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James,

 

Having hit a 'wall' where my untrained swing seems to have locked my scoring into a consistent pattern, I started on a mission this season to rework things with a goal of getting the handicap down into a range where I want to be (

 

Having recently gotten a chance to spend some quality time with a launch monitor though, I am beginning to wonder if some of my 'spraying' problems are equipment related.

 

Using the launch monitor, I find that my swing speed with my driver, hybrids and long irons all put me in the 'stiff' ranges, with my driver speeds approaching the x-stiff ranges (108-112). However, as I get into the shorter irons and wedges, those speeds come way down, though my distances measure about average with 150 yards being a 7 or 8 depending upon the wind. I also find that the results I get in the launch monitors rarely match what I see on the course.

 

The result of using the same stiffness across the clubs appears to be that while I consistently hit a very mild draw with my short irons and wedges, my long irons and driver tends to spray around.

 

As a part of my launch monitor experience, I picked up a TM driver (RBZ Tour) with a stiff shaft off the shelf, and low an behold it is consistently straight to a 5 yard fade, with a draw only if I deliberately setup to draw ( and even then I have to set up for about a 10 yard draw to get 5 ). Following that trend, I picked up some new hybrids as well, hybrids that probably don't fall into the GI/SGI category as the ones I was hitting and spraying all over, and they too have stiff shafts, and a much more consistent flight path and distance.

 

Given that, what I am wondering, is if you have any opinions or suggestions with regards to using two different shafts as you you progress through the clubs. Swinging the stiff shafts, I find that I may give up 3-5 yards, but 3-5 yards longer on the second shot from a fairway lie is far preferable to being closer from the 1st or 2nd cut (or the trees).

 

I know that I have a slightly off kilter swing in that I use a short backswing to avoid aggravating a shoulder that has long standing damage that can only be repaired with surgery that isn't really justified for a recreational athlete that spends most of his hours flying a desk (and a 16 layoff from working at said desk is a non-starter on the surgery), and I suspect that impacts things a good bit as well.

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I'll be anxious to read James' answer but my pro uses a stiff shaft in his 3 wood and long irons and tour stiff in his other clubs. I think it's more common than one would suspect. I use a stiff shaft in my 5 wood, 4 and 5 hybrids so that I can flight them down a bit in the wind. I also notice that more and more touring pros do what I do - they have blades up through their mid-irons but use a cavity back for their 4 and 5 iron.

 

You have to use what works for your game.

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I know that for me I learned in a real hurry that I can over power some shafts and other shafts overpower me. When I over power the shaft it tends to flip the head closed and create big hooks, cut shoots where my wrists are held wide open I could sometimes feel shaft twisting through the hitting area and watching the ball flight go dead straight or even baby draw 1 or 2 yards.

 

The minute i stepped into an X it got stable and I could work the ball the way I wanted to. Now where a shaft can over power me is really in feel, I tend to over swing on shafts that feel harsh / boardy on my normal load pattern. On some rare cases i have felt the shaft stay wide open on some shots that I had ripped my wrists over to hit a power draw, ended up being a straight shot or slight push.

 

Finding a shaft that is stable in all situation for your game can be very tricky, espesually when trying to maximize spin rate as well. You can over do it and get too stiff of a shaft which in return tends to lead people to over swing and swing ever harder causing the spry effect to be worse.

 

That is just my personal experience, not really an answer one way or another, fitted equipment takes one variable out of the equation when trying to get better at this game. My set is "built like you play on tour", so I have no reason or excuse for a poor shot in terms of my equipment.

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Sorry to disagree with you here shambles but I'm going to - touring pros don't try to hole every shot and there's a reason why - Pins don't often or always reside in the middle of the green - they are normally tucked on one side or another, near some sort of trouble or another - Even at 100 yards it's pretty rare that I'll go directly at a pin - I'm normally looking to put it in a position to leave a makeable putt - I like 100 - great number for me as are 85 and 70 - those are my prefered numbers to lay up to.

I want to touch on this a bit more, before I get to my question. A lot of people underestimate how much of this goes into course management. Most people (myself included) get caught up in the management off the tee and not paying enough attention to placing the shot on the green. The only time I will fire at a pin is if it is towards the middle and the green is fairly flat; most of the time 20' below the hole is better than 4' above it. If I get the ball inside 4' on a tight pin or undulated green, I've most likely made a mistake. For example, on the course I play the most, the 4th hole is a 198yd par 3 uphill, with a deep bunker in the front that runs about 3/4 of the width of the green; I ALWAYS play to the green left of the bunker. I know the chances aren't great, but they are a lot higher for me holing that putt for birdie, than holing one from that bunker for birdie; I would say from that position I make par 90% of the time and I've only parred it once from that bunker, due to an absolutely perfect bunker shot. Just something to think about.

 

Now on to my question.

 

James, I hit the ball rather high with my irons. I don't take much of a divot with anything, yet I can still spin everything from a 8i on up on the green, so I know I'm hitting the ball crisply. Could it be that I need stiffer shafts? I have a 117mph driver swing speed and I was fit into DG S300's. I've been mulling going to the X100's or PX 6.5's, but I don't want to drop the money if it isn't going to have the affect that I need it to. I've tried some cheaper shafts in XS, but didn't have any different results, but that could have been due to the quality of the shaft (they were FST Pro 125's).

 

Thanks in advance.

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And unless I'm mistaken none of us are Tiger or anyone else on tour - Often times they have lines of approach that are far different because they put more spin on the ball - at least than I do. That's the advantage to spin.

 

I can't agree with the blanket statement that tells an amateur golfer to fire away at the pin all the time - you have to know your tendancies and play to the closest safest spot, occasionally that is the area around the pin and when it is we have a green light. Also one hopes that the spot gets closer to the pin the closer you get to the green but as we know that's not always the case. :angry:

 

 

Obviously, if the shot is truly beyond you, it's always better to shoot for what you can handle. The question is, did you actually determine by trying on practice days, or did you just take the common wisdom as biblical. If you have a reliable carry and are aware of your roll out, the shot should be reasonably safe and you just need to identify the right landing area. Reading the green is not restricted to those guys who are already on the green. Further, one should also read the immediate surroundings of the green in case landing outside and bouncing or rolling in is a viable option.

 

Limited skills does not excuse one from thinking his way through the round. It's all the more important to think your way through every stroke if you have very countable skills, and then work on expanding those skills at the range. Thus, when you look at a green that is within range, smart play would be to look for the safest way to send the ball towards the hole that is well within your skill level. The shot need not be fancy but it should be as well within as your skill level as you can find.

 

 

Shambles

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Question for the pros: Lately my biggest issue seems to be with gripping too tight. This usually rears its ugly head on the first tee and sometimes stays atound for 3 or 4 holes When I grip to tight the club face comes through open and I can't close the face in time. This really determines whether I have a good round or not. It can even change from hole to hole. Any drills or tips or unique ways to make sure I'm gripping the club lightly. I need a drill that can become second nature, something I don't have to think about.

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@dru_ thanks for the questions - here's my thoughts.

To answer your question directly, I don't have a problem with a player using any combination of shafts as long as they are working.

To not answer your question directly, I think you may be focusing a bit too much on this equipment stuff if you are an 18 handicap. I know that you said that you practiced your short game. Practice it more. I know this probably isn't what you want to hear but in my experience it's the truth. Until you are getting up and down consistently, making a high percentage of your putts inside 8 feet, and 3 putting only once every few rounds I won't be satisfied. At an 18 handicap I would bet that you are getting around most greens in regulation - it's what is happening after that that is causing your scores to be what they are.

Also, what kind of launch monitor are you using? Who is operating it? I've seen all too many occasions where inaccurate launch monitor data (or the mis-interpreation of it) has led players to being improperly fit for equipment. If you're using a budget launch monitor I would be careful reading too much into the data. Also, there is a lot of powerful technology out there today but it's only as good as the person using it. Make sure you are working with somebody who has a thorough understanding of the numbers that are popping up on the screen.

Hope this helps - let me know if you've got any other questions!

 

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@JBones Fantastic question! Here's my thoughts:

I was actually in the same boat a few years back. I hit it it fairly high, and I had the Dynamic Gold S300 in my irons for quite some time. After some experimenting with different options I made the switch to the X100 and it has definitely helped me control (and flatten) my trajectory and also tighten my shot pattern.

I tested some Project X shafts as well, but I've always found step-less shafts to have a muted feel that I just don't like. Not to say they're bad golf shafts, they're just not for me.

Finally, do you have access to a golf shop or pro who has an interchangeable shaft fitting system and a launch monitor? I would highly recommend finding one and hitting all the shafts you can before you dump money into re-shafting. Dynamic Gold (X100 or even S400), Project X, and even KBS Tour are all great shafts you just have to find the one that fits your swing best.

 

Let me know if you have any other questions!!

 

 

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I'll be anxious to read James' answer but my pro uses a stiff shaft in his 3 wood and long irons and tour stiff in his other clubs. I think it's more common than one would suspect. I use a stiff shaft in my 5 wood, 4 and 5 hybrids so that I can flight them down a bit in the wind. I also notice that more and more touring pros do what I do - they have blades up through their mid-irons but use a cavity back for their 4 and 5 iron.

 

You have to use what works for your game.

 

 

 

I completely agree - you have to use what works for your game. I failed to mention that I have a standard stiff shaft in my driver (although it's an 80 grammer), an X-Stiff in my 5 wood, and Dynamic Gold X100s in my irons. wink.gif

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Question for the pros: Lately my biggest issue seems to be with gripping too tight. This usually rears its ugly head on the first tee and sometimes stays atound for 3 or 4 holes When I grip to tight the club face comes through open and I can't close the face in time. This really determines whether I have a good round or not. It can even change from hole to hole. Any drills or tips or unique ways to make sure I'm gripping the club lightly. I need a drill that can become second nature, something I don't have to think about.

 

Great question. Tension is the #1 reason why amateur players hit poor shots so you're not alone. When you grip the club tightly you are probably trying to "hit the ball" instead of "swing the club."

 

Grab your driver in your right hand and just swing it. Feel the weight of the clubhead. Feel the momentum it develops on the downswing. Don't try to control it. Let it swing. Your hands and arms have almost no business doing anything in the golf swing except making sure the club doesn't go flying. If you use your bigger muscules (hips, core, shoulders) to create the motion of the club you should be able to reduce the tension in your hands and arms.

 

If it was easy they wouldn't call it golf. Keep up the hard work and Let me know how it goes!! biggrin.gif

 

 

 

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Shambles - love you - If you look you'll see my handicap listed here is a 3 but actually I'm lying - since then my index has dipped to 1.8 which puts my handicap at 2 on the courses that I play - Given that I drive the ball 240 I'm not over powering the course so I'm thinking I have some game inside of 150 - I'm not overly impressed by it but when I look online my handicap index puts me in the top 2 to 3 percent of all golfers so it's probably better than I thik. Obviously I don't have a touring pro's game but I have a pretty reasonable game - again it's nothing that impresses me, in fact I'm embarrassed by how many bad shots I hit and how it turns out when the scores get added up sometimes. I think my biggest strength is that I don't fritter away strokes by doing stupid things like shooting at pins when a slight miss could net a bogey as oppossed to leaving a 12 to 20 footer on the safe side that might bring a birdie and will always bring a par.

 

Do what you want, shoot at sucker pins - God knows I have lots of friends that do that all the time - doesn't bother me - it's their game and their score card not mine. I'll always suggest what I would suggest for anyone if they want to know how I shoot the scores I do - always play to the safe part of the green - if the pin happens to be on it then you can go hunting. I'll also always put in the oppossing viewpoint if someone is suggesting that guys with 18's shoot at pins - I don't think it's a wise idea most of the time.

 

I do have a question for James that has to do with coming back from an illness. I've not been able to play for 3 weeks because of pneumonia. I lost about 12 lbs during that time. I hit a few balls on the 4th, maybe 20 to 25 and the doctor cleared me to play the next day so I played 9 after work on friday. I was very weak, hit several really ugly shots left. Went to the practice green on Saturday and hit 100 pitches and chips and then putted for a while as well. Hit balls again today (about 50 or so before I started to feel tired). I hit the ball much, much better except for with my middle irons (6 and 7) which still were going low left and short - In fact I was hitting my 8 iron, 7 iron and 6 iron the same distance 140 -

 

I hit everything else normal - is it just a matter of needing my legs more for those clubs and thus working to get that strength back. Is that a normal phenomena when you're weak and building your game back up?

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Here is a question that I think everyone here can relate to regardless of skill level. I personally find the hardest thing to change and make it feel natural is the grip, particularly my left hand (top hand) grip in terms of getting it stronger on the grip without death gripping it.

 

I am currently attempting to get a slightly stronger grip as over the years my left hand has gotten weaker and weaker thanks to my Ben Hogan like swing over the years. Since changing my swing to have more elevation and getting my arms closer together this also changes the rotation in my body and arms into impact, I no longer have to really worry about a snap hook too often my current shot shape is a power cut or baby cut, very playable shots.

 

However, I do still want the ability to work the ball right to left draw, I have notice I have to swing WAY inside to out to draw a ball on my current grip alignment and sometimes it turns into a push or push cut, any two way miss is going to be terrible. When I turn my left hand a little stronger I feel I am going to hook the ball off the planet and sort of hold onto the release of the club, I can't hit a full natural release draw right now but I can still play that cut in the mean time.

 

I have been able to make the change and see good results on the range, but anytime I think about it on the course i get the Tiger Woods fear of the left side of the course. This results in a bad sequenced swing a lot of times I make good enough contact to get away with it but not the result I really want for the level I am trying to get to. I don't mind playable misses but REAL ugly playable misses can easily turn into a not so playable miss in a hurry.

 

James or whatever pro wants to answer this question, what recommendations do you have for changing the grip position and getting a natural feel for it on the golf course?

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Jmiller,

 

Just asking a clarification. When you say your left hand has gotten weaker, do you mean physically weaker or positionally weaker ? Frankly, I've never known anybody whose hand naturally got positionally weaker, but then it's not the kind of thing we would talk about over snacks and cold ones. Physically weaker I can sympathize with. I just got my left hand operated on and I can't grip for much weight these days, which I never expected to happen.

 

 

 

Shambles

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The reality is we're all getting older Shambles - expect the unexpected! :(

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So much for my epiphany. I hit my driver a bunch on the range and just couldn't get a reliable flight. I'm honestly thinking about hacking it from 44 7/8 down to 44 1/2 and trying that. I cut my 3 wood at 43" (shorter than most standards) and I can hit it up a gnat's ass.

 

I'm going to video my swing face on, DTL and a few other views and if I don't see what's causing the erratic directionality, I'm going to post them here and see what comes up. It's killing me not to hit it well because my driver is my most reliable club, or used to be. I'm fine playing 3 wood 265 and if I need to a low boring draw that runs out to 275, but on the longer par 5's it makes it tough to get home in 2, and that's where I gain strokes on the course. I can still pound the driver 295-300 but have no clue where it's going.

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Jmiller,

 

Just asking a clarification. When you say your left hand has gotten weaker, do you mean physically weaker or positionally weaker ? Frankly, I've never known anybody whose hand naturally got positionally weaker, but then it's not the kind of thing we would talk about over snacks and cold ones. Physically weaker I can sympathize with. I just got my left hand operated on and I can't grip for much weight these days, which I never expected to happen.

 

 

 

Shambles

 

positionally weaker. My V started my golfing career at my right shoulder then went to my right collar bone, then my right ear, now it sometimes gets to my chin or even pointing at my left ear which is super weak.

 

Ben Hogan over his career become a weaker and weaker golf grip to keep from snap hooking it, by weakening the grip with a one plane swing like hogan had it eliminated the left side of the course espesually when he pulled through impact with his left hand, he would bow out the left wrist to compensate the weak grip position for a draw.

 

In short I need to take my super weak grip with the V pointed at my left ear or my chin and get it pointing at my right ear to my right collarbone again.

 

The reason I said this is a hard change is that on the course when I know it is in a good position, it feel very awkward and like I am going to snap hook it off the planet, my old swing would snap it off the planet but the newer one produces a baby draw, I just have to learn to trust it somehow. I can still hit a baby cut with the strong grip as well on the range, it is a matter of taking it to the course and feeling the proper position and not second guessing it.

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I can hit what ever you want on the range - on the course it's draws or hooks - usually draws - If I'm in huge trouble I can hit a slice -

 

 

Fades? We don't need no stinken fades. (Actually I'd kill to be able to hit a fade with some sort of consistency on the course when it counts.)

 

Guess it won't shock you that I have a fairly but not ridiculously strong grip.

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positionally weaker. My V started my golfing career at my right shoulder then went to my right collar bone, then my right ear, now it sometimes gets to my chin or even pointing at my left ear which is super weak.

 

Ben Hogan over his career become a weaker and weaker golf grip to keep from snap hooking it, by weakening the grip with a one plane swing like hogan had it eliminated the left side of the course espesually when he pulled through impact with his left hand, he would bow out the left wrist to compensate the weak grip position for a draw.

 

In short I need to take my super weak grip with the V pointed at my left ear or my chin and get it pointing at my right ear to my right collarbone again.

 

The reason I said this is a hard change is that on the course when I know it is in a good position, it feel very awkward and like I am going to snap hook it off the planet, my old swing would snap it off the planet but the newer one produces a baby draw, I just have to learn to trust it somehow. I can still hit a baby cut with the strong grip as well on the range, it is a matter of taking it to the course and feeling the proper position and not second guessing it.

 

 

I hear you talking. Been there. I confronted the matter by doing those grip changes on course and watched my score climb for a while. However I also watched the ball and repetition gave me the confidence to do those changes with a reasonable expectation of the results. These days I adjust my grip to help a shot I want to make, but not all that often. Mostly when my game is already gone, or when I desperately need.

 

If you accept a high score for a while, you can learn more effectively in actual play. Your cap will probably go bad but nobody is paying you for that anyway and if someone tries to take advantage, the skill is still there. Just resting for the moment while you build additional tools. If the score truly belongs to you, you will be able to get it back when you are ready, with the caveat that it will be more securely yours because of the added tools.

 

 

Shambles

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I think that most of the time my left hand V points to my chin and maybe my right ear, I am conferrable getting it as weak as my left ear at times on short shots.

 

One thing I didn't consider might be the issue is that my club face is actually slightly open at address rather then square causing the ball to have a fade bias more then a slight draw bias.

 

Anyways, the question still remains really, what are the recommendations that you might give a player that is making a grip change to make it feel more natural on the golf course. I have been at night just gripping and re-gripping my club to the point where I know it is as strong as I would ever want to play it. Reputation seems to be helping a lot.

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This chat about grips has got me thinking about my own and I think it's about time for me to start using a reminder rib again. I guess I'll need to visit my club maker and ask him to install a set for me.

 

 

 

Shambles

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