The game changer for me has been been more about shaft selection rather than clubs. I few years ago, When I decided to move on from my trusted Hogan Apex irons and older Taylor Made Woods (TP R-5), the selection came down to a toss up between Titleist (AP2) and Mizuno (MP-59) irons, and Calaway (Epic) and Titleist (917) driver/3 wood/hybrids. I picked these clubs simply based on how they felt, how they sounded, and how the looked at address. That is where the fitting process started…
The revelation to me as I went through the fitting process was the difference shaft selection made to the overall performance. For years, I had played TrueTemper S-100/200/300 for my irons, and what ever stiff shaft came with the driving clubs. This time, I got properly fitted and ended up going to a lighter shaft (KBS), which gave me more spin, a slightly higher ball flight, a tighter dispersion pattern, and an extra 5-20 yards (5 on pw, progressive increase to 20 on 4 iron). I also added 1 inch in length and had the irons set up 1 degree upright to fit my height and my hand height at address. All this combined to give me a much more consistent traj and a crisp and vibration-free impact.
For the driver, I went through 13 different shafts, with the best being 70+ yards longer than the worst. Yes, that’s right, 70 yards, no typo! Now, the biggest changes were with spin rate, launch angle, and smash factor. Changing loft and pro-fade/draw lie had some impact, but this was nowhere as important as shaft selection. Given that most higher-end driver heads are maxed out when it comes to COR (% imparted energy/speed at impact), the shaft is where most of the energy gains are achieved. I saw a variety of launch angles and smash factors with other shafts, but the biggest divergence was with spin rate, which exceeded 4500 rpm with the worst shaft fitting for my swing. In the end, I settled on a stiff Graphite Design AD DI-6s shaft which gave me numbers of 2100-2500 rpm, 13* launch angle, and 1.45+ smash factor with the driver. I also tried the exact same shaft with both the Titleist and Calaway heads and, other than feel and sound at impact, the numbers were almost identical. It’s true, the shaft is the engine!
Now, my experience is only based on my own swing, and it is limited to lower handicap clubs only (hate that categorization - perhaps “less forgiving” is more PC). This said, and given the differences at play here, I am confident in extrapolating the benefits of proper shaft fitting across the club spectrum. A true game changer in my mind.
Moral of the story is get fitted, try different shaft types, weights, stiffness for all your clubs, not just the driver. Get what you need, don’t limit your selection to what is on offer. Try different clubs makes, and benefit from the different fitting technology each club maker offers. Take all the info and then apply it to get the clubs that work best for you.
Next time, I’ll tell you about my search for the best putter “for me”!