By Eric Hambleton
One of the very interesting aspects of working with golfers of all abilities, shapes, and sizes, is the overarching tendency of golfers to want to talk about looks, feel, or a favorite brand of clubs. Walk down any driving range in the beautiful Northwest, and I guarantee you, it won’t be long before you hear two buddies talking about how good a club looks, or how incredible it feels, or proudly stating he is an (insert company here) guy. We all have our own preferences for how a golf club should look and feel, or who makes it, but what if that club doesn’t perform for you?
First, what makes a club feel good? The largest influencing factor on how we perceive the feel of a golf club is sound. Numerous tests have been done over the years, and in the absence of the sound of impact, players struggle to differentiate between different clubs, and even between good and bad shots. Most of the major golf equipment companies now have NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) departments, focusing on creating unique sound signatures for each segment of the golfing population. Better player clubs typically have a muted “thwack” sound, a noise preferred by most low handicap players. Game improvement clubs, usually feature a more aggressive, almost wood like sound, as higher handicaps tend to associate this with a well struck shot. This is where the advancement of launch monitors has played such a crucial role in club fitting, by being able to quantify a good or bad shot beyond what a player heard and attributed to “feel.”
Next, the tenuous topic of looks. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what makes a club look good? We can all agree that the obvious factors, such as top line, offset, and color play a major role. But did you know that golf club companies will adjust groove geometry to make an iron appear larger or smaller? Or modify crown curvature to make a driver look like it’s the size of a mailbox? Looks are a personal topic, however it is imperative to allow an expert to recommend you try a variety of options, even if they may not draw your eye immediately. After all, what is better looking than smaller numbers on your scorecard?
Finally, brand preference. We are incredibly lucky to have so many great products, from so many incredible companies. However, so many golfers pigeonhole themselves into one manufacturer for most, if not all of their clubs. Are they sponsored by them? No, they liked one club, and bought the rest to fill in. More often than not, when a golfer is properly fit, their golf bag will have clubs from multiple manufacturers, simply because each individual club worked best for them. So unless you reading this and cashing checks from a golf manufacturer, do yourself a favor, go into your next fitting session with an open mind, and go with what works, not the name on the back.
To put aside feel, looks, and loyalty, consult your nearest Golf Digest Top 100 Fitter (http://www.golfdigest.com/story/clubfitter-directory-americas-best-clubfitters) and do yourself a favor with lower scores.