12 Myths That Could Wreck Your Golf Game (P4)

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Women’s clubs are designed for women.

It pains me to say this, but, by and large, the women get a raw deal when it comes to golf equipment. Male golfers get to choose from several different head designs, driver lofts, and shaft flexes, in steel or graphite. Women get to choose from one head model, maybe two but usually only one driver loft, and one flex of one model of shaft in one length.

If you applied the golf industry’s approach to equipment selection for women 

to the clothing industry, here’s what you would see in your local department store. You would walk through the men’s department and see the usual array of sizes and styles from small to XXX-large, but when you get to the women’s department, you would see clothing offered in only two or three styles and only in size small.

The same thing is true in the “senior golfer” department. The customer would only see limited styles and “one size” from which to meet their clothing needs. With regard to women…have you ever seen a golf club marketed to “senior women”? Right. Like senior women don’t play golf?

In the average retail golf store, the regular men’s clubs account for close to 90 percent of all the clubs in the store. Lofts on drivers are stocked from 8 to 12 degrees and flexes on both graphite and steel shafts in R, S, and X. For women’s clubs, however, drivers are usually stocked in a 12- or 13-degree loft, lengths are an inch shorter than the corresponding men’s model; and shafts are offered in only one flex.

The problem is that the vast majority of “average” female golfers need driv- ers with more loft than what is offered, shorter lengths for all the woods, a set makeup that eliminates the 3y and 4yiron (and probably even the 5yiron thanks to the 3vanishing loft ́ disease of modern irons) completely from consideration, and a choice of at least two different shaft flexes that should be more flexible than any men’s shaft.

But it gets worse. Most people assume that a women’s golf clubhead is based on the men’s, but represents a fresh design and a unique casting. Sometimes that is true, but it is unusual. If you were to compare the specifications of, let’s say, a random set of women’s irons and a set of men’s, you might be surprised to find that the loft, lie, weight, and design features are exactly the same. They are simply men’s clubs that are marketed to women.

Then we have the shafts themselves. Earlier we discussed the problem of shaft flex at some length. We pointed out that shaft flex is not standardized and, therefore, its letter code designations for flex are virtually meaningless.

Regarding women’s shafts, we have to amend that conclusion. With the L- flexes, the results of the study were both predictable and meaningful. Every one of the shafts they tested was out of sequence compared to the other A, R, S, and X shaft flexes. They were ALL too stiff for a female golfer with a 65 mph swing speed2especially when cut and installed to the final assembly length.

Women’s clubs are designed for women

Terrific.

To be fair, a few shaft companies have recently come out with what they call an “LL-Flex. ” Translated, the LLyflex means: “We-finally-figured-out-there-are-differences-in-female-golfers’-swing-speeds-just-like-there-are-with-men-so- we-decided-to-finally-do-what-we-do-for-men-and-offer-you-a-hoice.” I look forward to seeing the data that confirm the LL-flex as being what it is supposed to be. If it is, it’ll be a breakthrough.

The point here is that there are women, senior, and even some junior golfers who can and should play with the same fitting specifications that you would find in men’s clubs. And there are some men who can and should be playing with what are labeled by the golf industry as “senior ” or “lady ” club specifications. The only way to know is to be properly and professionally fitted.

Just because someone put pink, taupe, or mauve paint on their golf club- heads does not mean that they are right for you as a female golfer. Properly fit golf clubs know no gender restrictions. They only know that they are matched to exactly how their owner swings.

I’ll just cut down a set for my kid; that’s good enough.

Earl Woods, Tiger’s father, has probably spawned more fantasies in the minds of young fathers than the last 100 issues of Playboy Magazine. Beats there the heart of a father that didn’t quicken when he saw Tiger hugging his father after winning his first Masters in 1997? Yet, despite all that, there is one thing that Earl has consistently said that seems to get consistently lost in the hoopla: “I always made sure that Tiger had clubs that fit.”

Let me put it this way. If you want to make dead certain that your little Tiger or Annika will develop a swing that has no chance of succeeding, all you have to do is cut down a set of your clubs and give them to them. They will be too heavy, too stiff, the wrong loft, the wrong lie, and probably the wrong length. Other than that, they will be just what the kid needs to develop a great swing … for cutting firewood.

Should you perhaps cut one down just to find out if he or she will enjoy taking cuts at a golf ball? Sure, that makes sense, although you might first try to hunt for a single junior club these days for $5 to $10 at a used sports equipment store. As soon as you hear them ask for another bucket and complain about leaving the range too soon, that’s the time to get them some proper clubs which are fit- ted to their size, strength, and athletic ability.

Since 2000, there are a couple of companies who have made a real niche for themselves in offering good quality premade junior sets. Lofts are friendly, shafts are more flexible, weights are a little lighter, and grips are smaller. They offer the sets in pre-made categories of “age 5–8” and “age 9–12” with the sub- stantial difference being their lengths, judged on the basis of average heights for kids in these two age groups.

The only drawbacks to the premade junior sets may be their price and the possibility that your junior happens to be outside the “national average” for height for their age from which the standard lengths of these sets are created. Thus, we come back to your local professional clubmaker who can custom build junior a set as well. And don’t panic about that “custom built” part. It’s been my experience that the vast majority of clubmakers do not charge prices for their junior clubs that come even close to the prices you would pay for the premade premium branded junior sets found in retail golf shops.

You have to resist the temptation to buy clubs that are too long with the expectation that they will “grow into them.” They might well do that, but if they are too long, you are forcing them to hit with something that may very likely cause them to develop a bad swing just to handle the longer length; and you know how hard it is to UN-learn that bad swing.

If that means you need to get them a new set every year or two, get over it. As long as your kid is really into the game, it’s a better deal than those tap-dancing lessons you sprang for, not to mention the $125 glow-in-the-dark basketball shoes they just had to have (this month anyway). You’re giving them a gift that will literally keep giving for the rest of their lives, long after you’re gone. That’s no small thing. Besides, it’s a small price to pay for watching your son walk up the eighteenth fairway at Augusta with a 12-stroke lead, or your daughter take that dive into the pond at the Dinah Shore, right?

 

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