Hireko Golf’s Technical Director Jeff Summitt Discusses Getting Fit For A Golf Driver
Golfers today have much more luxury when it comes to golf driver fitting. Name brand manufacturers have somewhat simplified the process by using adapter systems, which can interchange various gripped golf shafts that can screwed onto driver heads of various lofts, and the customer can see and feel the interactions whether hitting into a net or outdoors out on the range. With advancement with technology, computer software can simulate the results and provide detailed analysis on which driver/shaft combination produces the best result.
Golf clubmakers have these same capabilities of interchanging heads and shafts as the major manufacturers with the advent of adapter systems such as Hireko’s QuikFit system. However, the independent club fitter can offer much more variety of components that is seen in an array of OEM fitting carts, but in some of the other fitting parameters as well.
Length, golf shaft and overall weight
When using gripped shafts on an adapter, the fitter should set up their demos in a strategic manner. First, there should be no duplication of shafts (same weight, flex, trajectory and torque). By varying the weight of the golf shaft, it will vary the overall weight too in order to see if distance can be improved without sacrificing accuracy. While the shaft weight varies, so too will swingweight. The fitter has to decide if they want to maintain a standard length and adjust the swingweight when building their demos or varying the length slightly and adding another element to their fitting – length fitting.
The fitter can use the player’s swing speed as a baseline in deciding which shaft to start with, but allow the player to hit golf balls with shafts that are a little stiffer or softer as well as heavier or lighter to see what performs best. This is called performance based fitting as not all golfers with the same swing speed need the exact same flex due to their tempo and release point in the swing.
Golf Clubhead selection
Most golf club drivers today are the maximum allowable size (460cc). However they do come in all sorts of shapes and specifications such as loft (for trajectory), face angle (for accuracy) or special features (like offset). Even if the clubfitting is only using one loft to fit, they have a baseline. For example, if the head is 10.5º and the player hits the ball a little on the low side, they could suggest the same head in the next available golf clubhead loft as manufacturers will routinely offer driver heads in multiple lofts. This is where launch monitors come in handy to provide more accurate data than what is possible with naked eye as the correct loft will help optimize launch angle, spin and ultimately distance.
The shape of the head is important as well because the center of gravity usually follow the geometry. That is a deeper faced club will have a higher center of gravity and launch the ball lower with all else being the same. The manufacturer may have a model where from heel-to-toe is a little shorter or added internal weight toward the hosel to help close the face at impact.
Just like certain heads can hit the ball higher or help close the face, shafts can too. This is where it is important to be able to pair the two with an golf interchangeable adapter system and allow the customer to be able hit the ball and watch or measure ball flight. This takes the guess work out and assures the customer they are being fit correctly.
For stronger golfers, face angle will be more critical because any error is magnified. Remember, there are tolerances will all components and a customer might wonder if what they were fit for will be the exact same as the final product they purchase. The clubmaker should be able to measure their demo clubs and sort through their inventory. They can use the tolerances to their advantage by picking the head with a lower or higher loft or more closed or open face angle so account for the tendency the golfer has the most.
Chances are the grips on any demo driver or gripped shafts on some sort of adapter system will be standard size. Golfers with larger or smaller hands or those that prefer to hold the club in the palm rather than the fingers may prefer a different size. This is where holding onto grips from a display can help find a grip that is comfortable from both a texture and size standpoint.
The player could use the same style grip and size as they have on their irons – assuming they were fit for them previously. But most golfers really haven’t been introduced to something other than standard and may be surprised by the results of a right-sized grip.
Weight distribution and final adjustments
If the fitting is using some sort of an interchangeable club head and shaft system, the fitter can add smaller amounts of weight (i.e. lead foil tape) to the driver head to fine tune swingweight. If the demo clubs have holes cut into the butt ends of grip, the fitter can use a counterweighting system to see if alternative weighting may stimulate a difference in the comfort level and performance at the given length and shaft weight one was fit for. It should only take a few swings by the golfer to see if counterweighting has any positive response. If not, it can be ruled out and at least the customer had experimented with something few golfers ever do. For habitual slicers, I would strongly encourage them to consider this.
Golf Driver Summary
The total time to be fit for a driver will vary depending on how involved you want to get or just how poorly the golfer was fit before. It may be as simple as a new style grip and size or an alteration of length to an existing driver. On the other hand you might have a customer with a unique set of challenges that you have to go through every aspect of the fitting until you settle on what will help them perform their best off of the tee.
This is just a small amount information you will find in our upcoming clubfitting book.