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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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Podcasts

On Spec: The TRUTH about club fitting | How I got into the golf industry

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This week’s show goes deep into the subject of what club fitting can do to help golfers play better and also, what it can’t do. The discussion includes a wide-ranging spectrum of questions about cost, technology, advantages, and limitations of the process.

The final part of the show answers a common question about how the host (Ryan Barath) got into the golf business, and the long road to sitting in front of the microphone each week.

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The Gear Dive: The TXG Boys are back!

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In this episode of TGD brought to you by Titleist, Johnny catches up with Ian Fraser and Mike Martysiewicz of TXG. They discuss their top club picks of 2020 and what to expect in 2021.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Is lighter always longer?

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One of the continuing trends in golf clubs – particularly drivers – is the pursuit of increasingly lighter shafts; this obsessive goal has given us the premise that the lighter the club, the faster you can swing it. And that idea is driven by the relentless pursuit of distance at all levels, and for all golfers.

But as long as he is, for example, Dustin Johnson ran away with the Masters because he was exactly that – a “master” at ball control and precision. DJ outperformed almost everyone in the field in terms of fairways and greens. That gave him more birdie putts, better looks because of his precise approach shots, and many fewer tough par saves.

But my topic today is to pose the question: “Is lighter really the key to being longer for all of us “recreational” golfers?”
Let me begin by saying that “recreational” doesn’t mean any lack of seriousness or dedication to the game. Hitting better shots and shooting lower scores is the goal for all of us who care about our golf games, right? What I mean is that we do not make our living playing the game. We do not practice incessantly. We do not spend hours at the gym every day specifically preparing our bodies to optimize our golf skills.

Today I’m going to put on my “contrarian” cap and challenge this assumption of “lighter is longer” on a couple of bases.
First, if you watch every accomplished player, you will see that the body core rotation is fast enough to “beat” the hands and clubhead to the ball. All instructors agree that the big muscles of the legs and body core are the key to power and repeatability in the golf swing. The faster you can rotate your body through impact, the more power you generate, which flows down the arms, through the hands and shaft and to the clubhead. This is a basic law of “golf swing physics”.

The simple fact is, the speed at which you can fire these big muscles is not going to be measurably impacted by removing another half ounce or less of weight from your driver. But what that removal of weight can do is to possibly allow for your hands to be faster, which would aggravate the problem I see in most mid- to high-handicap players. That problem is that their body core is not leading the swing, but rather it is following the arms and hands through impact.

Secondly, speed without precision is essentially worthless to you, and likely even counter-productive to your goal of playing better golf. Even with the big 460cc drivers, a miss of the sweet spot by just a half inch can cost you 8-12% of your optimum distance. You could never remove enough weight from the driver to increase your club speed by that amount. So, the key to consistently longer drives is to figure out how to make consistently more precise impact with the ball.

No golf adage is always true, but my experience and observation of thousands of golfers indicates to me that the fastest route to better driver distance is to get more precise with your impact and swing path, and not necessarily increasing your clubhead speed. And that may well be served by moving to a slightly heavier driver, not a lighter one.

I’ll end this by offering that this is not an experiment to conduct in a hitting bay with a launch monitor, but rather by playing a few rounds with a driver that is heavier than your current “gamer”.

Continuing with my “contrarian” outlook on many aspects of golf equipment, the typical driver “fitting” is built around an intense session on a launch monitor, where you might hit 30-40 or more drives in an hour or so. But the reality of golf is that your typical round of golf involves only 12-13 drives hit over a four-hour period, each one affected by a number of outside influences. But that’s an article for another time.

For this week, think about pulling an older, heavier driver from your closet or garage and giving it a go for a round or two and see what happens.

I would like to end today’s post by wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. It’s been a helluva year for all of us, so let’s take some time this week to count our individual and collective blessings.

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