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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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What makes a golf ball curve? (GolfWRX explains)

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At some point, every golfer has asked the question “Why did that shot slice? Why did that shot hook? How did that shot go straight?”

The simple answer is physics, but the actual reason is a little bit more complicated and has to do with the relationship the golf ball has with the golf club as it approaches contact, but that’s why we’re here to explain why your golf ball travels where it does.

Zach Galifianakis Algorithm GIF by Product Hunt - Find & Share on GIPHY

It’s all about spin axis – AKA “sidespin”

Spin Axis – Trackman Golf

Side spin is the commonly used, but incorrect way to describe the spin axis of a golf ball as it travels through the air. Rather than try and define it myself, I will refer to the experts at Trackman to help me explain what’s really going on.

“Spin Axis is the tilt angle relative to the horizon of the golf ball’s resulting rotational axis immediately after separation from the club face (post impact).”

“The spin axis can be associated to the wings of an airplane. If the wings of an airplane are parallel to the ground, this would represent a zero spin axis and the plane would fly straight. If the wings were banked/tilted to the left (right wing higher than left wing), this would represent a negative spin axis and the plane would bank/curve to the left. And the opposite holds true if the wings are banked/tilted to the right.”

Unlike a plane in the example used by our friends at Trackman, a golf ball has no propulsion system, and all the force that causes it to move comes from the golf club. Depending on how the club makes contact with the ball will result in how the ball will fly. It’s no different than how a tennis or ping-pong ball travels through the air after it is struck with a racket or paddle – a golf club is just a “paddle” with a much longer handle length.

Why does a golfball curve right and left?

There are 2 main factors of the impact that influence how a golfball will curve;

  • The direction the clubface is aimed relative to the target line at impact
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  • The direction the club is moving at the moment of impact
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Face-to-path – How to hit a draw

So now that we have a better understanding of why the golf ball curves in one direction or the other, the video below from TrackMan and Martin Chuck does a great job explaining the relationship of face to path, and how to hit a draw.

How to hit a straight golf shot

Being able to hit a straight shot is one of the most difficult things to do in the game of golf. The reason professionals don’t intentionally hit straight shots very often is that when it’s not executed properly it can create a shot that misses both right and left and if there is one thing professionals and low handicap players like to see is a golf ball that misses in one direction.

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Beyond the relationship between the clubface and path, hollow golf clubs also have another factor at play, and that is the bulge and roll – curvature of the face from top to bottom and side to side. This curvature combined with the gear effect of hitting a shot outside the sweet spot results in the club imparting a higher measured spin axis and as a result the ball curves even more.

Check out this video below by TXG demonstrating how strike location on a driver has an effect on how the golf ball curves.

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