November 2009

GOLF TIPS FROM A PRO: The Proper Way (Part 1 of a 3 Part Series)

Author: Pete Popovich


Pete Popovich, Golf Performance Academy

In the past 15 years, the average golfer’s handicap has not come down (the average handicap for men is 16.1 and for women is 29.2). In spite of all the knowledge on swing instruction and how to fix the golf swing, as well as technological advances, the majority of golfers never achieve their potential. This would lead some to wonder “Why does my game, with all this instruction and technology, not improve?” A very large part is due to the fact that a vast majority of golfers are playing with clubs that do not fit them. The following is the first of a three-part series on club fitting, with this month’s article giving a broad definition of what club fitting is. In part two, we will discuss length, lie and loft; and part three will cover flex and frequency. Our goal is to help you have an understanding of what needs to happen during a proper club fitting and why your game might not be improving despite endless hours of practice.

Club fitting can be a very confusing endeavor for those looking to improve their golf game. The desire to improve is the catalyst that leads people to be fit for clubs. However, more often than not, their improvement falls short of its potential. The biggest reason for this shortfall is the club fitter’s lack of knowledge. Too often people try to utilize their club’s assistant professional, usually taking time away from the golf shop, to be fit. To truly be fit, it is recommended to consult a knowledgeable club fitter who makes his or her living doing so.

In the club fitting process, two areas need to be optimized: control and distance. In order to accomplish these objectives many variables must be considered in the club fitting process. In order to properly fit an individual, it is necessary to consider many variables besides length, grip size and lie angle. Some of these variables include: club head gram weight, true center of gravity, shaft weight, finished club weight, shaft flex, shaft kick point, raw frequency, finished club frequency, swing arc, swing tempo, club head speed per club, and swing style characteristics.

A true club fitting provides the correct information to the central nervous system. Our central nervous system plays a vital role in everything we do. Our ability to perform the golf swing depends, to a great extent, on how the messages are being received and interpreted. During the golf swing, the central nervous system receives information from the feel of the shaft, overall weight of the club, length of the club and size of grip. If the characteristics of the club do not match our individual physiological characteristics, the messages received from the club, while it is in motion, will be confusing and incorrect. The result is a manipulation of the club during the swing. The manipulation will vary from swing to swing, making consistency impossible.

If we break down the swing into three points or positions, position A is the set-up; position B is the top of the backswing (i.e. transition point); and position C is the finish. Messages are received by the central nervous system during the entire series of movements which comprise the golf swing. A proper club fitting provides a club that transmits the correct information through the central nervous system which then allows the individual to truly feel how the golf swing should be executed. A result of proper club fitting is a club that becomes an extension of the hands.

Often we hear the phrase, “I am not good enough to be fit for clubs” or “I must fix my swing before I get fit.” On the contrary, a proper club fitting will only enhance a person’s game, and a high handicapper will benefit from a true custom fitting at least as much as the single digit player and/or Tour player. True custom club fitting allows you to improve your swing and achieve your potential. For those who are “fixing” their games first, the reality is the more they swing with clubs that are not fit to them, the more they ingrain the swing flaws their clubs are causing.

Please visit us next month for the continuation of “Club Fitting—The Proper
Way,” as we discuss the finer points of length, lie, and loft. For more
information on golf club fitting and/or golf instruction with guaranteed results, please contact Pete Popovich at the Golf Performance Academy (843) 338.6737
or pete@golfacademyhiltonhead.com.

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DR. JEAN HARRIS
Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional, the highest status rewarded in the golf industry. She has previously been a Top 50 Teacher in Golf For Women Magazine and was voted Southeast Section Teacher of the Year by her peers in 2006. Dr. Jean’s passion for teaching golf comes from a long career in education where she was a college professor for 20 years. Dr. Jean utilizes golf psychology and various teaching aids during her lessons. She takes pride in working with the beginning golfer and developing them into players. She can also take the established golfer and make “minor” changes to help them with their game. Dr. Jean relates well to Juniors as well as Seniors where she has studied gerontology and has a degree in Adult Education. Dr. Jean offers individual lessons as well as small group clinics. She can be reached at (843) 540-1456.

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ROSE HILL GOLF CLUB
Rose Hill Golf Club opened in 1982 with Gene Hamm being the architect. The course re-opened in 2008 to rave reviews. The Rose Hill layout is set among live oaks with Spanish moss hanging from the trees, giving the golfer the true feeling of playing golf in the low country. The wildlife is abundant making for a nature filled experience.

The mini-verde greens are in excellent shape and the bunkers are some of the nicest in the area. The front side is straight forward with two short, yet challenging par 3’s. They are well bunkered with water coming into play. The most demanding hole is no. 6, which has a narrow fairway with the green surrounded by water. The back side is more challenging beginning with the very picturesque dog-leg no. 10 hole with water on the right off the tee and also left of a very small and well bunkered green. Hole no. 11 can be seen when driving on U.S. 278 and is a great par 5 hole. Water comes into play all along the left side and a large bunker has to be dealt with on your approach to the green. The entire back side has more dog-legs, water and bunkers.

Rose Hill’s practice facility includes a driving range, putting green and two practice holes over 350 yards in length. This is a great way to learn how to take your golf game to the course.

Rose Hill has very reasonable green fees and memberships are available to the public for even greater savings. There is also a full service restaurant, Cornerstone Too, available for your after golf food and refreshment needs. For more information, contact the Pro Shop at (843) 757-9030 or visit their website at www.golfrosehill.com.

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