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  1. Here's Part 2 of my review of the full-bag fitting process I went through at the Tour Van Experience at 2nd Swing Golf in Minneapolis. You can check out the Driver Fitting here. In this segment Master Fitter Thomas Elsberry walks me through hybrids, the challenges of being fit for this unique club and what a guy with a kinda goofy swing like me might need... As I learned in my driver fitting, I have an out to in, slightly over-the-top swing, and manage to keep my clubface fairly closed at impact. As a result, I'm really, really good at hitting the ball left. With a draw. That is when I don't slice or hit a fade. Thomas fit me into an X flex Fujikura Pro Tour Spec 73 shaft for my driver. Our next step was hybrids. I've never been fit for hybrids before, which may explain my love-hate relationship with that club. I've bagged hybrids ranging from the Adams A2 OS, the TMag RBZ Stage 2 to the Cleveland Mashie and the Cobra Baffler. They've pretty much all been impulse buys based on price. I've liked each one of them from time to time, but love? As Tina Turner sang, what's love got to do, got to do with it? All those hybrids are now second-hand emotions. “Hybrids? There's basically one style of head out there,” said Thomas. "Different manufacturers, but the heads aren't all that different. “A guy like you who hits left usually doesn't like hybrids much, because there's not a lot of toe weight. Think of the engineers who design these clubs. If 85% of the golfers out there slice, you're going to build these things to not slice. “Guys like you sorta get caught in between.” I told Thomas that I hit my hybrids okay this season – better than anything else I'd hit, but they tended to be hook machines. He asked me what they were – told him Cobra Bafflers. “Well no wonder, these are made for slicers. Maybe not the best choice for you.” “For a guy that hooks it,” he said, “you're probably not going to find a hybrid you like without putting lead tape on the toe, or you have to find a shaft that fits you absolutely perfectly, with the torque values you need.” Because I'm a Level 5 Club Ho, I also had a new purchase with me, a Nike Covert Tour 2.0 hybrid, set to 17 degrees (I had a gift card, there was a sale – I'm the victim here!). On the monitor I was hitting it reasonably well, but low – like hitting Yao Ming in the chest low. If he was standing to my left. I hit the new Titleist hybrid, as well. “You're hitting the Titleist phenomenally,” Thomas said. “The ball speeds are great and the launch angle is good, but the spin is actually pretty low for what you want a hybrid to do. “Right now you're at 2300 to 2800 RPM. That's not stopping on the green – that's ricocheting off it, so there's two things we could do: either change golf balls to something with more spin, or we can change your launch angle to help you hit it a little higher. We need to use either launch angle or spin to get this ball to stop.” We discussed trajectory a little more. “See the vertical land angle? – 35* is kinda the magic number,” he said. “Anything less is like skipping a rock on a pond – it's gonna skip and bounce. Above 35* is like throwing a rock in the air. “Your trajectory is on the high end – you start on the high end of the gray, but you start dropping to the bottom because the spin's so low. You're peak trajectory is very low with the 17* hybrid. We want it to spin and stop.” “Now a lot of that depends on the player. If you like hitting that hybrid off the tee, well then you want it to run.” A light bulb then went off in my head – adjust the loft of the club to the course you're playing! (D'oh!) I'm okay with a 17* hybrid that runs, since I'm using it either off the tee or for second shots on longer par 5's. With a 19* to 23* hybrids, I probably would want more spin and stop. “We can use the Titleist 915 HD head and fit you up with the right shaft,” Thomas said. “I can knock the spin down even more and make this thing a 2nd driver for you. It'll be easier to hit off the ground, too.” Then Thomas asked the Million Dollar Question: “How far do you want this to go?” Every fiber of my being wanted to say “as far as possible,” but I knew that was the wrong answer. I'd spent enough time with Thomas to know we were building a bag that works, and every club has a job to do. “Ummm, around 220 – 230?” Good answer, because that's what I had just done with both the Titleist and Nike. “We sell a lot of hybrids that, when a guy hits it, it goes a mile,” Thomas said. “He loves it, but it's supposed to go a number, not a mile. Like if your 4 iron goes 200, then your 3 hybrid should be going 213, not 240. I mean, 240 is awesome, but we don't want 240 out of that club. That's where building your set appropriately is huge. Most golfers don't do that.” My plan 2015 is to play 2 or 3 hybrids – a 17* and a 20* to fill the 210 to 230 range, and then maybe a 23* for the 190 to 200 range, although the idea of a long-distance hybrid instead of my Cally 12.5* 2Deep is intriguing. Thomas gave me some options. “For you it's going to be a weighting issue – how do we get this thing to not hook?. Titleist is good because it's adjustable,” he said. “You can open that face up. Same with the Nike. Always keep it in the open setting, and you'll probably want some lead tape on it. “And if you're putting lead tape on the toe, you're adding weight to the club. You'll probably want to cut the length a little to keep it in balance.” There are options for the hybrid challenged, as Thomas told me. “You'll need to find a hybrid that opens up the face because 80% of them you can't use because they won't do what you need them to do,” he said. “Part of it is your swing, but that's why a lot of guys have switched to driving irons because you can bend them flat – you can change the lie angle as needed. “Granted, they're harder to hit, but at least they now have a club that's easier to hit than a standard 3-iron,” Thomas said. “Or, like with your Nike irons, you could go with the Vapor Speed 3 or 4 iron head – those are the most forgiving head in the line. You bend it flat so you can't hook it, and there you go.” So, the bottom line is that we really didn't settle on hybrids at this fitting. Thomas did suggest that I could play an X shaft in my hybrids, so I will either try to swap that Nike at GolfSmith for something more appropriate, or find a shaft that will work. As far as a 20* and 23* option go, I really don't know what I'm going to do yet. The good news is that, in Minnesota, it really won't be an issue until late April sometime!
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