Once a proper fitting is performed, it's up to the build team to assemble and achieve the desired specs the golfer performed best with. This is no easy task.
It takes a well trained and experienced technician to build up what I call "A Balanced Set of Clubs". I'm not talking about balance in the traditional sense - what I mean is that every club is built to an exact specification with extremely tight tolerances that produce a consistency in the set makeup.
There are a number of factors that a club builder must address to create a balanced set of clubs, as follows:
- Loft and Lie
- Club Length
- Swing Weight
As you can probably guess, no one factor is more important than another if you are serious about building a balanced set of clubs.
An experienced builder looks for consistency for an installed grip size as well as sorting the grips so that all of the grips are the same weight. This helps contribute to a consistent swingweight when the build is complete. Grip sizing is extremely important, and unfortunately, this is typically the most overlooked spec.
The majority of golfers do not realize what size grips they are playing throughout their set. Terms I hear out there: “standard”, “midsize”, or I love this one, “just add two wraps”. Grips are no different than a lie angle or CPM; they are a measurement, a number. There is a very specific way a builder measures a grip. The figure to the right shows grips sizings for both men and women.
A shaft’s O.D. (outside diameter) plays a huge part in determining what size grip will be installed. The way we accommodate different butt OD’s in a set is sometimes adding more or less tape under the grip. In some cases, we may not use any tape or stretch the grip down the shaft a certain amount to achieve the desired size. In a lot of cases, we will use different ID’s, Inside Diameter grips to achieve the desired size. Some grips come with different ID’s in the same model.
A good builder recognizes this and knows how to match up the sizing throughout the golfers set.
Not every shaft is perfectly round or the same in diameter size. The tolerances in shaft diameters or butt O.D.’s usually differ +- .002” to .004”. I have seen some shafts differ as much as .007” to .008”. Weight sorting shafts is also a must in achieving a consistent swing weight as well as getting very good outcomes in frequency once the build is finished. The builder has more control dictating the final CPM of a shaft using a parallel tip shaft, which requires tip trimming and butt trimming.
Taper tip shafts do not require tip trimming, only butt trimming, so weight sorting each shaft is especially important for this type of shaft.
A great builder looks for a consistency in weight to help assist in creating a progression in the slope and gradient for the CPM's (Cycles Per Minute) of the iron set as well as wedges. As far as woods and hybrids, a builder knows how to manipulate the flex or CPM's of a shaft, so the golfer receives a club that is identical to what they tested during the fitting.
Loft and Lie
Once the builder is ready to address the loft and lie angles of the irons, they can find challenges in adjusting these specs. Cast clubs, in a lot of cases, can be difficult to adjust and the builder has to be very careful in the technique to ensure there is no damage to the clubhead. It’s been said over the years that cast clubs are not bendable. This is 100% not the case. All cast clubs can be bent, some more than others.
Forged clubs are generally much easier to adjust, but the builder also needs to be careful not to create marks on the club head with their bending technique. Forged clubs are usually a much softer metal, and a good builder knows how to accommodate these types of clubs. What we typically look for is a consistent progression in lie angle and loft angle of the set, based on what the fitter prescribed for the golfer. A very specific machine is used for this adjustment called an Angle Machine or Loft and Lie Machine.
The length of a club or set of clubs should also fall in a progression, generally differing a ½” between each iron and a ¼” in the wedges. However, this may not always be the case for every golfer we fit. Sometimes a fitter will recommend the golfer’s wedges be the same length or that they follow the progression of a ½” all the way down to the lob wedge.
When it comes time to build to these specs, a good builder knows how to properly weigh out the club heads so that the swing weights are consistent to what was prescribed. Length plays a huge part in determining what a swing weight will be as well as what the final CPM is for the shaft. If this is not addressed properly, the result will be a very inconsistent set of clubs. This can really hurt a golfer in achieving a consistent ball flight.
Swing weights should also be consistent throughout the set, whether the fitter or builder want the same swing weight for every club or they want to have a MOI matched set. Depending on the golfer's swing, a fitter may prescribe a typical swing weight for their clubs, but in a lot of cases, the fitter knows to introduce a heavier or lighter swing weight in order to get a better result in ball flight.
A trained eye knows when it is best to introduce swing weights that differ from what we as humans and golfers have felt for a very long time. This is where the fitter and builder work closely together to ensure that the customer is testing a set of clubs that can be duplicated for the final build.
The Final Product
I firmly believe that if a golfer has a balanced set of golf clubs to match up to a repeatable swing, the golfer will be much more consistent with better misses and a tighter dispersion, ultimately resulting in lower scores.