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Learning Golf- The Seven Fundamentals

Fundamental 4: Equipment that Fits You

by Dr. Ron Cruickshank

After many years of teaching people the game of golf, we have found that it is best to start by presenting the  Seven Fundamentals which must be learned and mastered to play the game well. This article will focus on Fundamental 4 – Have Equipment That Fits You

Fundamental 4 Have Equipment That Fits You

Like all sports, golf has specific equipment to play the game. Generally, this includes 14 clubs ranging from a putter to a driver. There are a vast selection of manufacturers and types of clubs. What they ALL have in common is the need to properly fit you and your swing. The most expensive clubs are of little use if improperly fit and WILL cause mishits.

There are 6 areas we look to fit clubs to your swing. These are critical to all types of swings and styles. The six areas are:  Length, lie angle, shaft flex, grip size, loft and set make up.

  1. LENGTH – The proper length of a golf club for your golf swing is critical.  Length of the club is determined by comparing your height to your arm length (wrist to floor measurement).   Having the proper length for you for each iron, driver, fairway woods, etc., will allow you to stand the proper distance from the ball with the proper spine tilt (bend at waist). This is absolutely one of the key factors to getting the club on the proper plane – your club lengths must be individualized and optimal for you and your single plane swing.
  1. LIE ANGLE – The proper lie angle is as critical, if not more, then length.  The lie angle is also determined by your height vs. arm length.  When set up in the proper single plane swing position, the leading edge of the club should be FLAT to the ground for you.  As the set up position mirrors the impact position, the lie angle should allow the leading edge of the club to be flat to the ground at set up and impact.
  1. SHAFT FLEX – The proper shaft flex is critical for proper ball flight.  Shaft flex can range from Ladies flex to Extra Stiff flex (with up to 17 flexes (graphite) in between).  The more flexible the shaft flex, the higher the ball will fly.  The slower a golfer swings their clubs, the more flexibility (flexible) they need in a shaft. Too many golfers hit shafts that are too stiff for them, causing them to try and “lift” their golf shots for added height the shaft is not giving them.  This “lifting” causes many problems in the golf swing (casting, over the top, topping the ball, etc. etc..).  All because of improper shafting
  2. GRIP SIZE – The proper grip size will allow you to maximize the release of the club and give you maximum distance with this release.  Grip size is determined by your hand size and the measurement from the crease at the top of your wrist to the end of your middle finger.  Proper grip size allows you to grip the club with “minimal” pressure, enough to keep the club from slipping in the hands, by not too tight causing too much tension in the hands, wrists and forearms which will dramatically reduce leverage angles through impact which will hinder distance and consistency.
  3. LOFT – Industry average has a 4* separation in loft between the irons / clubs in a set.  This and the length of the club, are what give the golf clubs different distances when you hit them.  On average (for the average golfer), with proper length and loft, there is around a 10 yard separation between clubs (ex. you hit 9 iron 110 yards, you will hit 8 iron 120 yards, etc.)   This is an average.

Loft becomes a big factor in the fitting process in three different areas:

* Driver – it is absolutely necessary to get the proper loft on your driver to give you maximum flight and roll of your driver.  The biggest factor determining what loft you need is your swing speed (listed above how calculated, etc..).  Too much loft will lead to hitting too high and minimal roll, too little loft will lead to lose in flight distance.  Too much or too little loft will cause loss of distance with your driver.

* Hybrids / Rescue Clubs / Utility Clubs – these clubs are long iron replacements.  They have the needed loft and wider sole (than equivalent iron) that will allow golfers to hit the longer clubs (less lofted clubs) in their bag with the needed height and distance to be able to hold greens, etc..   Average golfers, hitting their 6 iron 150 to 160 yards should hit a 3, 4 and 5 hybrids (not long irons) to give them the optimal flight and ability to hold greens with the longer clubs.  All golfers need to have their club (set make up) set to their game.

* Wedges – loft of wedges need to be set to maximize an individual’s short game.  There should not be uneven gaps in loft between the different wedges.  Meaning – if you carry 3 wedges (Pitching, Sand and Lob)  – maybe a 6* gap between wedges.  If you carry 4 wedges (Pitch, gap, sand, lob) – 4* separation, etc..  Optimal scoring in golf is set up with the short game.  The short game is optimized with even gaps

.6.  Set Make Up  – The proper set make up is individualized for each golfer.  It is recommended according to individual’s:

* Swing Speed (distance they hit clubs)

* Divot pattern (Divot / No Divot) – Less divot, wider sole club recommended

* Golfer’s physical condition (injuries vs. body problems, etc…  Examples – arthritis, chronic back

problems, etc..)

* Need for “feel” in the clubs vs. “forgiveness” in the clubs (or combination)

* General golf ability (new golfers vs. experienced golfers)

* Others (there are other factors we consider when recommending clubs – (for example – young golfers – how much will they grow, etc..)

These are the 6 main areas we focus on when we fit a set of clubs to an individual’s golf game. Paying attention to proper fitting will help you develop a sound golf game.

If you wish to become good at the game, simply adopt these Fundamentals as a roadmap to your learning process. It will guide your introduction to golf and you will soon begin to improve.

The Seven Foundations of Learning Golf: An Overview

Foundation 1 Become a Consistent Ball Striker

Foundation 2 Perfect your Short Game

Foundation 3 Become a Good Putter

Foundation 4 Have Clubs that FIT your body, swing and game

Foundation 5 Become Confident at Course Management Skills

Foundation 6 Practice with Purpose

Foundation 7 Learn to Manage Your Mind and Emotions on the Course