hundreds of dollars on a driver or set of irons, and we get disposable “handles”. It’s a fact that grips wear out. They get dirty. And they need replacing regularly. Take a close look at yours. Worn, dirty grips cause you to grip the club tighter to have control. And bad shots are much more frequent because of that.

Experiment. The toys are a big part of the fun of golf, so don’t be afraid to experiment. I’ve long suggested all golfers should try the blade style short irons of one of your better player friends or pros, but experiment with other clubs, too. Hit your buddies’ hybrids, fairways, irons, drivers. Try different golf balls. [But I just can’t buy that tees can make a difference, sorry.] It’s fun.

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