Clubs & Equipment

Equipment plays an unarguably substantial role in every sport, but golf falls into the category of sports in which the equipment is simply imperative.  A soccer ball may make it’s way around the field with a few swift kicks, a football may find it’s way to the end zone with one nice throw, but a golf ball will not drive 300 yards without a very specific piece of equipment.  Clubs are the reason we can even play golf, and properly fitted clubs are the reason that we can play golf well.

The decision to purchase golf clubs is often an exciting investment.  It denotes a new level of commitment to the game, and is met with an enthusiasm to progress as a golfer.   Many golfers buying clubs reach for a set of OTR (Off the Rack) clubs, as they are readily available at sporting good stores and pro shops, and tend to be the cheapest and quickest option.  While quick and cheap are indeed appealing selling features to many, OTR clubs can result in spending hundreds of dollars on equipment that may actually hold back a golfer’s progression.

Purchasing OTR equipment from major sporting good stores or pro shops comes with several disadvantages.  Most commonly, the stock is limited, and the staff may lack knowledge.  Any given store only sells select brands or sizes.  Regardless of the fit a golfer should be purchasing, the salesperson will do his best to be sure you go with one of their clubs.  In addition, that same salesperson may well have been working in the hunting department the day prior, and has limited golfing knowledge in general.

The largest disadvantage however, is that stores of this nature have very rudimentary club-fitting technology, if any at all.  They likely analyze height to determine shaft length, and perhaps allow a few test strokes to see which club feels most comfortable, but they bypass the most crucial elements necessary to match a golfer with his optimal set of clubs.  The consequence of using inadequate fitting technology leads the golfer to choose his clubs based on the specifications provided by the brand or manufacturer.  While this may sound reasonable, there are unfortunately no standards by which manufacturers designate these specifications, meaning what one brand considers a “Ladies Flex,” can be a competitor’s “Regular Flex.”

In short, OTR clubs tend to be both inconsistently marketed and improperly fitted, and subsequently end up in the hands of the wrong golfers.
Discerning between off the rack clubs, “customized” clubs, and custom fitted can be rather disorienting.  So let’s simplify the comparison.OTR clubs, as discussed earlier, are those typically sold in Pro Shops and sporting good stores as is.  The specifications regarding Shaft Length, Shaft Flex, and Club Head are set by the designated manufacturer based on a loosely defined “average” of golfing styles.  While it is not impossible to find a decent set of clubs off-the-rack, it is unlikely to find a properly fitted set due to how few variables are taken into account during the fitting process.“Customized” clubs are where the real confusion comes in.  Customized clubs go beyond the rudimentary fitting methods of OTR clubs, and are usually heavily endorsed by a slew of professional golfers.  These are extremely well marketed, and the price tag matches accordingly.  Purchasing a set of customized clubs will likely mean you use the same brand as a few pros, but it certainly does not ensure that you will golf like one.The difference between customized and custom fitted clubs lays within the fitting process.  A “customized” fitting will entail a great deal of physical measurements, and many practice swings to determine swing speed, and in turn shaft length and flex.  Again, it is possible to find a fairly well fitted set of clubs through these methods, but it is unlikely to find the optimal set of clubs.
The key to optimal club fitting is properly measuring CPMs (Cycles Per Minute).  The purpose of the shaft in a club is to help the club-face be square, and ideally release the maximum stored energy through the clubhead at the moment of impact with the ball. Frequency matching shafts using CPMs do exactly that. Flex fitted shafts are a thing of the past, because there is no standard in place to qualify the CPMs from company to company.Even with flex fitted custom clubs, builders make clubs based on a scale that allows a margin of error as large as +/- 50CPMs, while an optimal club should measure between +/- 4 CPMs.  That is the category in which custom fitted clubs fall, and conveniently, the category in which Aaron Genton’s custom clubs fall.
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