How Long?

Length on Tour. Lots of talk around the distances on tour that are basically giving credit to the club and golf ball manufacturers. There are other factors that may have more weight and traction to the debate for ever increasing distance on the main tours.

The players are younger on average. They have more speed than older fields of golfers. This is great for the game 100%.

The conditions are changing, fairways are harder, dryer and wider, greens are softer and watered to help stop the ball. This is great for viewing retention and Ad revenue.

More feedback is available through launch monitors to determine whether equipment and technique changes are better than previous efforts. Instant data.

There’s simply more things happening than the ball changing and club technology.

Not long to go before golf opens up here in the UK on the 29th March and we can all get out there! Hang tight. Credit to the below video from Mark Crossfield:

Drive For Show

How should a Driver be looked at for different abilities of golfer?

Brand wise I’ve always found the following to be generally about right and use this to add weight to any decisions you make. The likes of Ping, Cobra and more recently PXG have been consistent and repeatable which I value highly when planning my way around a golf course. Taylormade and Callaway have been longer on their longest shots but a bit more sporadic with carry and direction. So it depends what you are looking for and the types of course you play. Every brand has a head and shaft combination that will work, new or old.

Or you could always tell me the problem in flight with what you have and I can advise how to best improve it, simples. (biased comment)

Beginner

Loft is your friend in general, look for something 10.5° or 12° to start with and don’t spend too much in my opinion as you will develop your game and potentially be looking to change as you get a feel for the ball going somewhere consistently and learning what differences there are to nurse it to a better place. 10.5 Regular won’t hurt any beginners on an eBay budget I don’t think. This is where your 2010+ Ping and Cobra come in strong <£100.

If you struggle with the driver, you are not alone. Try a 5 wood or any other woods you get on well with in the bag for the really early days on courses and keep testing the water now and then with the big stick until you build confidence.

Club Golfer

The loft will be a big factor in the initial launch of the ball. Too high or too low and it wont get the best of the flight. 90% of the time I’m adjusting people’s driver heads to higher lofts to get the ball launching as high as possible with the changeable necks.

High launch and low spin is the aim for efficiency and a leaf taken from the long drive style golf tournaments you may or may not have heard of. The feeling of hitting UP on the ball is a good one.

Lighter shafts tend to have more torque or twist but are lighter and can be swung faster 40g-55g, this also relates to higher spin rates which can also be changed with the type of head or model depending on brand. Whereas heavier shafts tend to have lower torque from more fibres and more material to get the weight 60-75g and often relate to lower spin rates.

Personally I give more value to the weight than the flex but tests will come soon on the YouTube channel with data to prove or disprove. Most of the time you’ll see some numbering on a shaft like version 5 or model 6, tends to be 50g and 60g respectively.

Everyone is different and has different values, here’s an older blog post that may be of interest regarding how different golfers may approach technique and clubs. https://holesalegolf.co.uk/2021/01/23/the-artist-and-the-scientist/

Elite Golfer

The elite golfer has played with lighter or heavier shafts and knows what has worked or not worked in the past. Might stick to the same lofts based on previous successes but tests and practices a lot to get “dialled in”.

Everyone is certainly different here, some elite golfers have not paid attention to the specs on their clubs, someone who is an artist (from the link above) may adjust their technique over time to get the ball to fly how they like to see it and naturally be able to technically adjust their swing to that without even thinking about doing so. See the flight and hit the shot. The scientists may need more technical work on the clubs loft and shaft and weight and grip and all the minor details along with launch monitor data to get comfy with a club before gaming it.

Tour Professional

Not much for me to say here but this has inspired some services available from my workshop… watch this:

Going Clubbing

How do the clubs in a golf bag progress for different skill levels?

Beginner

Package sets are great to start with and you can replace or upgrade clubs as and when you feel the need. Equally true with 2nd hand or any freebies people may have laying around.

Learn the game. It’s easier to learn if you use the same clubs more frequently as your technique will inevitably vary day to day, so if your clubs change all the time as well, it’s doubly hard to tune in.

I recommend working on; Big shot (Drivers are tricky to control but fun I agree), medium shot, short shot, chipping and putting. You may start with a package set or a set of 2nd hand clubs for example but stick to the below in terms of use and practice where possible from your mysterious bag of sticks.

Use something like this to learn the game; 5 Wood Hybrid 7 Iron PW SW Putter.

Club Golfer

The golf bag is more developed in terms of having woods, hybrids, irons and wedges to hit a bigger spectrum of yardages. May be looking at custom fitting or at least looking in to things like different flexes of shaft with basic understanding.

Custom fitting from my perspective opens up doors for your game, on new and old clubs, a static fit is an extremely important thing to look at if nothing else. Takes 5 minutes and requires a tape measure. It’s based on your height and wrist to floor measurements. Linked to longer playing careers and injury prevention in the spine. (Actually, on reflection check this as a beginner as well if you are NOT between 5’7″ and 6’0″ tall)

14 Clubs may look like; Driver Fairway Fairway Hybrid Irons 5-PW SW 60° Putter.

Elite Golfer

This Golfer has been through many clubs, adjusted, custom fitted, knows what they like the feel of or brands of head and shaft they are familiar with and has varying knowledge of what else it out there and available.

The bag would be way more specific to the individual based on previous success, research, testing and fitting with most distance gaps covered well and rarely two clubs that do the same thing.

14 Clubs may look like; Driver Fairway Hybrid Irons 4-PW 52° 56° 60° Putter.

Emphasis on the more specifically lofted wedges.

Tour Professional

This is another level in itself, main difference being they can wave a hand to get new clubs (for arguments sake). Fittings for these players can take maybe 3 full days. Comparing models, comparing shafts, adjusting based on feedback, swapping out clubs, new wedges every week or month for the top guys. It’s quite spectacular for me looking at what they need. Sometimes the brands may bribe them in to newer models contractually.

Things not at retail; Tour Issue heads and prototype shafts, hot melting, grinding off metal when the heads too heavy, grinding wedge soles for specific needs of players, changing the putter face for softer/firmer, spare duplicate sets just in case, the list goes on.

They may have 17+ clubs and pick the best 14 for the course they are playing that week.

Summary

I could ramble on for days but I’ll drip feed it over time. Start simple and progress at a pace you are comfortable with. I’m here to help if your not sure on anything. Whatsapp button above feel free to ask anything about your bag for FREE advice.

Hit the Like and Comment anything if this has been of value to you or you want specific help with something!

Opening Times

And there we have it. Golf is opening up in the UK at last and praise the Golfing Gods for this wonderful news. 31st of March, Golf opens up again.

I cannot wait to get out there and simply see a ball flight, not even fussed where it goes. Anything within 180° of my nose looking towards the green will do just fine.

Now I need to build some clubs for my golf bag!! Wedges done, just Irons, Hybrid, Fairway/s and Driver left. Oh and the bag itself.

What’s on your to-do list?

Loads of Club MOT’s booked at £30 to make sure nothing is amiss, get involved.

Forgive Me Father

For lack of a better title, I’ll be looking here at what makes an iron more forgiving? The ideas can be translated to other clubs in the bag as it’s the idea behind the technology and what to look for when comparing products.

So what makes a golf iron more forgiving?

Bigger face, wider sole, more perimeter weighting, material? Lets talk about those factors in more depth:

Bigger face – More surface area means more room for error. Look at blade length from one product compared to another to indicate how big the difference may be.

Wider sole – A wider sole gives more surface area for the bottom of the club to bonce off the ground and reduce its ability to dig in. On wedges you’ll see small numbers like 10 next to the loft like 60. 10 would be the amount of bounce and how much that sole sticks out to allow it to bounce and glide on the turf or sand.

Perimeter weighting – So what does this even mean? you see it on marketing all the time. Visually look at the chunks of metal on the heel and the toe at the back of the club. Weight directly behind the ball when you hit it off centre. Slap it off the toe? big hunk of metal there to help, perfect. Brands may use tungsten to get denser metal in specific places.

More weight at the bottom of the club helps the ball launch higher because that weight is underneath the ball. Normally matches up with a wider sole as well as there’s more material there. Extra points for the wider sole designs

The benefit of less perimeter weighting is when a player hits the middle more often, you want the weight behind where you strike it in my opinion. Blades go lower because the weight is higher on the head and more central, they are also easier to shape and add more curvature for those that can control it.

Material – In irons you tend to see forged heads or cast. It has forged written on it when its forged or nothing when it’s not. “Cast” obviously isn’t as sexy enough to sell. Forged is a softer metal and some prefer the feel of it. No noticeable difference in distance based on the manufacturing process or metal but cast tend to be stronger lofted which has far more clout when considering distance.

I hope these little snippets help you in comparing any clubs you may be looking at or assessing what you have in the bag.

If this has been of value to you please drop a comment in and hit the like! Would be greatly appreciated.

Which Way Is North?

Just wanted to run through some basic terminology for golf ball flight. The information below is correct for a right handed golfer. The starting direction and finishing place is of huge importance when diagnosing the golf swing.

We have the following words to describe ball flight in golf; Straight, Draw, Fade, Pull, Push, Hook, Slice, Pull Hook and Push Slice.

STRAIGHT – Straight ball flight and on target. A to B. Bosh.

DRAW – Curved ball flight from right to left and finishes on target. A to B with curve.

FADE – Curved ball flight from left to right and finishes on target. A to B with curve. Sometimes called a “cut”.

Now we are going to start missing the target…

PULL – Ball flight starts left and finishes left. This ball flight is a straight line, no curvature.

PUSH – Ball flight starts right and finishes right. This ball flight is a straight line, no curvature. Sometimes referred to as a “block”.

HOOK – Ball flight starts right and curves to finishing left of the target.

SLICE – Ball flight starts left and curves to finishing right of the target.

PULL HOOK – Ball flight starts left and finishes further left with curvature. Often referred to as a “snap hook”.

PUSH SLICE – Ball flight starts right and finishes further right with curvature. Often referred to as a “fore right” and you shout it at the top of your voice.

The starting direction is important because it is 86% of where the clubface is aiming at impact. A slice or a push slice could be diagnosed wrongly just because of that starting point of the ball flight, they could have 45° difference in where the clubface is actually aiming at impact but I would agree the balls curve is much the same.

During a bad day – take actual note of where the ball is starting as it makes fixing your ball flight later a whole lot easier. Draw with a pencil on the back of your scorecard if you have to. I sometimes do it in playing lessons and it’s so simple.

Tell me what you tend to do (if you think back in your pre lockdown memory hard enough). Where does the ball tend to start for you? Or do you favour a draw or fade?

If this is of value to you, comment anything you have learnt and hit the like. It would be much appreciated!

Flight Club

Anyone heard of a “flyer” at all? commonly used term when a ball jumps way further than you thought it should have.

How do you get a flyer?

It comes from grass trapping in between the ball and the face at impact and it reduces the spin on the ball and causes it to carry further and run more. It happens mostly with Irons and Wedges but it was always something that caught me out now and then and the ball would rocket over the green and in to trouble.

How do I stop a flyer?

Hit the fairways. It emphasises the benefit of hitting the shorter grass as it normally happens coming out of the rough. A place I became familiar with growing up. My game matured over the years but I have had rounds where I was level par after 14 holes and didn’t have a single par on the scorecard and it was always quite colourful. Birdies from the trees and bogeys from the simplest of places because I had no shot to imagine or focus on.

Thinking back, I was simply in the rough too often.

What do I do now?

Something that will be a focal point for me now, getting back to tournament golf will be hitting fairways and thinking about tee shots to leave specific (heavily practiced) yardages in to greens.

Some golf courses aren’t as protected and are easy enough to bash the driver round and wedge it all day but for a long term marathon it will be the fairways i’ll be hunting for to get maximum control in to the pins.

When preparing for a tee shot. Do you feel like you could play it 10 times successfully? Is there a different choice of shot you could pull off more often to have maximum control over the next shot?

Hopefully my thoughts help, drop a comment or a like if it is of value to you.

Carpet Burn

Has anyone burnt a hole in their carpet from practicing their putting so much yet?

I’ve been doing bits here and there to get my fix of golf while patiently waiting for the courses to open up again. Thought I might write something about what I think about to give you something to think about until we can play again;

The ball has to start on line. Or does it? The start line of a putt can vary depending on the pace you like to hit putts at. Do you take the break out and ram it at the back of the cup? do you get the pace just right and let it die in the front edge of the hole? there’s no wrong answer but the start line does vary for each type of player.

The ball has to go the right distance. But what distance do you like to play to? Nick Faldo said on his YouTube channel recently he’s trying to hit a 14ft putt 15ft. I’d not thought of it before in that way but it makes sense. Each player will have different levels of aggression with putting based on the type of game or even the course conditions of the day.

In stroke play I like to let the ball drop in from the edge at dead pace so over the long term round of golf, 3 putts are less likely, but I do hate leaving a putt short. In matchplay it’s a different story, I’ll ram putts while I’m 2 up to get further ahead or generally get a feel for the game as I go and vary. I went 3 years unbeaten in the Leighton Buzzard scratch team so it must have been a good strategy. (Plenty of halved matches). I was mostly passed the opponent off the tee as well so i’d see what they did and have time to react.

What type of putter are you? or had you not even thought about that? aggressive or passive putting could be something to think about when you’re next playing. They can both work very well but if you’re struggling with the putting stats when you get back out there, maybe try each way for 3 hole stints. 3 holes 1ft+ passed the hole and aggressive then 3 holes dead-weighting and see how the scorecard matches up or what’s easier for you to see while your reading the putt.

Let me know what you think about when putting!

Why The Long Clubface?

Over time, irons have been getting longer and longer. Or have they? To get right to the point, lofts have got strong. I mean really strong.

Let’s pick a traditional brand’s most forgiving iron in Titleist’s iron from 2010 (AP1 710) and the most forgiving from 2020 (T400):

Titleist 2010 – AP1 710 5 iron – 26°

Titleist 2010 – AP1 710 3 iron – 20°

Titleist 2020 – T400 5 iron – 20°

Titleist 2020 – T400 3 iron – Does not exist. Neither does the 4 iron in fact? But the weight has been redistributed …bla bla cool story. Good news here is there are 4 matching wedges to replace the missing half set of irons at the other end of the set: PW(38°), W(43°), W2(49°) and a W3(55°).

I think this has all got very silly. Every brand does it and they absolutely have to in order to keep up appearances and “compete” with each other in trying to stay ahead of the distance game. But how long before we have a bag with 8 Wedges starting at 29°? It must have a saturation point and ultimately it doesn’t improve our scores or change the way we play a round of golf.

To make the most of a situation, I’d really advise some attention to the clubs before and after your shiny new irons if you have them or are considering or have had for some time already. With so much variance through even one brand, let alone the whole iron market, how are we supposed to manage our yardages and usefulness of these clubs even if they have funny lofts?

Quickly google your desired or existing iron model followed by the word “specs” maybe hit images to get a small spreadsheet of the lofts! I would very much recommend an AW or GW that matches the set as it will be used in the same way as an old school PW, which definitely had a purpose. Look at the loft of the longest club you have/want and the shortest club to make yourself aware of what you have to play with and how any hybrids or specialty wedges would fit in loft wise.

I was a 2 iron through to PW player. Now I’m looking at 5-PW+GW in my new sticks and 2 specialist wedges after that. Could just as easily go with 3 wedges still. I currently have the heads in a draw ready to be built. A luxury of mine is I can adjust things like shafts, lengths, grip thickness and swingweight after playing my first round. That is a service I do offer after any purchases, much like a tour player going back to a tour truck for tweaks. Free of charge after sales support.

People that hit the ball particularly low may find that there’s a point where your irons on course *carry* yardages stop increasing. I have found this at as little as a 6 iron for someone that actually hit the ball quite hard, the 5 iron just would not go further than the 6… and the 4 iron even shorter. The wedges were very important for this player. You may actually already have a point where you stop feeling comfortable with the longer irons or feel really uncomfortable when closer to the green than a full PW. Don’t feel bad, just stop hitting the ones you don’t have confidence in as this paragraph could hold the key to your frustrations and talking to me could move you in the right direction?

I have a FREE section in BUILD MY CLUBS if you need some more advice in this area or if you’re struggling to get lofts from google for example I’m more than happy to help!

The Shaft Experiment

6 Driver Shafts. 1 Driver Head. When all shafts are the same flex…. How far apart could they possibly be? Many golfers stick to one flex of shaft based on their swing speed and previous successes, but there could be a little more to it than that.

Rick Shiels did an interesting video where he used 1 head and 3 different flexes of the same shaft. Same weight and bend profile. He found very minimal differences between the A Flex, Regular and Stiff shafts. So could I expand on that and see what differences there are in one flex, and one brand?

In fittings over the years, I’ve never used the same type of shaft if the flight characteristics aren’t right, just changing the flex has never proven anything for me. Change the shaft altogether AND the flex and BOOM big changes. So I have my suspicions. I just want data with clubs I’ve built myself to the exact same specs, in a controlled environment to prove or disprove it without doubt of other possible variables.

I plan to do many experiments to help give an understanding of what we really need to know about the shafts and clubs in our bags and what the little pieces of information available actually mean. At the end of the day, if the ball flies better with Club A than Club B, we all want to know why! How can we use this information to get new clubs with more accuracy or go to fittings with more understanding of what’s being given to us and have a deeper, more informed discussion.

6 x shafts from Xcaliber Shafts, 3 x Mystic Series (Lighter) and 3 x Avalon Series (Heavier).

1 x Driver head from PXG, Proto+ 10.5 weighing in at 198g.

The build on the shafts are as follows: Same length, same swingweight, same grip, same golf ball, same day, multiple testers, blind test (shaft model etc taped over) and Flightscope data to measure. They’ve been built and are all ready to go, just waiting for golf to open up again here in the UK to give them a beating! What are your predictions or is there any experiences you’ve had that this relates to? Comment please!

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