Shaving 3 strokes Like No-One's Business
(Written By: GolfSpy Tim) Finding new gear is like finding your woman, looks are normally the first thing that matter. In January at the PGA show I was walking around when a "gold" colored driver caught my eye. This was my introduction to the United Golf brand and Peter and Graham who are the designers behind Professional Golf Europe. I had no clue that this chance meeting would result in any real improvement to my golf game, but was I in for a shocker.
After the show United offered to take things to the next level and they arranged a custom fitting at The Golf Lab with Leith Anderson. Leith is a Golf Digest Top 100 fitter - aka, he knows his stuff.
Instead of starting with a launch monitor and watching me hit a 6 iron off of fake-turf, Leith had me meet him for 9 holes of golf. Leith got a first hand look of exactly how I play and where I struggle.
Wrapping up 9 holes (come on, there were 9 more to go...) Leith and I headed back to the lab where he set me up on his FlightScope launch monitor for some number crunching.
As we started Leith let me know that he wouldn't be fitting me for my exact swing today, but rather he would create the best fit that I could grow into - a new concept for me - in past fittings I've been told I was being fit for today's swing. Being fit for today's swing has backfired at least once in the past with a fitting that never played well on the course for me. Thankfully, Leith's theory has made a huge difference in my game already.
As I warmed up, Leith noticed my swing was a little too big and my grip could use some tweaking, and being Leith, he didn't hold back and he helped me adjust these on the spot - already on my way to adjusting from my end to get the most out of his fitting.
Iron fitting was straight forward - Leith had me use a Mizuno Shaft Optimizer to see some shaft suggestions and from there we started down the road of trial and error on the launch monitor - first some graphite shafts, and then quickly back into my comfort zone of steel shafts and finally landing on the Nippon N.S. Pro 950GH paired to the United SBC1 heads. Maybe the easiest iron fitting I've had, no fuss. The Nippon produced great results and is hands down the "cleanest" feeling shaft I've hit.
Cutting It Down To The Right Size Matters
Warming up with my driver Leith let me know he couldn't fit me "better" - but he did promise to fit me just as well, and to keep my drives in play more. To accomplish this Leith wasn't just looking for the right shaft, but finding the shaft that allowed me to create the best "s" shaped radar tracing in the FlightScope (you can read more about this on The Golf Lab's Blog). We ended up with the ATTAS Elements 6R MK shaft mated to the United PBD1 at 12.5 degrees (yes, 12.5 degrees - turns out, most manufacturers don't mark their heads accurately - read more from Leith about this here)
But Leith had promised to keep my ball in the fairway, so what was his big "secret" to accomplish this? He cut
my balls off the ATTAS shaft down a solid 1/2" (it really seemed like a LOT more at the time) and promised me this would help - we've heard this before haven't we?
At most fittings this would have been the end and I would have gone home and waited for FedEx, but Leith had another Ace up his sleeve and headed out to build my set, but not until he first introduced me to another Golf Lab team member - John.
John kept me distracted by having me try out the Focusband (the Focusband entirely deserves an article all it's own) as well as setting me loose on their SAM Putt Lab to analyze my putting stroke. The Golf Lab not only does custom fittings, but they also do very player specific teaching that I'd LOVE to go back and dig into.
Wrapping up the custom build in about an hour, Leith handed me my new set, 3-PW and Driver. I was a bit confused and asked about fairway woods - Leith told me I would be sporting a 5 wood, but that my performance with the 3 wood on the course suggested I could cut strokes from my game simply by removing it from my set. Simple yet effective solution - and not one most fitters would have been willing to tell me seeing as that means selling one less club.
The Next Morning . . .
With that, Leith sent me off for the night and told me to meet him again the next morning for another 9 hole round to see how this new set performed.
The next morning things started off well - within 2 holes I knew that the pitching wedge was my new best friend. It was like upgrading a rifle from iron sites to a scope. As the round progressed we finally found a few spots for me to hit the longer irons - somewhere I've always struggled - and Leith noted he would be cutting my 3, 4 and 5 irons shorter to help my consistency - and then did the same with my 5 wood.
Leith promised I would drop stokes and said he believed I could drop up to 4 strokes after this fitting experience - and he's a man of his word.
Going into this fitting I was a 17.6 handicap and STUCK - within 4 weeks of the fitting I had dropped to a 14.3.
So what made the difference?
Chopping off my balls and cutting my driver down got my drives back into the fairway, and getting rid of a 3 wood kept my ball out of the lake on #7, but in addition to that, I now have confidence over all of my irons. I almost feel like a sniper with the United pitching wedge, and I'm making more consistent contact across the board. In all previous fittings I've had, all of my irons were cut down 1/2" - Leith kept my United set full length except for 3-5. And the cut down 5 wood is a much easier club for me to make clean contact with.
Though I haven't been able to do thorough testing on a launch monitor, I'm here to say that the United driver is one of the most forgiving I've ever played.
Not only is United's driver impressive, but the irons are nearly as forgiving as any game improvement irons I've played - and to boot, they are much more consistent in the distance department with no hot spot.
Did I gain distance? No - but I cut strokes, and really, that's what counts right??
I'm sold on my United set right now and I have a feeling it will be a long journey before someone is able to force these beautiful art pieces ...err... ball slaying sticks, out of my bag.
We've said it before and we'll say it again, a proper fitting is something that anyone serious about improving their game should schedule asap.