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Middler

When Your Technique Is The Problem, Not The Equipment

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After a happy 3 year affair with my Evnroll ER2, I started putting badly week after week and reluctantly switched to a Ping Sigma 2 Tyne 4. I putted well with it for a week or two, but found myself missing the same ways after a few weeks. Then I found some things in MY technique that seemed to be the problem. And yesterday I took both putters out on a practice green for a lengthy comparison, something I don’t do often enough, and found I was putting better with my ER2 again? 
 

Right or wrong what prompted me to give the ER2 another chance was a YouTube video that said if you can’t reliably make six straight 6 foot putts in a row (where you already know speed) - it’s you, not the putter - and you need to work on you before considering a new putter. That might be a little extreme, but there must be some reasonably objective way(s) to separate putting technique issues from equipment preferences - for any club for that matter.

There’s no shortage of discussion on new equipment and/or custom fitting. And you can always find a fitter who will recommend new clubs, even if you don’t need them, or they won’t even help. I have seen many players buy new stuff and vigorously claim to play better right away, but their HI soon ‘reverts to mean.’ I am sure it can happen with gross misfits, but I can’t personally think of anyone who plays much better in the long run solely from an equipment or fitting change. Our vanity, self included, does funny things. It's natural to refuse to admit when new equipment objectively makes little or no difference...

I replaced my irons two years ago, mostly because my previous irons were over 20 years old (Wilson Staff RM Midsize in like new condition). I love my new custom fitted irons, but I'm not scoring any better, and don't hit them any further once I account for slightly jacked lofts.


Why is there almost no discussion about ways to know objectively when your problems are much LESS equipment or fitting related and more your ability?

It seems to me some guidance on how to separate player ability issues from equipment issues would be the best place to start before buying anything. Has there ever been an article like that?

Edited by Middler
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42 minutes ago, Middler said:

After a happy 3 year affair with my Evnroll ER2, I started putting badly week after week and switched to a Ping Sigma 2 Tyne 4. I putted well with it for a week or two, but found myself missing the same ways after a few weeks. Then I found some things in MY technique that seemed to be the problem. And yesterday I took both putters out on a practice green, something I don’t do often enough, and found I was putting better with my ER2 again? 
 

Right or wrong what prompted me to give the ER2 another chance was a YouTube video that said if you can’t reliably make six straight 6 foot putts in a row (where you already know speed), it’s you, not the putter. That might be a little extreme, but there must be some reasonably objective way(s) to separate putting technique issues from equipment preferences - for any club for that matter.

There’s no shortage of discussion on new equipment and/or custom fitting. And you can always find a fitter who will recommend new clubs, even if you don’t need them, or they won’t even help. I have seen many players buy new stuff and vigorously claim to play better right away, but their HI soon ‘reverts to mean.’ I am sure it can happen, but I can’t personally think of anyone who plays much better in the long run solely from an equipment or fitting change. Our vanity, self included, does funny things.


Why is there almost no discussion about ways to know objectively when your problems are much LESS equipment or fitting related and more your ability?

It seems to me knowing how to separate ability issues from equipment issues would be the best place to start before buying anything. Has there ever been an article like that?

I haven't seen such an article, but my first assumption is that its the archer and not the arrow.  This is even more true when an old and trusty club becomes untrustworthy.  The club didn't change, so obviously its something the player is doing differently.  

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2 hours ago, DaveP043 said:

I haven't seen such an article, but my first assumption is that its the archer and not the arrow.  This is even more true when an old and trusty club becomes untrustworthy.  The club didn't change, so obviously its something the player is doing differently.  

Exactly what I'm getting at. So why aren't their articles to identify how to know when to work on you, and when new equipment/fitting will actually help?

I wouldn't be surprised if 80-90% of new equipment purchases don't translate to better scoring in the long run, once the honeymoon wears off. I can't name a single person who really got better (after the honeymoon) due to new equipment - except those who are replacing persimmon woods or very small volume drivers, old blade irons or a Bullseye putter. Large driver heads/higher COR, perimeter weighted irons and heel/toe weighted putters were a big leap forward, much of the tweaking is marginal at best.

Edited by Middler

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5 minutes ago, Middler said:

Exactly what I'm getting at. So why aren't their articles to identify how to know when to work on you, and when new equipment/fitting will actually help?

I wouldn't be surprised if 80-90% of new equipment purchases don't translate to better scoring in the long run, once the honeymoon wears off. I can't name a single person who really got better (after the honeymoon) due to new equipment - except those who are replacing persimmon woods or very small volume drivers, old blade irons or a Bullseye putter.

I think there will always be differences of opinion on this, I don't think there's a single straightforward approach.  It will often depend to a large extent on who you ask.  This forum, for instance, has a great interest in equipment, with instruction getting much less emphasis.  Consequently, I'd expect to receive more advice on changing your equipment than I would on how to improve your stroke or swing.  Other forums have a different emphasis, and you'd receive different advice.  Any "article" that might get written would almost certainly reflect the interests and expertise of the writer, so with multiple articles you'd still end up with conflicting opinions.

If I was to be one of those writers, I'd tell you just what I said up there, always look at your swing first.  And by "look at your swing", I generally mean get someone competent to evaluate your swing, either in person or through video.  Don't do it yourself, and don't take the shotgun approach of trying everything on youtube that "fixes" your perceived problem.

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I'm in agreement with @DaveP043 on this matter.  Equipment can give some advantages, but it isn't going to fix swing faults.  It might minimize some issues, but developing a consistent swing will go far further than any new club one might buy.  I'm a strong believer in fundamentals.  While I know that there are self taught golfers out there that have been successful, most of us will benefit from having lessons from professionals.

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I agree that lessons are probably a better investment than new equipment more often than not. And so does this https://practical-golf.com/buy-new-clubs-take-lessons/

I am not against fittings, but I think it's recommended far more often than it should be on most forums. Fittings are incremental gains if that, not a silver bullet.

Quote

Overall, I believe for most golfers who are looking to improve their performance significantly on the golf course, that your money is best spent working with a qualified teaching professional rather than buying new equipment.

While I encourage all golfers to get fit for their clubs, I would describe getting the right clubs as a refinement, not a breakthrough.

I can’t speak for all golfers’ situations, but I don’t believe that you will experience major breakthroughs in your scoring ability by upgrading your equipment. It could certainly shave some strokes off your score by making your errant shots not so errant, and enhancing your better swings a bit.

The reason why is because no golf club can fix fundamental flaws in a player’s swing. The equipment companies might tell you otherwise because their business model is built on golfers constantly changing their clubs.

They ran a poll as well:

If you had $1000 to invest in your golf game would you...

76%Take Lessons
24%Buy equipment

 

 

Edited by Middler

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2 hours ago, Middler said:

...a YouTube video that said if you can’t reliably make six straight 6 foot putts in a row (where you already know speed), it’s you, not the putter.

Holy cow, if that's the case my putting is downright atrocious lol.

2 hours ago, Middler said:

Why is there almost no discussion about ways to know objectively when your problems are much LESS equipment or fitting related and more your ability?

It seems to me knowing how to separate ability issues from equipment issues would be the best place to start before buying anything. Has there ever been an article like that?

I am right there with your thinking, and would absolutely love it if someone has some really objective ways to boil down root causes, equipment vs technique. Unfortunately I think it's a nuanced spectrum.

I did recently watch a YouTube video from TXG showing a client who'd gotten fit elsewhere and sent them the results to get a second opinion. The particular person's swing had a few characteristics that were a little unorthodox, the the TXG guys made the point that the fitting results were probably the best they could be with that current swing, but that his swing was going to be his limiting factor in his game. They recommended that he get some lessons and iron out some of the swing flaws before doing a fitting, as the results would likely change after making those swing changes.

That particular swing was pretty extreme, but I'd say every golfer belongs somewhere on the spectrum. I wish there were some more explicit measures that could point in a specific direction, as the lessons vs fitting decision is one I'm facing right now 😅

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This is a good topic. The other day I commented in another post about putting. (I think putting woes are discussed here in the forum more than anything else) The bottom line in my comment was that some people just aren't good putters of the ball and probably never will be. It's true, this forum is mostly about equipment and data. And even more data on top of data. Data isn't new or unique as it pertains to golf. It's everywhere if you're interested in it.

From a personal perspective my game improved a few years ago after finally deciding to do something about it. And that was starting with a good instructor and taking lessons over an extended period of time. Over a number of years I had basically played my way into bad habits and swing flaws. I knew with some work and time I could get my game back to a level I was happy with. I also knew this because I already had good basic fundamentals, reasonably athletic as far a golf is concerned, good coordination/balance etc, and in good general health and physical condition. I'm almost 65. The year before I had purchased a new set of custom fit and built irons. My clubs at the time were several years old and I didn't really like them anyway. Never did. I didn't think new clubs would be the answer. The lessons came a little later after I was finally fed up with the whole mess of the game I playing.

I've said it once and i'll say it again. For a whole host of reasons/factors some guys just never really improve their game all that much. Most golfers say they want to improve and perhaps even become fairly proficient* but they just don't ever get there. Some guys just don't get it IMO. Yes, I know that's harsh and I'm not putting anyone down at all. But it's the truth. This game requires a lot of parts to really play well. Owning a decent set of equipment is only one small part. The most significant and larger parts are within You.

*defined by Plaid as being able to score below 78 ninety % of the time on your home course.

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Nice post ^^, and I agree.

Practice and/or just playing more often helps anyone, at any level. With all else equal my handicap comes down when I play 2-3 times/week and goes up when I play once a week or less.

I also believe money spent on lessons is better than the same money on new equipment or fitting for 95% of players. I took a series of lessons from a pro two years ago, worked hard at what he told me to work on, and started playing better right away - that's the good news. The bad news (for me at least) is it appears I have to keep going back for lessons periodically, as my old bad habits or new ones will eventually creep back in. But spending on periodic lessons is still better than spending on equipment or fittings for most of us...

I guess I'd say I see too many recommendations for fittings first, and new equipment - and too few recommendations for lessons first (though there are some). Fittings are great, but way overrated for many IMO - I see examples almost daily. E.g. Unless your wrist to floor measurement is way off standard, fitting for club length alone is completely unnecessary.

Edited by Middler
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All you can do is fit for your length and arc type (right amount of toe hang or face balancing), and maybe loft. (Grip type, headweight, swingweight, milling, aesthetics don’t matter too much in my experience.)

If that doesn’t work... “It’s the Indian, not the arrow.”


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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There are various approaches to playing better golf and various ways individuals approach their games.    I personally believe that most people have a repeatable swing;  it may not be a perfect swing,  it may result in an open or closed clubface,  it may be over the top or way too inside,  but the swing generally repeats itself.  This is true for full swing and putting stroke.  When getting lessons players have options;  they can do a major overhaul or they can work to tighten up their current swing.  This may be dependent on the issues the player has, but there are options.  We can even see this with putting strokes players can work to improve their path or face angle.  The "drawback" to swing changes are that they require time to master and become ingrained.  In the interim or when a player faces pressure situations,  they tend to revert back to old habits.  

Another approach is to fit equipment to the players tendencies.  Fitters can control features of the club to do things like change the rate of rotation,  lie angle,  offset, and other design features to compensate for a players tendencies.  The advantage to this approach is that the player continues with their current swing or putting stroke and the results could be improved.  

The learning style and mindset (feel vs mechanical) of a player can also play into these choices.  The more mechanically leaning player looks more deeply into the numbers and works to make the numbers more consistent.  Whether they work to make them "perfect" or just optimize what they are doing the player can work to achieve better results.  Other players go based on feel and make adjustments based on what they see or feel.  

The potential problem with just buying equipment is that the design of the club can impact your swing and conflict with what you normally do with the swing.  Any short term improvements go away after the honeymoon period as the compensations that we made for those clubs revert back to our old tendencies. 

I saw a comment above that indicated they had never seen an individual get better solely based on equipment changes.  My putting was improved not be changing how I putted but understanding my stroke tendencies and fitting a putter to those tendencies.  When I started my path was biased to the left and the face was closed at impact.  Without changing my stroke, we picked a putter that resulted in a more open face at impact which resulted in the ball starting on my intended line.  The long term results were better startline and better green reading and approximately dropping my average putting by 2 strokes per round.   

Based on what I have learned about the putting stroke,  I am convinced that people can improve their putting (even bad putters) by picking equipment that matches their tendencies.  

In the end,  technique may or may not be the problem and equipment may or may not be the problem.  To get the best results,  a combination of lessons, fitting, equipment, and practice are needed.  A player can improve by simply practicing more,  by getting lessons, or by getting equipment that fits their needs.  Will those results be seen in individual rounds or will they only be seen when evaluating over the long term.   

While there are lots of ways to improve,  the component that isn't discussed is potential.  Players no matter how many lessons they take, how well fit the equipment, and how much they practice will only achieve a certain level of competence based on talent.  While I personally believe I could achieve scratch level in golf,  I don't believe I could get beyond that point.  For other players breaking 100, 90, or 80 may be their max potential.  

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When Your Technique Is The Problem, Not The Equipment...
Blame the equipment anyway and buy new toys...




Sent from my iPad using MyGolfSpy

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I firmly believe that good putting is a balance of technique and equipment. If either is poor, the results will be lacking. Typically, the term "comfortable" is used as to how a golfer should feel standing at address over a putt. If your not comfortable, something is up! For years, I felt my arms were too cramped when putting. I have somewhat long arms for my height and this means I need a shorter putter (33.5" is the sweet spot). I also putt far more consistently using a midsize grip installed 10* open! Prior to finding this out, I tended to pull everything. As for weight, I have a range that works, but I sometimes need to change from the low end to the high end when things get a little off. For practice, I really like to putt to a tee stuck in the ground as opposed to a hole. It makes my focus more intense because of it's small size. Goes with the mindset of aim small-miss small. When playing a semi-straight putt, I tend to pick a blade of grass on the edge of the cup instead of just the cup!

BT

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