Launch Monitors and Such
Well, it’s Friday and I’m going to tee off on a disturbing trend I see in the golf equipment industry – that of using launch monitors to fit and SELL golf clubs. The latest “victim” is a dedicated young golfer at our club, who went through a fitting and purchase at a major retailer just last week. He’s in the 8th grade, practices his short game diligently and has tons of potential. I have given him lots of attention and he thinks it’s very cool to know someone who is in the golf club business.

So, back to our story. On Thursday, he tells me he got a new set of irons, after being fitted at this major retail store. He was all pumped up that he hits this new 7-iron “154 yards”. Now, this kid is about 5’2” and weighs 119 pounds, and there is no way he hits a 7-iron 154 yards, I’m telling ya. But he’s been served a double dose of extra strength “major brand, launch monitor Kool-Aid” and is just sure that this is the absolute truth.

So, we went out and played a few holes yesterday afternoon, and quickly determined that he hits this new 7-iron about 130 . . . 135 tops. But this obsession with power and distance has him swinging from his heels on every club, from driver to wedge. To me, he’s gone backwards from where he was last summer, because he has devolved from scary straight to all over the lot. He’s swinging just too damn hard at the ball.

Besides not coaching this kid to throttle it back a bit, the first 100% “miss” by the so-called fitter was that this kid has a strong right hand and fights a hook. But the fitter puts him in a super game improvement club with a big offset and under-slung hosel, both of which promote a right-to-left ball flight. The second big miss, in my opinion, is that he puts the kid in a steel R flex shaft, instead of something lighter. I think because that’s what he had in stock, but that’s just a guess.

My point of all this is that you need to proceed with caution when being fitted, especially if that’s being done indoors with a launch monitor. Those things are not entirely accurate, and it’s no big secret in the trade that they very often “crank them up” at demo days and fittings to impress you with how far you are hitting this new driver or any other club.

Yes, I’m a wedge guy, but this obsession with distance is not helping golfers . . . any of you. If you want to see just what that new driver might do for your game, try this experiment. Go play a round of golf, just for “science”. When you get to your ball after each drive, pick it up and walk it 15 more yards on the line it was taking. Not further down the hole, but on the line the ball was taking when it stopped. 15 yards, OK? Sometimes that will mean a full club shorter into the green from the fairway. Sometimes it will mean past the trouble. But other times it will put you in that unreachable bunker, or all the way into the hazard, or out of bounds.

Do this little experiment, take the good with the bad, and let us know what that extra 15 yards did to your scoring, OK? I’m hoping we get hundreds of you to do this – we’ll take the story to the major press if you do.

Let’s go, guys!
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[ comments ]
nswynnerton says:
Another 15-yard test: A long time ago I was at a PGA training school for Assistant Pros. Bob Toski was giving the lecture on teaching and when he came to the part about improving our own games (everyone woke up then---selling clothes to lady club members didn't interest many people) he talked about the importance of putting ones tee shot in the fairway. He said that the next time we played and hit our tee shot OB or in a lake or in the rough, behind a tree, etc., we should pick up the ball, walk to the middle of the fairway then "give ourselves a 15-yard penalty. That is, walk back from there towards the tee and play our next shot. At the end of the round we should see a nice improvement in our score. Accuracy is more important that that extra 15 yards!
mtgolfidiot says:
I was just fitted with a new driver at a major retailer. Launch monitor said I was hitting the driver 295 yards. I have never come close to hitting a ball (even downhill, downwind with roll) that far. When I looked at the sales person he shrugged his shoulders and said, "well, sometimes the monitor is off a bit"...
dooboo says:
@mtgolfidiot Maybe you had a strong wind from behind helping the launch monitor. LOL
DaRupp13 says:
I was testing out new drivers a few months ago and there was a TM fitter there. Just for fun, I tried the new R11 irons. I hit a 6 iron, something I normally hit about 165-175. The monitor said 205. I say to the guy, sales are down huh? He said a lot of sales people do that all the time, and to really look at flight distance, which was about 180. A little closer to reality but something for everyone to keep in mind.

Regarding the distance vs. accuracy, I've actually found when I just put a good smooth swing on the ball aiming for solid contact, not only does it go straight, but typically further than when I try to kill it. My clubhead speed is naturally pretty high so a "good smooth swing" is still a pretty hard swing - but it's controlled.
bobhooe says:
so what do I do for my 3-8 irons after I spend $639 on 5 of your wedges? dont buy off the shelf name brands and don't trust the guys that are fitting you at the big box store. I do not care about distance, I had my driver chopped 1.5" last year to hit more fairways and it worked and I'm all in on your idea for playing blades but im not going to go buy 15year old Hogans. How do I figure out whats best for me. I do not have a practicle way to test many different clubs in game situations so im stuck hitting taped faced clubs into virtual ranges.
birdieXris says:
whenever i'm at a place, i always hit the new gear against my old gear and have the specs checked. Never ever go off of what the swing monitor says, unless it's speaking in terms of clubhead speed and spin rate. What is projected on the screen and estimates in distance are garbage as far as i'm concerned. It should be noted that i also don't let the tech touch the machine while i'm on it. I don't care for one club being one color or another... i just want facts.
larrynjr says:
@bobhooe, go to a true club maker / fitter and have him/her fit you. The one I went to was less interested in selling me a club then he was in getting me fit for what what I was able to do. He used a flight monitor and determined I was hitting my 1H, 7w and 9w all within 2 yds of each other. He did put me into a new Wishon 4w and shortened the shaft on my 7w to match the frequency of my 9w, (which is one of my best clubs). My buddy who also was there, had his driver reshafted instead of being sold a new driver. Go to or to find lists of reputable clubfitters in your area.
frankteo714 says:
When I got fitted at a local Golftec last summer for my Burner 2.0 irons, it said I was hitting the 6 iron 200 yards. I knew that wasn't right. Got me excited for a minute though. Whenever I hit drivers on launch monitors, it says I hit it way shorter than I really do. I'm not a fan of them at all.
Trip says:
I was recently fitted on a driving range watching my ball flight. A co-worker who moonlights at a big name golf shop said, "dude, you need to come to my shop, we have launch monitors and can really fit you up!". I said, "but I can't see my ball flight". He said, "but the equipment is awesome,". I said again, "but I can't see my ball flight". He goes, "but the launch monitor tells you how far you hit it."

He didn't get my point until I compared it to buying a car by test-driving on a simulator.
TeT says:
You know; a Trackman at a range with someone who knows what they are doing err analyzing ... is a good thing. In a big ginormous retail store with a guy named Joe (as in Schmoe) well you get what you get.

You have to be familiar with the service you are getting just to know if the guy selling it is at least decent.
Tim Horan says:
I played Sunday first time since the snow. Took out two drivers (sorry Terry I dumped the lob wedge for a driver). The two drivers are at the extreme ends of my arsenal. One is a 46" extra stiff 427cc beast as wild as a pigs ear unless I am really swinging well. The other is a forgiving 43" tip stiff with a soft butt 460cc.
I used the wild beast twice all round. I know that I can bomb 320yds with it and on a good day it will be straight. Saturday the pussycat got me 275yds dead straight every time. I hit 1 birdie, 14 pars, 1 bogey and two double bogeys. You can guess on which ones I used the wild beast on. Distance will never compete against acuracy. Get fitted properly launch monitors are only good for a small part of that process and although some are able to tell you what your dynamic angle of attack is this cannot tell you why you attack at that angle. All swings are a combination of faults and compensations a launch monitor cannot pick these up.
Niramas says:
My local pro takes his LM out to the range and works with you, changing shafts, heads, etc. and uses the LM as a tool along with the real ball flight to get you into the right setup. I probably paid 10% more fo my clubs, but it was way worth it.

Don't be a cheapskate; If you are going to make a serious investment, pay a little more and get something you can feel good about. I would be so pissed if I spent $1000 on a set of clubs that weren't taylor made exactly for me. (pun not intended)
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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