5 Tips for Getting More Out of Your Equipment
Terry "The Wedge Guy" Koehler is in Las Vegas today teaching a group of 150+ LPGA teaching professionals. Since he's out of pocket, he asked us to re-post one his old columns. This was originally posted September 4, 2009. Enjoy!

As you might imagine, I get many emails from golfers asking all kinds of questions about their equipment. These range from set make-up to shafts, to fitting specifications to ... well, you can just about name it. Compared to just about any other sport or activity you can get into, golf does have a mind-numbing array of things to learn and understand, doesn't it? Rules and etiquette alone can boggle the mind, but let's stay focused on the equipment for today. I want to sound off with some thoughts I have, and then ask all of you to chime in with your ideas and opinions, OK?
  1. Do you really need a full set? I think a great number of golfers are doing themselves a dis-service by carrying a full complement of 14 clubs. When I was just starting out at about 6 years old, I had a 2-wood, 3 iron, 7 iron and putter. What more did I need on that little 9-hole golf course? I could get close to the green with 3-4 shots with the 2-wood and 3-iron and then chip and putt to finish it off. Worked fine as I remember. Then I graduated to a set that had a driver and 3 wood, and 3-5-7-9 irons and putter. That took me all the way to consistently shooting in the low 40s for nine holes.

    The key is that until I could hit the ball far enough to experience a 10-yard gap between irons, then I didn't need them all. And that applies to many golfers today, particularly women, seniors and juniors that don't hit it all that far. If you fall into one of those categories, might I suggest you take out about half of your clubs and go play a few rounds. Remove the odd or even numbered clubs and see what happens. I think you'll find, at the very least, it makes the game simpler, and at the best, lowers your scores by reducing your confusion.

  2. Do you really need a driver? It's the very hardest club to master without a doubt, and my experience is that too many golfers really can't handle a club of that length with that low of loft. Check your testosterone at the door, please, and honestly answer this question, "Is your driver one of your most consistent clubs?" If not, then play a few rounds hitting your 3-wood off the tee and see what happens. Even the tour pros drop back to the 3-wood from the tee when the hole before them really, really requires a shot in the fairway to score. If you want even more proof of what your driver might be costing you, play a few afternoon rounds and hit two tee shots on each hole, one with your driver and one with your 3-wood. Keep track of how many times your 3-wood set you up for a better approach to the green, even if it might be a little further back. Oh, and I'll share something with you from the golf club tech side – if you don't hit driver longer than 200 yards, you probably will actually get more distance from your 3-wood on the average. It will optimize your carry distance.

  3. Do you really 'know' your irons? If you've bought a new set of 'high tech' irons in the last few years, chances are that you are playing a set with jacked up lofts, so that you no longer really have a pitching wedge. The iron manufacturers have been altering lofts and lengths so that they can advertise their clubs are longer than the competition. But if your new set has been "re-numbered", so that the same length and loft you used to call a 9-iron now has an "8" on the bottom, what have you really achieved? Visit a clubfitter or golf shop that has a loft/lie machine and length board and learn what you really are playing.

  4. Have you had your putter fitted? I have been through a number of putter fittings the past few years, and am a believer that of all the clubs that should be fitted, this one should. The science has been developed to match the putter to your visual alignment tendencies, and putting is just so much easier if you start out with the putter aimed accurately at the hole! Seems simple enough, right? But if you will watch your buddies when they putt, you'll find that most start with an alignment error then make up for it with the stroke. Doesn't that seem to make this part of the game that much harder? A properly fitted putter will put you in the right alignment more consistently, and fit your stroke so that it is much more likely that you will make a good back and through motion, with the face square. It WILL shave strokes, I assure you.

  5. What ball do you play? If your answer is "whatever I can find" or "whatever is on sale", then you are not optimizing the science of the golf ball that is available to you. And you'll never get the most out of your putting and short game by playing a variety of balls that feel and react differently off the scoring clubs. All of the balls today go plenty far, but you can personalize them to whatever degree you want. The tour pros spend hours and hours matching their ball to their game, monitoring spin and launch angle. You might not be able to do that, but if you find a ball you like, STICK WITH IT!! And I'm a big proponent of playing a softer, higher-spinning ball as it will not cost you yard, but it will sharpen your short game. And that's what scoring is all about.
So, there you have my five tips for getting more out of your equipment. I'm looking forward to hearing from all of you with those that you think should be added.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


[ comments ]
Matt McGee says:
*Sigh* Had some snow flurries around the area last night. Choosing a golf ball requires a different equation when one is playing in temperatures below 55 degrees. I'm surprised that none of the ball manufacturers have marketed a "cold weather" ball.
I'd be curious to have a putter fitted. It sounds like nonsense.
10/23/12
 
windowsurfer says:
Precept MC Lady or other 80 comp ball works 4 me up here in the Fraser Valley, where we golf in the wet year-round (in 45-55ish weather)
10/23/12
 
GBogey says:
I had a putter fitting this year and am pleased with the results. The pro I work with on occasion takes a simplified approach to fittings focusing on length (he thinks most people play with too long of a putter) and neck type. To my surprise I had a tendency to aim right using several neck types. I also found my previous 2-ball putter harder to aim than having a straight aim line.
10/23/12
 
Mr_X says:
MM, I agree with you. I don't think putter fittings make sense for most golfers. Case in point - I putt 30 - 35 strokes for 18 holes 95% of the time. On course I am familiar with I may three put once every 36 holes. On a course with difficult greens I cannot read easily, I may three putt twice a round. I make up those stokes by having a good short game when I miss the green. Twice in the last month I have played full rounds on courses I have never played before AND used course loaner clubs. On both occasions I was using putters that were very different from my own. I had 34 putts on one round and 35 on the other. Both courses had difficult greens and I was using game improvement wedges with giant soles. My overall scores were higher than normal, but my putting was on track with my normal performance. The key is to spend some time dialing in the speed of the putter and learning the true aiming point while warming up on a practice green.
10/23/12
 
Mr_X says:
I cannot imagine Bobby Jones, Byron Nelson, Walter Hagen or Sam Sneed ever going to a putter fitting. You don't need the latest golf technology or some over priced club fitting service to be a good golfer. You don't need a launch monitor or an indoor range to be good at this game. You do need to take some time practicing your shots. (The number of clubs in your bag is not nearly as important as the number of shots in your bag!) Then go out and play those shots in real games of golf. If you are still not pleased with your ability, repeat the last two steps.! All of this other golf marketing crap is to some degree snake oil.
10/23/12
 
Mr_X says:
I have made an effort to emulate better golfers over the last few years. I have asked them how they got to where they are as golfers. The two things I hear most are practice and visualization. The key difference between a 5 index and a 25 index is the amount of practice time and focused playing time. Two scratch golfers I have met said playing well is like part time job. They dedicate 15 to 20 hours a week to playing golf well. If you want to get the most out of your equipment, you should practice more and play more - period.
10/23/12
 
Ianinho says:
@ Mr_X, what you say is true about practicing but do you really think Tiger Woods / Rory McIlroy could go out for a round with your golf clubs and be as good as they would be with their own? Custom fitting helps - period

For those who say its not for me, I'm not good enough for it to make a difference, I would say it makes more of a difference the worse you are.
10/23/12
 
Mr_X says:
Ianinho, I am not arguing the validity of all club fitting. I am arguing the validity of putter fitting. Pros change putters with great regularity. I have know many people to pick up a brand new short stick and putt better with it their first few rounds out than their old putter. I think that Tiger, Rory or any of the top 50 PGA pros could go out for 5 rounds with a new putter and shoot the same number of putts for 90 holes as they would with their regular putter - provided they were given a chance to warm up with before hand.

As Bill Pennington said, "Putting is not an exact science, it is more of an art form".

Watch the attached youtube link for further explanation:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qw--4pNIYSs
10/23/12
 
GBogey says:
For me, the $40 fitting fee for a putter was money well spent and I would to it again. I agree the pros change all the time and most could putt with anything, but most of them are changing these days with the same tools, i.e. laser pointing, that are used during fitting sessions.
10/23/12
 
DougE says:
1. Know my distances and usually hit my distances. I use every one of my 14 clubs and have many alternative sticks in the car for various course set-ups.
2. Average 63% Fairways hit and 90% playable drive using my Titleist 910 D2 driver. I'll continue to play my driver thank you very much.
3. I know the lofts and lies of my irons, and every other club in my bag.
4. Was fit last winter with the new Ping iPhone app. Good enough for me. Love my Ping Anser Milled #5
5. Agree whole-heartedly. I play only 2 different balls and know the different nuances of each one. ProV1x and NXT Tour S. Both great around the greens. Who cares how long off the driver they might be. Doesn't matter one iota IMO. I could care less if you drive your ball 20 yards past mine. I'll make it up at the other end of the hole, where it really counts, around the green.
10/23/12
 
sv677 says:
Two comments:#1: 3 wood or high lofted driver (12*-14*) would be helpful for a lot of people A lot of higher handicapers and seniors can't hit the ball 200 yds. but are trying to hit a 46" driver with 9*-9.5* loft. The result is swinging too hard trying to get the ball airborne. #2. At least for me, putter fitting is a waste of time and $. I average 4 3-putts a round with whatever I use, and I have tried a lot of putters and methods. Either you can putt or you can't. I can't.
10/23/12
 
legitimatebeef says:
I agree w Mr. X. Most of what is marketed in today's golf world is snake oil. It's just a diversion. Ok, so its fine for people who get enjoyment out of tinkering but let's face it none of this stuff is really helping anyone shoot better scores.

If having more clubs causes you to play worse, you got problems!!!
10/23/12
 
larrynjr says:
I just had a driver fitting and while I have a reasonably swing speed; 98-100mph on average, my angle of attack is so steep that I ended up with a 13 degree loft on my driver. I have only gotten to play it once so far but am getting it out there around 250 yds much more often than my old off the rack driver. I believe properly fit clubs (all the clubs) will help every golfer get the most out of their game. Instead of having to make your swing fit you clubs, your clubs should fit your swing. Putter included. That's next for me.
10/23/12
 
bobhooe says:
If a putter fitting or just a new putter gives you more CONFIDENCE you will putt better. It's all about finding confidence
10/24/12
 
Matt McGee says:
Thanks, windowsurfer. I'll try the Precept. So far, I've had good luck with some of the Noodle balls. They seem to react pretty well when it's cold.
I think club fitting makes perfect sense for every other club in the bag. However, I have four putters that I play with. One is about as old as I am (I think), and one has a grip that's so smooth it's slippery. I can change to any of them and hit the ball straight down a line. Dialing in distances is the hard part, and I usually only switch between them if I'm playing very fast greens, or if I've been having trouble putting. Changing putters then seems to get my painfully analytical head out of the putt.
DougE, Great idea - I think "playable drive percentage" is going to be a new stat for me to track. Fairway percentages are fine, but that is a far better gauge of the reality of a shot.
10/24/12
 
Kurt the Knife says:
@Mr X
"They dedicate 15 to 20 hours a week to playing golf well."

Wow. thats only 1-2 rounds a week for me.
10/24/12
 
windowsurfer says:
Hey Matt -- yeah, I find Noodles pretty similar. Like Precept Lady, can be had online for $0.40, or $0.50 ea., if u don't mind logos. +1 to Doug's Playable Drive stat -- in terms of making an empirical decision on driver performance, datsdashit. (Awesome averages, btw.) Loft: I may be anomaly, but one "common wisdom" bit that does not track for me is higher loft drivers for higher HC players. I am an 11 index and I do well with 8* and 8.5* lofts (in summer with lots of FW roll). No balloon shots. I go with higher loft in winter/wet -- when balls plug I need the height cuz the roll ain't there.
10/24/12
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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