A Game Improvement Q & A
by Mike Bednarcik
Custom Clubs of Frederick
4 Time Maryland Clubmaker of the Year
Certified Class A Clubmaker – The Professional Clubmakers Society
Advanced Professional Clubmaker – The Golf Clubmakers Association
Has the High-tech era passed you by? Are your clubs more than 5-10 years old? If that’s the case, it might be time to take a look at some new clubs – or at least look at updating or upgrading what you currently have. Today’s models are longer, lighter, larger and more forgiving then even clubs from 5 years ago. There are more options with the new Hybrid clubs. If you answer yes to a few of the following questions then it might just be time to go club – or club upgrade – shopping.
1. Are you the shortest hitter in your foursome?
If so, take a look at your driver. Today’s drivers are longer and lighter and offer more potential for greater distances. The shafts are lighter which allow the clubs to be made longer. With longer and lighter shafts there is a potential for greater club head speed and therefore longer tee shots.
Over 60% of all drivers today are made from some sort of Titanium. Titanium is a very strong yet lightweight material that allows the club head to be made larger and more forgiving on off center hits. Larger clubheads increase the “sweet spot” by twisting less on off center hits. A club that twists less when hit on the toe or heel means the club has a high MOI or moment of inertia. This is a good thing. Less twisting results in straighter shots on off center hits. We can all use this.
How about your irons? An easy fix to add a few yards to your current set is to have the lofts adjusted 1-2 degrees stronger. One degree usually will lead to an increase of 3-4 yards. If you go more than 2 degrees strong, you may adversely affect the performance of the club by creating a negative bounce condition, which will result in hitting more shots fatter. This we don’t want. A qualified clubfitter will be able to mesure and adjust your clubs to get the most out of them.
2. Do you always hit the ball to the right or left?
If so, the next time you’re on the range, take a look at where most of your shots go and the flight pattern. With your irons, if you feel as though you are hitting the ball solid yet your shot consistently goes a little right or left of the target (especially with the short irons), it could be that your lie angles are incorrect. If your irons are too upright for your swing, you will tend to pull the ball. If your irons are too flat, you will have the tendency to push the ball. If you think this is a problem you should have your lie angle tested and then have the irons measured and adjusted if necessary.
How about your driver? If you tend to slice or hook a majority of your shots then the club’s face angle may not match your swing. If you slice (like most of us), your clubface is probably open at impact. A more closed clubface (1-2 degrees closed) will help square your face at impact and improve your accuracy. The converse is also true. If you always hook the ball, then you should look at a clubface angle with a more open face.
3. Are you uncomfortable at address? Do you have to hunch over or stand too upright?
If so, either the lie angle or length of your clubs may be incorrect for you. A club’s length is an important element in how a player stands at address. Any unnatural posture or set up at address usually results in inconsistent swings and poor results. A club that is too long may lead to hitting behind the ball a lot (fat shots). If the clubs are too short you may be topping the ball.
Another important element is making sure the lie angle is correct. If the lie angle of the club is too upright, a player may have to raise his/her hands at address. This may feel very awkward or unnatural and usually leads to inconsistent swings or at best a bad or negative feeling to start the swing off with. It is very unlikely for that player to deliver the club at impact in that same position. If the club is too flat, the player’s hands will be too low, again a difficult position to match at impact. Therefore, if you feel as though you have to unnaturally adjust your hands at address to make your club look or feel “right”, chances are your clubs have either a length and/or lie that are not matched to your swing.
4. Do you hit the ball unusually high or low?
Watch the height and trajectory of your tee shots and compare them with your playing partners. If there is a big difference either high or low, the loft of your driver may need to be changed. If you hit the ball too high, the ball will balloon up in the air, reach its peak early and drop to the ground with little or no roll, usually at the cost of distance. If you hit the ball too low, the ball will not generate enough lift (backspin) and therefore the ball will reach its apex early as well and drop to the ground. This tee shot will, however, roll a lot but you are still not getting the most out of your drives. A driver with a low loft creates a lot of sidespin (slice-spin), which is the precursor to a slice. In order to maximize your driver distance you need to create more backspin to counteract the sidespin.
If you have trouble hitting your driver, do you hit your 3 wood well? If so, it is most likely due to the fact that is has more loft (usually 13-15 degrees), which is creating more backspin and less sidespin. This increases the likelihood of hitting the ball straight. By going to a driver with more loft you will add more backspin to your tee shots which will help straighten them out.
By utilizing a launch monitor like the Golf Achiever, we can determine the optimum launch angle for your swing and recommend the appropriate loft, length and shaft flex. Come in for a fitting on my launch monitor to determine what driver loft will work best for you.