RIDEAU VIEW GOLF CLUB - OTTAWA'S PREMIER PRIVATE GOLF EXPERIENCE.
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I have a friend who thinks he has a good excuse for not getting fitted for his golf clubs.
"Well, if I get my clubs fit, that's one less excuse I'm going to have," he said.
"Besides, I'm not good enough to get my clubs fit. My swing isn't consistent enough."
Before I could point out that maybe his swing wasn't consistent because he hadn't been fit for his clubs by a professional, he was off in the direction of the beverage cart.
Anybody who has even a passing interest in improving their performance in this wonderful game, owes it to themselves to get fit by a professional in a proper environment.
On a brisk fall afternoon, Rideau View head professional Paul Sherratt cranked up the garage door at the club's Player Development Centre.
The Player Development Centre sits to the left of Rideau View's practice range. With the door open and within the shelter of the building, you can hit balls even on a less than ideal fall day.
Using a TrackMan Performance Studio launch monitor, Sherratt gets me to hit three shots with my 6-iron, a stiff-shafted PING i20.
That establishes a base line that can be compared to other clubhead and shaft combinations.
Sherratt's hands fly as he unscrews and recombines G25 and i25 clubheads from PING, AP1, AP2 and forged blade clubheads from Titleist with regular, stiff and even a senior graphite shaft.
There are three swings with each clubhead/shaft combination. On the TrackMan monitor, Sherratt colour codes each of the shots, plotting them on a screen that shows distance and dispersion.
What the TrackMan reveals: with a clubhead speed of about 80 mph with the 6-iron, I got the best results with a stiff shaft (a Project X 5.5) and the AP2 clubhead.
I had a tighter dispersion and two out of my three swings with the AP2/stiff combination went longer and straighter (about 10 yards) than my best shot with my own i20.
There you go.
I went through the process as well with my driver, but was reassured to find that there wasn't another driver/shaft combination that Sherratt could put together that was a significant improvement on my current gamer.
"There's not a lot to choose from between your driver and these drivers," Sherratt said. "This is one of these cases where if I was club fitting you, two things are going to happen. You're going to start by saying, 'I want a new driver.' However, based on the results of all the driver/shaft combinations we tried, we can see that the other drivers are not consistently producing a better result. I would recommend staying with your current driver; so you're going to walk away happy."
The amount of information that can be gleaned from TrackMan is, of course, staggering.
"To me, club fitting is an art," said Sherratt. "It's part science, but it's an art."
The statistics can also give valuable feedback - as long as you have someone like Sherratt to interpret it - about your swing.
There was good news: "Your club speed is remarkably consistent, which is a pretty good indicator to me that your tempo is very consistent," said Sherratt. "Your attack angle is also very consistent."
Where I was inconsistent was in the angle of the face of the club.
"It goes from almost square to decidedly closed. That would indicate to me that there's manipulation by your hands. The purpose of the design of the golf grip is to put a person's hands on the golf club in such a way that they cannot use their hands to exert force," Sherratt explained.
"All your hands are supposed to do is make a connection between your body and the club in such a way that there is no deliberate manipulation required to square the clubface; the swing will deliver the clubface square."
Sherratt further explained I was swinging my arms instead of rotating my trunk.
"At the end of a club fitting session, it's either going to be obvious if a different club produces the best results for your swing, or that your existing equipment performs as well or better than any other option," said Sherratt.
"Or they need some help with their golf swing."
I got the help and now I've got something to work on this spring.