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Opinion & Analysis

Fitting talk: Check your ego at the door

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I’ve conducted a lot of club fittings in my career and have also been on the other side of the equation getting fit by both brand-agnostic fitters and individual OEMs.

If there is one piece of advice beyond properly preparing for your fitting, it is to approach the entire experience with an open mind—because the one thing that has ruined just as many fittings as it has rounds of golf is ego.

Having the ability to check your ego at the door and not letting any preconceived notions dictate results is difficult, but it is by far the best way to make sure you end up with the best-fitted clubs for you.

Now don’t confuse checking ego, and being inquisitive. You should still ask questions and speak up about anything you may not feel comfortable about during your fitting because that is equally important—but whether its a style of club, driver loft, or even shaft flex, remember there is no official industry standard, so what you might think you need may be very different from final recommendations.

Monitors don’t lie – they just interpret data

Launch monitors, whether camera or radar-based, only interpret the data they are given, and if calibrated properly it is extremely rare to see unusual results. One of the most important things that can be manually set on most monitors is the altitude above sea-level which can throw results off. If you happen to play most of your golf at a different elevation than where you are getting fit be sure to mention it to your fitter because it can play a role in final results: Lofting up for altitude.

Carry distance is key

When talking with fitters the number one comment I hear over and over is that most golfers overestimate how far they hit their clubs, especially irons, and attribute any “lack of distance” in a fitting to an issue with the launch monitor. The largest reason for this is too many golfers only ever see what the golf ball ends up rather than when it lands, and if you don’t play a course with a lot of forced carries it can be a surprising bit of information if you haven’t been on a launch monitor before.

I wrote a piece earlier this year about descent angle and why it plays such a large factor in scoring (you check out the entire piece here: The most important fitting parameter for irons) but for those looking for a summary – the better you can increase descent angle and stop the ball quicker, the easier it is to get close to the hole and give your self a better opportunity to score.

Scoring should be your only concern

A lot of manufacturers talk distance, the same way car companies talk about 0-60mph, but that distance isn’t relevant if you don’t know where it’s going the same way trying to accelerate in a traffic jam isn’t the best way to get from point A to point B.

Being able to improve consistency, and reduce dispersion should be the main goal with every club in your bag, and if you can do that you are going to play better golf regardless of how fast you swing or how far you hit your clubs and it will lead to lower 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.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: What makes a golf course ‘tough?’

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I found this past weekend’s golf to be some of the most entertaining and thought-provoking of the season. While the men of the PGA Tour found a challenging and tough Muirfield Village, the women of the LPGA were getting a taste of a true championship-caliber layout at Olympic Club, the sight of many historic U.S. Opens.

In both cases, the best players in the world found themselves up against courses that fought back against their extraordinary skills and talents. Though neither course appeared to present fairways that were ridiculously narrow, nor greens that were ultra-fast and diabolical, scoring was nowhere near the norms we’ve grown accustomed to seeing on the professional tours.

So, that begs the question – what is it exactly that makes a course tough for these elite players? And is that any different from those things that make a course tough for the rest of us?

From my observation, the big difference for both the ladies and the men was the simple fact that Muirfield Village and Olympic shared the same traits – deep rough alongside each fairway, deep bunkers, and heavy rough around the greens. In other words — unlike most of the venues these pros face each week, those two tracks put up severe penalties for their not-so-good shots — and their awful ones.

Setting aside the unfortunate turn of events for John Rahm – who appeared to be playing a different game for the first three days – only 18 of the best male players in the game managed to finish under par at Muirfield Village. That course offered up measurable penalties for missed fairways and greens, as it was nearly impossible to earn a GIR from the rough, and those magical short games were compromised a lot – Colin Morikawa even whiffed a short chip shot because the gnarly lie forced him to try to get “cute” with his first attempt. If you didn’t see it, he laid a sand wedge wide open and slid it completely under the ball — it didn’t move at all!

On the ladies’ side, these elite players were also challenged at the highest level, with errant drives often totally preventing a shot that had a chance of holding the green — or even reaching it. And the greenside rough and deep bunkers of Olympic Club somewhat neutralized their highly refined greenside scoring skills.

So, the take-away from both tournaments is the same, the way I see it.

If a course is set up to more severely penalize the poor drives and approaches — of which there are many by these players — and to make their magical short game skills more human-like, you will see these elite players struggle more like the rest of us.

So, I suggest all of you think about your last few rounds and see what makes your course(s) play tough. Does it penalize your not-so-good drives by making a GIR almost impossible, or is it too challenging around the greens for your scoring skills? Maybe the greens are so fast and diabolical that you don’t get as much out of your putting as you think you should? Or something else entirely?

My bet is that a thoughtful reflection on your last few rounds will guide you to what you should be working on as you come into the peak of the 2021 golf season.

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: My 3-wood search, Mizuno ST-Z driver, and Srixon divide golf ball review

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I am on the search for a 3-wood this year and talk a little about my top 3 that I have been hitting. Hit on the pros and cons of each option and what might be in the bag next week. The Mizuno ST-Z was on the course and a really good driver for players who want forgiveness but don’t need any draw bias. The Srixon Q-Star Tour Divide is a cool 2-tone ball that makes short game practice more interesting.

 

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: How to turn technical thinking into task-based think in your golf game

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The mind can only be in one place at a time at 40 bits of information per second. To build a golf swing this way would be like an ant building New York City this way: a most impossible task. When you are task-based you are using the human self-preserving system, that works at 40 million bits per second, choose wisely.

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