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Opinion & Analysis

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 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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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Reviewing Callaway’s NEW Apex UW and Graphite Design’s Tour AD UB shaft

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Callaway’s new Apex UW wood blends a fairway wood and hybrid together for wild distance and accuracy. The UW is easy to hit and crazy long but also lets skilled players work the ball however they would like. Graphite Design’s new Tour AD UB shaft is a new stout mid-launch and mid/low-spin shaft. Smooth and tight, this shaft takes a little more of the left side out of shots.

 

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Your game vs. The pros

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I know most of us like to watch golf on TV. Seeing these marvelous (mostly) young athletes do these amazing things with a golf ball makes for great theater. But the reality is that they play a very different game than we do, and they play it differently as well.

I’ve long contended that most rank-and-file recreational golfers cannot really learn a whole lot by watching men’s professional golf on TV. It would be like watching NASCAR or Formula One racing and looking for tips on how to be a better driver.

The game is different. The athletes are different. And the means to an end are entirely different. Let me offer you some things to ponder in support of this hypothesis.

First, these tour professionals ARE highly skilled and trained athletes. They spend time in the gym every day working on flexibility, strength, and agility. Then they work on putting and short game for a few hours, before going to the range and very methodically and deliberately hit hundreds of balls.

Now, consider that the “typical” recreational golfer is over 45 years old, likely carrying a few extra pounds, and has a job, family or other life requirements that severely limit practice time. Regular stretching and time at the gym are not common. The most ardent will get in maybe one short range session a week, and a few balls to warm up before a round of golf.

The tour professionals also have a complete entourage to help them optimize their skills and talents. It starts with an experienced caddie who is by their side for every shot. Then there are the swing coaches, conditioning coaches, mental coaches, and agents to handle any “side-shows” that could distract them. You, on the other hand, have to be all of those to your game.

Also, realize they play on near-perfect course conditions week to week. Smooth greens, flawless fairways cut short to promote better ball-striking — even bunkers that are maintained to PGA Tour standards and raked to perfection by the caddies after each shot.

Watch how perfectly putts roll; almost never wavering because of a spike mark or imperfection, and the holes are almost always positioned on a relatively flat part of the green. You rarely see a putt gaining speed as it goes by the hole, and grain is a non-factor.

So, given all that, is it fair for to you compare your weekly round (or rounds) to what you see on television?

The answer, of course, is NO. But there ARE a lot of things you can learn by watching professional golf on TV, and that applies to all the major tours.

THINK. As you size up any shot, from your drive to the last putt, engage your mind and experience. What side of the fairway is best for my approach? Where is the safe side of the flag as I play that approach? What is the best realistic outcome of this chip or pitch? What do I recall about the slope of this green and its speed? Use your brain to give yourself the best chance on every shot.

FOCUS. These athletes take a few minutes to drown out the “noise” and put their full attention to every shot. But we all can work to learn how to block out the “noise” and prepare ourselves for your best effort on every shot. It only takes a few additional seconds to get “in the zone” so your best has a chance to happen.

PAY ATTENTION TO DETAILS. You have complete control over your set-up, ball position and alignment, so grind a bit to make sure those basics are right before you begin your swing. It’s amazing to me how little attention rank-and-file golfers pay to these basics. And I’m firmly convinced that the vast majority of bad shots are “pre-ordained” because these basics are not quite right.

SHAKE IT OFF. The game is one shot at a time – the next one. That has been preached over and over, and something most pros do exceedingly well. Very often you see them make a birdie right after a bogey or worse, because the professional bears down on these three basics more after he had just slacked on them and made a bogey or worse.

MEDIOCRE SHOTS ARE THE NORM. And those will be interspersed with real bad ones and real good ones. Those guys are just like us, in that “mediocre” is the norm (relatively speaking, that is). So go with that. Shake off the bad ones and bask in the glory of the good ones – they are the shots that keep us coming back.

Let me dive into that last point a bit deeper, because some of you might find it strange that I claim that “mediocre shots are the norm,” even for tour professionals. First, let’s agree that a “mediocre” shot for a 20-handicap player looks quite different that what a tour pro would consider “mediocre.” Same goes for a “poor shot.” But a great shot looks pretty much the same to all of us – a well-struck drive that splits the fairway, an approach that leaves a reasonable birdie putt, a chip or pitch for an up-and-down, and any putt that goes in the hole.

Finally, I will encourage all of you – once again – to make sure you are playing from a set of tees that tests your skills in proportion to how their courses test theirs. This past weekend, for example, the winner shot 25 under par “on the card” . . . but consider that Summit had four reachable par-fives (most with iron shots) and a drivable par-four, so I contend it was really a “par 68” golf course at best. Based on that “adjusted par”, then only 20 players beat that benchmark by more than 5 shots for the week. So, obviously, the rest pretty much played “mediocre” golf (for them).

So, did your last round have at least one or two par-fives you can reach with two shots? And did you hit at least 10-12 other approach shots with a short iron or wedge in your hands? More likely, you played a “monster” course (for you) that had zero two-shot par fives and several par-fours that you could not reach with two of your best wood shots. And your typical approach shot was hit with a mid-iron or hybrid.

The game is supposed to be fun – and playing the right tees can make sure it has a chance to be just that. Paying attention to these basics for every shot can help you get the most out of whatever skills you brought to the links on any given day.

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Opinion & Analysis

The ghost of Allan Robertson: A few thoughts on the distance debate

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It’s that time of year in certain parts of the world. Ghosts, ghouls, and ghoblins roam the lawns. Departed ancestors return to these fields to visit with living descendants. It’s also a time (is it ever not?) when curmudgeons and ancients decry the advances of technology in the world of golf equipment.

Pretty big narrative leap, I’ll admit, but I have your attention, aye? An October 16th tweet from noted teacher Jim McClean suggested that it would be fun to see PGA Tour players tee it up for one week with wooden heads and a balata ball.

Others beg for a rolling-back of technological potency, raising property acreage as a critical determinant. Fact is, 90 percent of golfers have no experience with hitting the ball too far, nor with outgrowing a golf course. And yet, the cries persist.

Recently, I was awakened from a satisfying slumber by the ghost of Allan Robertson. The long-dead Scot was in a lather, equal parts pissed at Old Tom Morris for playing a guttie, and at three social-media channels, all of which had put him on temporary suspension for engaging violently with unsupportive followers. He also mentioned the inaccuracies of his Wikipedia page, which credits him for a 100-year old business, despite having only spent the better part of 44 years on this terrestrial sphere. Who knew that the afterlife offered such drip internet access?

I’m not certain if Old Tom cared (or was even alive) that his beloved gutta percha ball was replaced by the Haskell. I believe him to have been preoccupied with the warming of the North Sea (where he took his morning constitutional swims) and the impending arrival of metal shafts and laminated-wood heads. Should that also long-dead Scot pay me a nighttime visit, I’ll be certain to ask him. I do know that Ben Hogan gave no sheets about technology’s advances; he was in the business of making clubs by then, and took advantage of those advances. Sam Snead was still kicking the tops of doors, and Byron Nelson was pondering the technological onslaught of farriers, in the shoeing of horses on his ranch.

And how about the women? Well, the ladies of golfing greatness have better things to do than piss and moan about technology. They concern themselves with what really matters in golf and in life. Sorry, fellas, it’s an us-problem. Records are broken thanks to all means of advancement. Want to have some fun? Watch this video or this video or this video. If you need much more, have a reassessment of what matters.

Solutions

Either forget the classic courses or hide the holes. Classic golf courses cannot stand up in length alone to today’s professional golfers. Bringing in the rough takes driver out of their hands, and isn’t a course supposed to provide a viable challenge to every club in the bag? Instead, identify four nearly-impossible locations on every putting surface, and cut the hole in one of them, each day. Let the fellows take swings at every par-4 green with driver, at every par-five green with driver and plus-one. Two things will happen: the frustration from waiting waiting waiting will eliminate the mentally-weak contestants, and the nigh-impossible putting will eliminate even more of them. What will happen with scoring? I don’t know. Neither did Old Tom Morris, Robert Tyre Jones, Jr., Lady Heathcoat Amory, or Mildred Didrickson, when new technology arrived on the scene. They shrugged their shoulders, stayed away from Twitter and the Tok, and went about their business.

Add the tournament courses. Build courses that can reach 8,500 yards in length, and hold events on those layouts. Two examples from other sports: the NFL made extra points longer. Has it impacted game results? Maybe. The NBA kept the rim at ten feet. Has it impacted game results? Maybe. We don’t play MLB or MLS on ancient diamonds and pitches. We play their matches and games on technologically-advanced surfaces. Build/Retrofit a series of nondescript courses as tournament venues. Take the par-5 holes to 700 yards, then advance the par-4 fairways to 550 yards. Drive and pitch holes check-in at 400 yards, at least until Bryson DeChambeau and Kyle Berkshire figure a few more things out.

Note to the young guys and the old guys from this 55-year old guy: live your era, then let it go. I know things.

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