The Loop

Clubfitting research: Unconventional improvement

Our research project on the effect of clubfitting, which is being conducted in conjunction with Club Champion, is just getting started and already the results are educating us in ways we haven't thought about before.

Case in point: Today I had a conversation with Glenn Goldsborough, a physics and astronomy teacher and golf coach at Pennsbury High School in Fairless Hills, Pa., who is one of the participants in our study. His intense fitting resulted in changes throughout his bag, but one of the more interesting developments is one even the more sophisticated equipment geeks might find counterintuitive: Slower speeds yielding more distance.

Here's how that idea played out for Goldsborough, who plays to a 10.6 index: His current irons, TaylorMade's Tour Burner, feature a stock graphite shaft that weighs just 65 grams. But Goldsborough was fit to TaylorMade's R11 irons with a KBS Tour C Taper shaft that weighs nearly twice as much.

Not surprisingly, the new, heavier shafts, reduced his clubhead speed with the 6-iron slightly, but they increased his distance by as much as a full club through the set.

"Even though I'm not swinging as fast, I'm still seeing a bigger distance gain because I'm hitting it more squarely and I also think the shaft is maximizing the energy that I'm putting into it," Goldsborough said.

"It feels like I have a metal ring around me on my swing plane. It just seems like the club just stays there through my whole swing."

Goldsborough said the opposite was true with his fairway woods and driver, where the lighter shafts produced the better results.

"It really was an amazing education for me. You really can't pigeonhole anybody's swing or what they do with different clubs until you actually get on the launch monitor and see the numbers."

The mission of the Golf Digest-Club Champion clubfitting study is to take players who had not been fit for clubs before and see if a clubfitting changes their game. The range of players participating in our project includes low single-digit players as well as those who have a difficult time breaking 90. We'll continue to track the performances and perceptions of the participants in our clubfitting study throughout the summer.

--Mike Stachura**Follow me on Twitter @Mike Stachura