Graphite or steel, forged or cast, length, weight and feel are just a couple of the things golf club consumers must consider when attempting to find the right golf clubs.
Sifting through the technological jargon and advertising pitches is nearly impossible without an engineering degree. Also, with the ever-changing landscape of companies, it's hard to know what's available.
By now most golfers know that to play their best golf they need clubs that are properly fitted. That's the easy part. The hard part is taking that information and selecting what clubs they want, need and can afford.
Let's start from the bottom up.
Concerning the clubhead, there are two different kinds. The most common is a cast clubhead.
In simple terms a cast club is produced by creating a mold that is filled with metal. The metal is then heated and cooled to form the shape of the clubhead. After some polishing and buffing, the club is ready for use.
"This is what most of the name brand clubs are that you find in pro shops," said Brian Erickson, PGA professional at Pine Meadows. "It has a larger sweet spot for more forgiveness and with all the weight towards the bottom of the clubhead, it allows the ball to reach a higher trajectory."
The other type of clubhead is forged. Once again in simple terms, the manufacturer takes a metal and presses it into a general shape of the club, but larger than the actual size. Then the club builder shapes it down to the desired size and shape.
"This is what most players on the tour use because it gives them better feedback when they hit the club," said Erickson. "It has a slimmer look to it, which most of the pros like.
"They're a lot thinner than cast clubheads, but the sweet spot is a lot smaller and needs a precise hit every time to be effective."
Bill Moseley, who's a master club fitter for Meridian Golf at the Pines, said that as long as the clubhead is made from good material and is properly balanced and weighted from one club to the next, any clubhead is going to be good.
"The clubhead really only impacts the performance of the ball about 10 percent," he said. "The shaft is 85 to 90 percent of the performance of the club depending on if it's a wood or an iron.
"If the shaft is fit properly with the right flex and bend points, you're going to have a club that feels the same from 3-iron to lob wedge."
With shafts there are two choices, steel and graphite. Graphite is a material that has been cured and formed to a certain size. There are different kinds of graphite shafts that both bend and twist in certain ways to fit each individual.
"You don't want a lot of twist if you have a high swing speed or fast tempo like Nick Price," said Moseley. "You want something that's going to hold up and stabilize because of all the energy that's been thrust into the shaft during the backswing.
"You get someone who is much slower and smoother with their swing like Ernie Els, you build the bend point in the shaft and the torque of the shaft a little different."
With steel the player gets more consistency, but also more vibration on mishits. Steel is more reliable and durable then graphite, making it great for younger players and high handicappers.
Moseley said graphite does torque a little more which translates into more distance, but the drawback is accuracy. Older players like the softer feel and less vibration of graphite.
The final part and one that's often overlooked is the grip.
"The weight of the grip has a lot to do with how the club feels when you swing," said Moseley. "People who just regrip their clubs and regrip with something that weights differently then before are going to find that the club is not going to feel the same."
The clubhead, shaft, and grip weight are things professionals consider when fitting you for a new club.
When purchasing a new club, go through a fitting and afterwards ask the professional what club might best fit your game. With a basic knowledge of the technological vocabulary you can get the best club at the right price in your hand.
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