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Mon, Oct. 14

Gunby: How to pick out the best golf equipment for your game
Tee It Up

I think we all can agree that we play golf because it is a challenge and a never-ending quest for some common goals. Some of the common goals that I hear a lot from students is that they want to be consistent, hit the ball farther, improve their accuracy, and have fun.

One factor that is important to achieving these goals is using golf equipment that we like and feel comfortable using and that is matched to our physical capabilities. If the equipment doesn’t fit, it will limit how much success is obtainable.

Too often I see a tall guy with huge hands and short arms with a new set of golf clubs bought at a big box store. He wants to start playing golf. We can suggest some fundamentals but there is no way he can achieve any consistency or good accuracy or distance with a “standard” set of clubs.

Grip size is probably the easiest factor to measure and change. The best way to measure this is have the player hold their finish position and check their lead hand (left hand for right-handed players). The fingertips of their hand should just touch their palm. If they dig in, the grip is probably too small. Too large of a grip inhibits the forearm rotation and lead to slices or blocked shots. Too small of a grip leads to over rotation of the forearms and the likelihood of more hooked shots.

The next variable that is very important and can be measured easily is the lie of the club. The lie affects the starting direction of the ball off the clubface. The proper way to measure the lie is with a dynamic fitting, hitting a ball off a lie board. Just viewing the club at address position is not accurate, unless you are fitting a putter, as the angle of the sole of the club changes at impact.

Ideally, the middle of the sole of the club should contact the lie board (ground). If a club is too upright, the sole will contact the board towards the heel of the club. This will cause the ball to launch towards the left (for right-handed players). If a club is too flat, the sole will contact the board towards the toe of the club. This will cause the ball to launch towards the right. The more loft of the club, the more the lie of the club will affect the starting launch angle. Note that we can measurably correct a slice by making the club more upright, but for less-lofted clubs, such as a driver, only a corrected swing fault will help. Let me add a cautionary “but” to this; making a club more upright to correct a slice can lead to several problems dealing with Uphill/Downhill/Sidehill lies, and these types of “fixes” are only bandages, to the swing, and are not as good a fix as taking a lesson.

The problem with our modern investment cast golf clubs is that there is very little room to adjust the lie without breaking the club. We find many inexpensive clubs to have large tolerances and variables in the lives of their clubs, as well as the swing weight, overall weight, shaft flexes, lofts, etc. So be aware.

I know enough about club fitting and have limited tools to be dangerous. There are so many things that go into club fitting that I leave that to the experts.

We are fortunate to have a very good custom club fitter in our area, Ken Christopherson. He has the tools, expertise and equipment to measure, recommend specs and build custom clubs. And there are many good manufacturer certified fitters near us. If interested in getting fitted, I would be glad to recommend some resources.

John Gunby Sr. is a columnist for The Daily Courier. Reach him by email at sportsdesk@prescottaz.com.

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