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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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The 19th Hole Episode 170: Grassroots golf and Darius Rucker

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Host Michael Williams talks about the benefits of grassroots golf programs in growing the game. Also features a reboot of his exclusive interview with Hootie and the Blowfish.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Have a ‘Plan B’

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One of the things that I think is very interesting and fun about this game is that there are a number of ways to play every hole you encounter. And sometimes a hole offers “better” ways to play it than you might think. Let me explain with a couple of experiences from my own golf life.

ONE. In my thirties and forties, I played at a club outside of San Antonio – Fair Oaks Ranch. The 18th hole was a tough par 4 with a very small landing area and a gaping bunker at about 175 out. The skinny fairway left of that bunker wasn’t more than 15 yards wide, and there was a little mott of trees on the green side of the bunker that you would have to carry with your mid-iron bunker approach. Tough, to say the least.

That hole drove most of us nuts, and double bogeys were more common than birdies, for sure. Par was always a great score and bogey wasn’t “bad” at all.

So, one day it hit me that if I hit 4-wood off the tee, I would have an elevated fairway look at the green from about 200-210, giving me another soft 4-wood or 3-iron to the green, and the fairway was about 40 yards wide back there. Being a good long club player, I began to play the hole that way. Doubles disappeared entirely, pars became the norm and I even made the occasional birdie. Hmm.

TWO. At my recent club, the ninth hole just didn’t fit my eye or my game. I play a fade off the tee most of the time and turning over a draw was just not reliable for me at the time. That ninth is a dogleg left, with a bunker on the right side of the fairway that runs from about 160-125 from the green, right where the prime driving area is. What makes this hole so tough for me is that the prevailing wind is left to right, and trees just 60-100 yards off the tee keep me from starting the ball out left and letting it ride the breeze. This is another one where birdies are rare for me there, and bogies and doubles way too frequent. So, it dawned on me one day, finally, that I could hit 4-wood right at that bunker and not get to it, leaving me a 5- or 6-iron into the green, rather than the short iron the rare proper drive would leave me. So, that became my new strategy on that hole. I’m a good mid-iron player, so I’m fine with that, and that damn fairway bunker never caught me again.

THREE. My new club puts a premium on accurate wedge play. Most of the shorter holes have the smallest greens I’ve ever seen, so distance control with your wedge approaches is critical. And I find that reasonably full-swing wedges are easier to control distance than those awkward 60- to 80-yard partial swings. So, I’ve learned to put a premium on club selection off the tee on those holes to leave my approach shots in the 85-115 range, so that I can “dial in” my approach shotmaking.

My point in all this is that sometimes a hole gets under your skin or just doesn’t set up well for your game. When that happens, design yourself a Plan ‘B,’ and change the way you play it, at least for a while. Quite often you will find a solution to a problem and your scores and attitude will improve.

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Mizuno T-22 wedge and Cuater Moneymaker shoes review!

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Mizuno’s new T-22 wedges are forged from the same 1025 carbon steel with boron as the irons, giving them an extremely soft feel. Very versatile, the sole grinds allow for hitting any shot your heart desires.

The Cuater Moneymaker shoes might be some of the most comfortable I have worn in years. Tons of cushioning, exceptional traction all over the course, and they are even waterproof!

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