Choosing the Right Golf Clubs
Make Sure they fit YOU!
Imagine running a marathon in your sneakers from 3rd grade or your husband’s sneakers. Or how about picking up a garage-sale pair that were manufactured around the same time Tab and Fresca left the shelves? Yes, they’re sneakers, but they probably won’t fit you. Likewise, why play golf with your husband’s clubs or a set that has been around for 30 plus years? You’ll have a hard time learning and playing the game with them because they just don’t fit you.
There are two major misconceptions about golf equipment that need to be addressed:
1) One size fits all.
2) The golf clubs know your age and gender.
Don’t limit your selection of golf clubs based on these fallacies. Each woman is different. Many don’t fit the parameters established for women’s golf clubs. Here are a few basic club variables that must be evaluated when you are searching for your perfect fit:
- GRIP – The grip is your only connection to the golf club. Selecting the right size will help you make a proper release motion through impact. For a right-handed golfer, a grip too narrow will create an early release causing a ball flight off to the left (hook) of your intended target. A grip that is too wide in diameter will make it hard to release your hands and create a ball flight to the right of your target (slice).
- LENGTH – The length of your club will also influence your ball flight. If a club is too long, it will promote a slice. If it is too short, it will promote a hook. In addition, the distance your golf ball travels can be maximized by contact with the sweet spot on your clubface (part of the club that strikes the ball) with an efficient swing motion and a properly fit club.
- LIE ANGLE – The lie angle of your club (angle of the shaft to the ground)promotes good posture that will allow you to move freely throughout the golf swing helping reduce injury and promoting maximum distance. The lie angle also influences ball flight: too upright, a slice; too flat, a hook.
- SHAFT FLEX – Shaft flexibility is determined by a golfer’s swing speed. If a shaft is not flexible enough, it will promote a lower/right ball flight. If too flexible, a higher/left ball flight.
Taking a few minutes to get fit for your golf clubs—typically less than 45 minutes—will provide you with years of satisfaction. Here is what you should expect:
- The process begins with taking a few measurements of your height and hand. These measurements will eliminate many of the club options and get you started with a club close to your personal needs.
- Now you are ready to take a few swings. With the help of a) impact tape and b) a swing speed measuring device, more information can be gathered:
a.) Impact tape is placed on the clubface and sole of the club (part of the club that rests on the ground). When you take a shot, a mark on the club face will indicate if the club is the proper length for you. The mark on the sole of the club will indicate if the club is the proper lie angle for you.
b.) Once the proper club fit is determined, a swing speed measuring device is set up to record your average swing and determine the appropriate shaft flexibility you need.
- Now determine exactly what clubs you need. I often advise new students that starting with a few clubs that fit you will encourage clarity to build a successful golf swing versus buying a bunch of clubs that do not fit you and confuse you. The rules of golf allow a golfer to carry 14 clubs during a round of golf, however, less is more when you are beginning.
There are many club manufacturers, so check with your Pro to be sure the brand you select offers these fitting options. Personally, I am a certified PING Club fitter and know the PING Company provides all of these options.
When selecting your clubs here are a few other facts to consider:
- A manufacturer allows for the purchase of specific clubs that match your specifications and can match your set later if you decide to purchase additional clubs.
- Stay away from eBay or other online trade sites unless you are absolutely sure the club they are offering meets all of your specifications.
- A seven club set is a great starter set and would consist of a putter, sand wedge, 9 and 7 iron, hybrid, fairway wood and driver. This can be altered as needed and should be discussed with your LPGA or PGA Pro to help you decide what is best for you at this point of your game.
- Grip Style includes the texture and color of your golf grips. You should like the way the grip feels in your hand and like how it looks. Pick your favorite color to inspire you.
Club fitting is also appropriate for your children. Most junior clubs are offered by age range but children of the same age can vary significantly in height. US Kids Golf has a club fitting system for children that offers a variety of shaft lengths; the grip sizes are proportional for children, and the clubs come in two different flexes. Explore https://www.uskidsgolf.com/shop/ for tips on buying your kids their first clubs.
Karen Bukowski is the Head Golf Professional at Harbor Ridge Golf Club in Erie, Pennsylvania. She is a Class “A” Member of LPGA International & the PGA of America. Karen is a US Kids Golf Top 50 Instructor. She has a holistic teaching philosophy and believes golf instruction must match the student’s individual needs. Karen provides instruction to first time golfers as well as advanced players. She believes golf is a game for a life time and should be enjoyed by all. For more information visit her website at www.karengolf.com.