Club Length and Fitting Tips
I’ve had a few questions about club length, and I see golfers weekly that are being fitted long and upright. I sound off all the time about this in private, but it’s time to address this subject to my readers. I’d like to share my observations and thoughts on the subject and then have all of you sound off with your personal experiences or input.
When “custom fitting” became de rigueur about 10-12 years ago, the method was (and still is) to rely mainly on a lie board and fit the golfer with length and lie angle that gave him or her “flush” impact.
I have a couple of problems with that approach.
First, if you put a board on the turf and tell me I have to hit it, subconsciously I’m going to make a more downward blow to the ball than normal, and this has to skew the results of the testing to more upright.
Secondly, and more importantly, most golfers are stuck in the mid- to high-handicap range because their hands get too elevated and far from the body through impact. I’ve written about this before.
The key to good shotmaking and optimum distance with every club in the bag is to create an address position where the arms (the left arm in particular) are hanging naturally from the shoulder – then to “cover” that same position through the impact zone. Almost every golfer I observe begins with their arms extended so that the arms and club form an almost straight line from the shoulders to the ball, then they repeat that position through impact. You just cannot get to quality ball striking from that position.
As a result, we are seeing golfers being fitted long and upright to facilitate this poor technique. All the fitter is doing is trapping the golfer into this position at impact forever.
Now, I realize that there are many golfers whose games have improved after such a fitting – but to what level (I’m sure you'll all tell me, right !?). And did you then hit another plateau where improvement stopped again ?
Here’s a drill for you just for fun and learning.
Take your 6-iron and set it behind a ball in your living room or den. Make sure the club is soled flush to the floor.
Now, holding it in that position with your right hand, assume your address position and posture, and let your left arm hang naturally from your shoulders. It should be about 4-5 inches off your left thigh. Get comfortable. As you move into the club, note the relationship between your left hand and the top half of the grip – were they close to the same spot ? Or was the grip much higher than this “natural” position of the left hand ?
Think about it this way. If your goal in the swing is to allow the left hand to come right back to this natural position, it will take much less manipulation and training than if your swing is trying to re-direct the left hand to a “manufactured” position that is unnaturally high and far from the body.
I know I can’t give complete golf lessons here, but my goal is to always help you get to a more natural way to strike the ball consistently and properly. I hope I’m making progress in that regard – please let me know if I’m not.
And let me know what other things you’d like me to speak out about by using the ASK TERRY button in the right-hand sidebar.
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Good points Terry.
The other problem is that when testing the lie on a club, a person (consciously or unconsciously) matches their set up and swing to the lie of the club as it is already (i.e. if it is too upright, you'll change your set up so the toe is not pointing way up in the air even if that is how you would like to set up ideally). So you still may not be getting the right lie after testing.
I think the best way to do it is to start with a lie that looks and feels right before you even take a swing (I guess having a set of 7 irons set at various lies might be a good way to do this). And then adjust the lie of your club to that lie and only then further adjust the lie to compensate your swing.
I'm a 22 year old golfer and have never had clubs fit for me but I have alway felt that my setup should have been in this natural hanging position. That's how it is when I putt why shouldn't my hands be near that same position in my golf swing. I'll have to go to a club fitter and see if I can get this remedied before I groove my swing to this unnatural position.
Agree completely w your assessment of poor fitting. I couldn't get my wedges "soft" until I brought the ball closer (hanging arms) and changed my swing to where it felt outside/in, in an open stance.... Turns out the alignment and swing path were fairly straight/upright... I had just been reaching out too far before. Thanks Much. "Flopping and Stopping in MO"
Looks like I struck a nerve a bit here. Thanks for the comments. Duffy, you are right that we'll try to adjust to the club we have, but our bodies cannot do that with any consistency at all. Much better to fit your "natural" swing. For Brandon, you are right on target. Keep in as natural as possible and the game will come easier. And cfboss is on to something eye-opening with his revelation about having the hands closer.
William Marshall says:
Good point. I was put in a "hanging arms" positions many years ago by a fine teaching pro. It was a surprise to me at a recent "ten minute lesson" that the new assistant pro commented that my hands were "too low" and I needed to get my hands higher at address. I do see pros who have a pronation in the wrists at address which puts the grip into the fingers more than a lower wrist which is more of a "baseball" or "axehandle" grip. I guess this is what he saw. I have worked to get more finger vs palm contact the club but such a small move is a big change in feel. Your thoughts and sugguestion with the six iron check helped me visualize the move better. Thanks.
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