Do you sometimes feel, that for whatever reason, some of your golf club(s) just aren’t cutting the Grey Poupon anymore? They just don’t give you any feel you’re looking for?
I remember a few (ok, more than a few) years back I was hitting an aluminum shafted persimmon 3-wood (Yes, ALUMINUM!) and I could literally knock the buggers out of that thing – and this was not long after almost everyone was hitting metal woods. My playing partners would rib me to no end when I hauled that out.
But it just was the right size, shaft had the perfect amount of bend, etc. I just felt like I could never hit that club bad (gee, I wish I could find 1 more club like that!)
Anyway, it will pay to have you take a good, objective look at your current golf clubs. Are they really serving you or vice versa?
What we will NOT delve into here are the specifics of custom club fitting – lie angle, shaft flex, swing speed, launch angle, etc. that is for the land of custom fitting and that’s for another time and place.
We are also going to go on the assumption that your swing is fairly solid. I’m not going to mingle swing patterns (left to right ball path, low ball hitter, etc. etc.) with equipment changes, although we both know they are part and parcel of the same thing.
I believe the questions below are a good start to at least start the conversation so you can take action.
Realize this doesn’t have to be anything scientific. I’m not asking you to rev up Microsoft Excel and to complete a thorough, detailed, ultra-specific, scientific assessment by any means. Just jotting down a few notes on paper will suffice. I’ll get a bit more specific about what to jot down towards the end of the post.
My goal is to hopefully instill a few “ah-hah” moments where you will consider an equipment change(s) that will *almost* instantly transform your game.
Here we go.
HOW OLD ARE THEY?
Anything over 4 years + you might want to begin thinking about upgrading or buying new.
Not that technology has been super improved. Sure, shafts have improved and some aerodynamics and size, however, the big thing to think about is the adjustability. Obviously, I’m talking about drivers here.
You may have a driver that is getting up there in age and you are “locked” into thats clubs loft, face angle, etc. The adjustability, in my opinion, is terrific. It gives you that much more flexibility to hone in on the specs that will work for your own unique swing characteristics.
Also, what general condition are they in? If you play a ton of golf, things just wear out after time. Particularly if you play and practice a lot, you might not realize that particular club has just seen better days.
For example, wedges often go first, particularly if you practice a lot out of the sand. The grooves will get worn down in a hurry.
ARE THERE ANY GLARING GAPS?
Now assess what your current club lineup. Say you have a PW, SW, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, Driver, 3-wood, 5-wood, putter. That’s 13 clubs total. USGA rules allow you to carry up to 14.
Just as an example, say you are over 50, play from the white tees and your home course plays relatively short and has some consistently knarly rough around the greens.
In this case you might want to consider adding a lob or gap wedge to your clubs.
Vokey (makers of the exquisite line of Vokey Wedges) actually recommends 4-6 degrees of loft between your wedges which equates to distance gaps of approximately 12-15 yards.
For example, in your current set, you have a pitching wedge that is 44 degrees and you hit it 110 yards (on average). You also have a 56 degree sand wedge which you max out around 80 yards. So we have a working gap of 30 yards between your wedges. If you play a shorter course and there’s a premium is on getting up and down then that gap is too much.
You might then consider adding another wedge to your set. Say a gap wedge. If you had one that you could max out at 95 yards or so, you’ve “closed the gap” and added an important club to your game.
Same goes with other clubs. If seen playing partners with much to big of a gap between like a 4 or 5-iron and the next club is a 3-wood. That’s pretty substantial. Again, I realize this is just a method to figure out if the gaps are NOT working for you based on your current game, home course, etc.
ARE THEY NOT PERFORMING?
Are some of your clubs not performing? I’m of the mindset that you should be *fairly* confident with every single club in your bag. I realize this is relative statement. Sure, sometimes you will make the most disastrous of flubs with your favorite clubs but we know (don’t we??) that we are not going to always hit solid shots.
But if a couple of your clubs are driving you to put that flask in your bag almost every round maybe you need to make a change. Did you “all-of-a-sudden” stop hitting it? Have you really ever hit this club well? Do you hit it solid on the range? How old is the club?
If we have had the club for a number of years, that could be part of the reason. There are other reasons, too. Bottomline, if it’s not performing for you, consider removing and replacing.
DO THEY NEED TO BE RE-CONDITIONED?
Instead of buying new or a relatively newer, used club you may want to consider reconditioning your clubs.
If your iron grooves have been noticeably worn down you can purchase a groove sharpening tool. You can get these at any online golf retailer, but you need to be aware of what you are doing. While the sharpening tools do give bite back to a “senior” wedge, they do not come close to the sharpness of new grooves. But it is an improvement.
Keep in mind the rules of golf state that grooves must be no more than 0.035 inches wide, 0.020 inches deep and 0.075 inches from any adjacent grooves. Pretty specific, eh! If you play competitively, using a groove sharpener could make your clubs non-conforming and illegal for competition. As a matter of fact, Titleist’s Vokey Wedgeworks shops will not resharpen grooves because the margin is so thin between conforming and non-conforming.
How about the grips? Do they “feel” new? Do the grips feel new and tacky? or does it feel like you have half a sandwich embedded in them? Well, my little munchkins, then it just might be time to, of course, clean and if in even sadder shape, just replace.
I often think replacing the grip is one of the fastest way to bring some lustre and life to your clubs. It’s so easy to do or have them done. Almost immediately they feel brand new and there are so many good options out there. Look into the innovative stuff Lampkin or Winn Grips have to offer.
DO I REALLY NEED THIS CLUB?
When evaluating your equipment take a close look at all your clubs. Are there any that you just don’t need (or use) anymore? This is a bit different than if the club is performing or not. So it’s a good, solid performing club but if you don’t need it – asta la vista, baby.
Just last year I still carried a 3-iron. I used to smoke that thing but now that I’m over 50 and the swing speed has slowed a bit I just don’t need the damn club. I don’t use it and it’s just not working for me.
Just out of vanity I probably carried that club 2 years too long. I don’t know, maybe just to show off to my younger player partners that I still carried one.
Whatever the twisted psychological reason, it should have been removed MUCH earlier. I replaced it with a hybrid and I (and the game) are much happier.
YOU DON’T LIKE THE WAY THEY LOOK
Sometimes this one get’s underplayed a bit. I mean if every time you look down and your 1st mental thought is “Yuk” as you really don’t like the look of the darn thing – well, that’s not conducive to your best golf.
I think inherently we “know” a nice looking club when we come upon it. Of course, that’s why there are so many styles, looks, etc. Some want clean and classical, some want a little more modern and hip and others like funky and a bit out there (and I’m sure I’m missing many others!)
The good news is most of us know that already! We kinda have a feel for our style. It’s like the way we USUALLY dress. Do we dress like Tiger (classical) or Rickie (hip) or John Daly (out there – the pants anyway).
So think about those things when changing your equipment. For me, somehow the classic Titleist driver just is too formal looking. Yeah, I know, if I hit the snot of out it, who cares, right? but I want the club(s) to feel like they are “part” of me – like they are an extension of me.
So take a look at your current set with that filter in mind. Also, it’s cool to go a larger golf store and just pick up, look and feel a lot of clubs. You’ll tend to gravitate towards some and not others. Make note of that. I just love doing this! My wife thinks I’m nuts but hey, it’s golf!
WHAT DO I DO NEXT?
Steps to take.
1. The first, and most important, is to write down what you currently have. Yes, write it on paper. Catalog it.
2. Write down how old the club is. If you don’t know, just guesstimate.
3. You know those little smiley faces you notice at hospital’s or clinics that are supposed to suggest your pain level from 1-10? yep, draw one of those next to it.
4. Jot down a few notes as to your typical course, do I want to get up and down more? more distance (who doesn’t), Need a 200 yard hybrid, etc.
5. Plan to upgrade, replace or add/substract just 1 club. If you want to do more than one – go for it, but at least that’s do-able.
I know from experience if you try to take on your whole bag at once, well, mentally, it’s just easier to do nothing.
6. Next, Talk to your pro. See where you go with that. Look up if there are local club fitters in your area, head to a demo day and try to hit a slew of clubs. See which ones fit your eye and your swing. Or you can obviously go out and buy new golf equipment! It sometimes can be instantly obvious that THIS is the club that will make a huge (no, not just a minor) difference in your game.
I’d be curious to know how you made out. Be great to hear your comments.
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