Custom Fitting your Golf Clubs

The ideal length of a golf club for a particular person is dictated not necessarily by their height but by the distance from their wrists to the ground. For example, a tall man may have very long arms and be therefore better suited to standard-length clubs. This can apply in reverse, a prominent example being Tour pro, Ian Woosnam, who plays longer than standard irons.

1 iron : 39.75 inches
2 iron : 39.25
3 iron : 38.75
4 iron : 38.25
5 iron : 37.75
6 iron : 37.25
7 iron : 36.75
8 iron : 36.25
9 iron : 35.75
PW : 35.25
SW : 35.25
LW : 35.25

It is possible for manufacturers to make clubs more or less lofted (tour lofting). This will produce, in the case of de-lofted irons a lower ball flight and a slight increase in distance. However, less loft means the possibility of increased side spin for shots hit with an open or closed clubface leading to less accuracy. Most players would be well advised to leave lofts at the standard value.

Typical lofts for irons are :
1 iron : 15 – 16 degrees
2 iron : 18 – 20 degrees
3 iron : 21 – 23 degrees
4 iron : 24 – 25 degrees
5 iron : 27 – 28 degrees
6 iron : 31 – 32 degrees
7 iron : 35 – 36 degrees
8 iron : 37 – 39 degrees
9 iron : 41 – 43 degrees
PW : 46 – 48 degrees
SW : 55 – 58 degrees
LW : 60 – 64 degrees

When having the lie of a club custom fitted it is essential that the fitter measures the position of the club head at impact. There are those who ask for your height and then say two degrees upright or whatever – the lie at address can often bear little resemblance to how it is at the crucial point of impact. The idea of checking the lie is to make sure the club is completely flat on the ground at impact.

The shaft will move during the course of the swing and will flex downwards towards impact. The pro should position tape on the sole of the club which will rub on an impact board as it is struck during the swing. Marks on the tape towards the toe of the club suggest an upright club to varying degrees, to the heel means a flatter lie and central shots a standard lie. The wrong lie can affect the shots players produce. For example, if a player should be three degrees upright but plays standard clubs, then the toe can hit the ground first and cause the club to twist. This will lose the player distance and direction.

The correct size grip is another important aspect. A grip too large for the player may limit hand action and cause the player to lose the ball to the right. Too small a grip will do the opposite, increase hand action and the player may lose it to the left. Both may well affect the quality of the strike. For the amateur, small differentials will not noticeably affect performance, but just make sure the grips on the clubs you like feel comfortable in your hands.

In its most simple terms the correct shaft for you depends upon your swing speed through the ball. The fitter should measure this speed and then recommend a regular or stiff shaft accordingly. Shafts are thought by many pros to be more important than the head of a golf club and so we go into more detail in this section.

Modern shafts come in two basic categories – steel and graphite. Contrary to popular belief good quality graphite is not more “whippy” than its steel counterpart of the same flex. The difference is that graphite is about 30% lighter than steel, which may or may not suit a particular player. When choosing a new set, a good idea is to start by hitting shots with a golf club of the same model in both steel and graphite. To most people the different feel will be evident. Go for what feels better to you, and gives the most consistent shotmaking. When first introduced, graphite was seen as a material to increase flex for older golfers. Nowadays it is very much a matter of personal choice – look at some leading players such as Phil Mickelson and Scott Verplank.

The flex of shaft a person chooses for their golf clubs is absolutely paramount to the way the clubs will perform for them.
Guidelines for flex in graphite irons and woods are that a swing speed of –
70 – 80 mph requires a senior flex ( M -70 )
80 – 90 mph requires a regular flex ( R – 80 )
90 – 100mph requires a stiff flex (S – 90 )
100 mph + requires a tour flex (X – 100 )

Guidelines for the flex of steel irons and woods are –
Regular flex R – 100 ranging to R – 500 ( 500 being stiffer )
Stiff flex S – 100 ranging to S – 500
Tour stiff flex X – 100 and above.

As a general rule players with smooth swing speeds may benefit from a lighter shaft whilst those who have faster swings may prefer heavier options.
Finding the correct shaft will give the player the maximum chance of playing to the potential of his / her clubs. If a player does have the wrong shafts then a mass of poor shots can result. For instance a strong player using clubs with regular shafts may well find they flex too much causing the toe to fall and twist resulting in a pull or hook. Conversely a player using shafts that are too stiff for their swing speed may well find the ball goes off to the right with a low ball flight. In both cases, loss of distance will result.

The torque in a shaft can be described as the amount of degrees the shaft will deflect upon impact – particularly off centre shots. Subsequently shafts with lower torque are thought to be higher performance and more forgiving. Torque in high quality shafts should be less than 5 degrees. Many manufacturers believe that as in shaft flex, stronger players will benefit from less torque but higher handicappers may benefit from slightly more movement as this will help to get the ball airborne.

Fat Shafts
Designed by Wilson Golf the fatshaft irons are designed to keep torque to a minimum. Some people find the extra width in the shafts make them feel rather cumbersome but if a player does like the feel of them then they will limit twist and therefore increase accuracy.

Swing Weight
This is described as how heavy the club will feel when it is actually swung, rather than the actual physical weight of the club. A swing weight can be altered by the redistribution of weight in either the head or the shaft.