The progression of technology has changed the world. Technology has helped the world and the people who live in it. New tools have given people more attainable information.
As for golf and golf instruction, technology has done the same. Technology, such as the Trackman Launch Monitor with a Doppler Radar System, gives teachers and fitters information on why the ball takes off in a certain direction; why the ball turns after it takes off; how the club should descend into the ball; the rate of which the golf ball descends; etc. More information also comes with more responsibility, though. People abuse attainable information; golf instruction is no different.
Technology affects two things the most: club fitting and golf clubs. Golfers should be fit for every club in their golf bag from the driver to the putter. Incorrect clubs lead to bad habits.
Fitting has changed drastically over the years. Ping, a golf club manufacture, used to club fit by having the student stand with their arms hanging to the side. The Ping fitter would measure height and how far the finger tips are from the ground. If the student was 6-foot, 4-inches with short arms, the fitter ordered steel shafts with 2-3-inch longer shafts than normal length. This student would inevitable have an over-the-top swing because they were swinging a club that was too heavy to control.
Modern club fitters, including Ping, use the golf clubs moment of impact with the golf ball and ball flight to determine the correct clubs. “The ball never lies.” Getting club fit does not fix swing flaws, but it puts golfers in the best position to succeed.
Many of the club companies give club fitters information and charts that help guide the fitting. Titleist and other golf club manufactures have fitting systems with various shafts and club heads that are interchangeable. The interchangeable clubs and shafts allow the fitter to try multiple variables.
Taylor Made has a new marketing slogan, “Loft Up.” This slogan’s main goal is to sell new clubs, but it has merit. The golf ball of today has less spin than the balata ball of the past. If golfers can launch the golf ball in the air, the golf ball will stay in the air longer because the golf ball of present has less spin.
Hitting a club with higher loft is especially important for those with slower swing speeds. Most women and older gentlemen should have at least 12 degrees on their driver and a shaft with a lot of flexibility. When getting fit, do not look at the shaft or the club head. Observe what the golf ball is doing in the air; again, “the ball never lies.” Let technology be your friend, and leave all preconceptions at home.
Most golf clubs manufactures change product on a yearly basis. I would recommend changing woods, irons and wedges every three to five years. Golf club technology improves every year, but it takes three to five years to see a drastic difference in ball flight and results. The golf ball technology changes as well. Try hitting the golf ball of today in the air with a 1980’s Persimmons’ wood is hard, if not impossible.
The moral of the story is keep up with technology and get fit. If you are a 50 handicap or you a scratch golfer, get fit! Go see your local PGA professional to get fit, and put yourself in the best position to succeed.
Todd Elliott is the PGA Head Golf Professional for Hideaway Beach. Todd is TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Certified as a golf professional. This gives him the ability to give golf specific physical screening to detect any physical limitation that might affect the golf swing. Todd is an active Student Mentor at FGCU; a volunteer with the First Tee program and was presented the 2010 and 2011 PGA’s President Council Awards on “Growing the Game.”