Previous installments of the Connected Golfer have focused on technologies and devices that let players gather information as they practice and play. We have also covered the growing popularity of virtual lessons and how technology allows students and instructors to stay in touch between lessons. Now we explore how advancements in club-fitting technologies, along with data collected by players and coaches, can help golfers at every level hit the ball farther and straighter with more consistency…
On a snowy Sunday in January 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses across the United States to lock their doors, Nathan DeBerry, 35, opened one at Club Champion’s store in Willowbrook, Illinois. Stomping the slush off his feet and standing about 6 feet 3 inches tall, he had the lanky frame of someone who could be good at almost any sport. Having played golf for about eight years, he hit balls at a local range twice a week, when the Chicago-area weather allowed, and scored in the high-90s when he played.
After warming up and hitting several shots with a driver he bought at a large chain store, his fitter, Brad Syslo, could hardly contain himself. The TrackMan launch monitor was confirming what Syslo’s eyes told him. DeBerry had loads of clubhead speed (109 miles per hour), but he only averaged 228 yards of carry distance. Getting this guy into the right gear could produce some massive improvements.
Using technologies and tools found at many reputable fitting facilities, DeBerry’s ball speed increased 17 miles per hour within 60 minutes. His shots started to fly straighter too, and he gained 47 yards of carry distance. Forty-seven!
To be fair, a seismic improvement like that is rare, but it’s safe to say that the fitting was game-changing for DeBerry. Literally.
The right tools make all the difference
Imagine that you went into a clothing store and wanted to buy a blue shirt. Finding a wall of blue shirts with no labels on them, you grab one off the rack that looks nice, walk to the cashier and drop it on the counter. You don’t know the size, how it will fit when you try it on and you don’t if you’re getting a bargain or if you are being ripped off.
For decades, buying golf clubs was similar to this type of experience. Golfers went to a store, looked at clubs on the pro shop wall, and then maybe set one on the carpet and looked at it in the address position. Happy, they grabbed the driver or the set of irons, plunked down their money and happily walked out the door, hoping the new gear would lower their scores. Were the new clubs ideally-suited to their swing? Did they get a good deal on the price? Who knows?
Savvy golfers know there is a better way: custom fitting. Long associated with elite golfers and tour pros, there are many custom–fitting levels, and all of them can even help beginners and high-handicap players.
In 1972, Ping developed a color-coded system based on static measurements to determine the player’s ideal lie angle. Today, Ping, Callaway, TaylorMade, Titleist and other brands run demo days at local facilities and custom-fit golfers for their latest offers. Retail stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods and PGA Tour Superstores often allow players to try clubs from different manufacturers, often with various shafts, to see which performs better for them.
However, at the top of the ladder are brand-agnostic fitting centers like Club Champion, Cool Clubs, Hot Stix and many local club fitting shops around the country. At facilities like this, the sales associates and fitters are often PGA of America professionals. They are continuously trained on new clubs, shafts, grips and club-building techniques. In almost every case, they are brand agnostic and invest in the latest technologies to help fit golfers more effectively.
The most powerful tool a fitter can use to help players find the ideal combination of heads, shafts and golf balls is a launch monitor like TrackMan. It uses a pair of Doppler radar arrays to not only capture data about a shot (even one hit indoors), but also acquire data about the clubhead as it goes through the impact zone. It can show things like ball speed, launch angle, spin rate, curvature, the angle of descent and more. It can also show the clubhead’s path, reveal whether the face was open, closed or square at the moment of impact and whether the club was swinging up or down as it approached the ball. A trained fitter can often see some of these things, but launch monitors like TrackMan quantify them and make direct, apples-to-apples comparisons possible.
Most drivers, fairway woods and hybrids sold today have adjustable hosels, but many club-fitting companies install universal adaptors on the heads and shafts they use for fittings. This means they can quickly attach any head to any shaft, regardless of the brands, which lets players test more combinations in less time.
Strangely, while golfers use their putter more than any other club, few recreational players get custom-fit for their putter. Fitters can use a machine developed by Science and Motion called a SAM PuttLab to reveal things like face angle at address and at impact, tempo, the impact spot and the face angle relative to the path.
Most golfers rarely, if ever, swap out all 14 clubs in their bag at once and buy a whole new set. Instead, they purchase new wedges when the grooves in their old wedges wear out, look for a new driver when they feel they are not getting the distance they should and shop for a new set of irons every four or five years. However, being a Connected Golfer can help a player make smarter purchasing decisions and prioritize equipment needs.
For instance, shot-tracking systems like Arccos and Shot Scope provide strokes-gained statistics that can reveal a golfer’s weakness. If driving is a player’s biggest shortcoming, and his or her shot-tracking system shows most misses are going left, sharing that information with a fitter can be hugely beneficial. It also prioritizes a golfer’s most significant shortcoming.
Similarly, if a shot-tracking system reveals that a player’s strokes gained approach the green stats are poor, the fitter can ensure distance gaps between each iron are consistent. He or she may also recommend a shaft that gets the ball to fly higher, so it lands more vertically and stops faster on the greens.
Showing a fitter your recorded swings on a system like V1, FlightScope or Rapsodo, along with the drills your instructor wants you to practice, can also help the fitter get a better picture of your game and where it is going. That can help the fitter ensure that your new gear not only fits you today, but also will help you in the future.
So, whether you are trying to contend at your club championship or are hoping that 2021 is the year that you break 100, working with a good club fitter and utilizing the information you can gather as you practice and take lessons is going to make things easier.
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/05/13/equipment-connected-golfer-club-fitting-arccos-trackman/