(*Warning – Blog contains lots of Trackman numbers. May be for Golf Stat Nerds only!*)
An early alarm, but I was up as quick as the missus for the first day of the Next sales. Storm Erik was rampaging across the country, but not even 40mph winds could dampen my enthusiasm. My gear had been prepared the previous evening, the sat nav was loaded and I was ready to go.
Almost two and a half hours later (will they ever finish the road works on the A14 in Cambridge?) and I was pulling into St. Ives Golf Club and the Titleist National Fitting Centre. Erik was blowing almost directly into the range, so whilst not ideal, I was relieved that it was not left to right across the play.
I had booked the appointment well before Christmas and I was delighted to finally be here. I wanted to try out 3 new clubs – Driver, 3 Fairway & Hybrid. I had never been totally happy with my current Callaway Epic versions and I was hoping for some answers why.
When I looked at my 2018 stats and saw that I was only hitting 50% of fairways with my longest club, I knew this was an area I needed to improve. I was looking for more consistency.
After a few warm-up shots, I put together a pretty decent series of shots with my Epic Driver (Trackman removes the effect of the wind):
My Clubfitter Paul analysed the numbers. He explained that the spin rates were lower than the optimal 2300-3000rpm for my swing. I was getting away with the low spin most of the time because my launch angles were good, but if I lost launch angle due to a bad swing, then the low spin will cause a ‘big miss’.
We set out to find a solution.
Several trials later, we seemed to hit upon an answer.
The dispersion chart above shows my current Epic Driver in red. The specs for the orange was the Titleist TS3 9.5 degree with A2 setting. The shaft was a Project X HZRDUS Smoke 60g with 6.0 flex.
The two Drivers were very similar. The main difference was a slightly heavier shaft in the TS3. As my technique relies heavily on rhythm and tempo, it is likely that I can ‘feel’ the heavier shaft better and return the clubface square more often, leading to the greater consistency shown in the chart.
Importantly, the flex of the shaft was kept soft enough for me to avoid losing the shot to the right, but firm enough to remain stable through impact. The new Driver head and shaft combination allowed me to get the spin rate up to an average of 2587rpm, helping to avoid the wild shots associated with the low spin on my Epic Driver. Whilst my average total distance was down slightly with the TS3 compared with the Epic, my swing speed was also down by 2mph (I needed caffeine at this point in the fitting!).
2. 3 Fairway
My main issues with my Epic fairway wood was that it appeared ‘clumpy’ behind the ball and I have a tendency to hit slightly behind the ball from the fairway. The face is very ‘hot’ and gives great distance, but the lack of grooves seems to make it difficult to flight in wet weather.
The TS3 Fairway immediately looked good behind the ball. It has a significantly smaller head than my Epic, which gave me confidence that I would not hit the shot heavy. There were also grooves across the face which I think will help in the rain.
Here is the club data from one of my typical shots with the TS3 Fairway (15 degree):
This shot finished slightly left of target as the face angle was closed to the swingpath, but the stats are good across the board.
The setting was A2, which is upright lie angle. I tend to come into the ball with my hands quite high and the upright angle helps me make good ground contact, achieve great smash factors and avoid leaving the clubface open.
The shaft was a Tensei AV Blue 75g Stiff flex. Like the Driver, this is a slightly heavier shaft than my Epic, aiding my tempo and consistency.
The selection of the hybrid was all about gaping. Currently I carry an Epic 5W and the large head size and hot face do not help me control distance or direction when playing into a green.
The longest iron I carry is a 4i, so we started by analysing that club:
The average total distance was 193 yards. With my 3 Fairway totalling around 232 yards, I needed something in the middle.
Almost instantly, I fell in love with the 19 degree 818 H1 hybrid. With an A2 setting and a Tensei AV Blue 80g stiff flex shaft, it gave me amazing consistency and an average of 212 yards of distance.
Again, with a slightly heavier shaft than my current option, it helped with my consistency and also offered a better transition to my steel shafted irons.
Overall, I had a great day and am excited by the new clubs. Paul was fantastic. As well as improve my set make-up, I also learnt so much about my game. I will take away the following:
- My attack angles are great with the different clubs. I hit down nicely with the irons, am flat with the fairways and hit up slightly with the Driver.
- My swingpath is consistently nicely from the inside. This should allow me to hit a soft draw as my stock shot. The key is obviously to return to the ball with a square clubface. The right clubs are a crucial ingredient in this, but alignment at the set-up position is also critical.
- I am close to touching 100mph swing speed with my Driver. I would love to gain an extra 5mph to get me into 3 figures. I believe that I can do this through a combination of improved flexibility, relaxation and trust in my clubs and technique. (I do not have the motivation to go to the gym!).
I definitely recommend a proper custom-fit. It is far more important than which brand you use.