This is the second in the PIIMP Your Game: The 5 Pillars of Better Golf series, in which we focus on the Implemental equipment aspects of improving your golf game.
When I returned to playing golf regularly after 15 years off, I quickly learned that my equipment wasn’t going to be quite what I needed. For one thing, it was 2019 and I still had Titleist DCI 990s in my bag – I noticed my slower swing speed partners hitting the same club I did into par 3s, and knew something was amiss. I didn’t realize how much iron technology had advanced, even though I knew how different driver technology was.
But beyond my clubs just being dated, I also knew my body had changed. I had physically developed from a scrawny high school golfer to someone who knew his way around a weight room. Of course, that newfound strength and the years that passed in my hiatus also resulted in a loss of flexibility in key joints – and none of this even addresses that my high school clubs may not have been too heavy for me then.
As I got more and more rounds under my belt and began practicing regularly again, I hit a number of shots that I just knew weren’t my fault. So, interested but skeptical of getting sold something that didn’t seem right, I decided to look into a fitting.
And let me tell you – golf after the fitting felt like cheating. No longer were approach shots off the toe winding up 20 yards short, they were carrying the right distance. After a few rounds of getting used to the new clubs, my scores plummeted. Golf was as fun as it had ever been.
But club fittings are only part of the equation – understanding the golf ball, club adjustments, and even what accessories will be most helpful will get you closer to your best – and most fun – golf.
Before we get too far into this, let’s recap…
What is PIIMP? The 5 Pillars of Better Golf
Physical – A long-overlooked aspect of the game, physical fitness is now becoming commonplace for many golfers. We’ll teach you where to start, or how you can make your workouts more golf-specific.
Implemental – This is just a fancy word for the philosophy of equipment, or implements, that you will use to actually play the game. Everything from your shoes to your ball can affect your game, and we aim to cut through the noise of the marketing-heavy language to tell you what you actually need to know.
Intellectual – Golf course management has long been talked about, but the recent acceptance of Strokes Gained analysis and usage of satellite imagery have created an entirely new era of golf course strategy.
Mental – I probably don’t need to tell you how losing your cool can negatively affect your scores, but I will – I’ll also tell you how to increase your ability to stay focused and prime your mind for performance.
Practical – ok, you will have to practice some, and lessons do help. But what should you practice, and how much? How do you know your instructor is helping, and how do you direct them to get you what you actually need? We’ll review this.
Golf Club Fitting
A common misconception is that you have to be *this good* to get fit for golf equipment, or that it’s expensive. In reality, you don’t have to be *this good*, and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
In fact, if you’re buying a golf club today – new or used – there’s no excuse to get an opinion on how well the clubs actually work for you. After all, getting fit for golf equipment will help in many facets, including:
- Improved accuracy
- Improved consistency
- Increased distance
- Better ball flight
- Increased comfort
- Reduced risk of injury
- More fun
Getting fit is a must for any serious golfer and the most amateurish amateur. Not only did it help me hit the ball straighter, but the increased predictability in outcomes (or, rather, the decreased variability in outcomes) allowed me to focus more on my on-course strategy and trust that I could achieve it. No longer was a miss on a spinny driver hooking out of bounds, it was staying in play in with my low-spin replacement driver. My new irons flew higher and faster even on misses. I could control the speed on my putts better than I ever thought possible.
Today, there are more options to get fit than there were just 10 years ago. You can enter a hitting bay with demo clubs at almost any golf shop these days, and the folks working there will at least know how to read the Trackman to compare your old and new clubs, and guide you toward a stock (or aftermarket) shaft that will be better than anything you could have picked out yourself. This typically costs nothing, or at the very least it’s free with the purchase of the golf club.
For the real serious folks, paying for the fitting in the first place is worth the money, though most are indoor fitting in a simulator bay, meaning you’re hitting off of mats. This can be fine, of course, but if you tend to have a steep swing the mats may negate parts of your true on-course swing. That said, you’ll still likely end up with something better than you’ve currently got if your equipment is aged or your swing has drastically changed. There are a few outdoor fitting settings available – the TrueSpec location in San Diego, for example – but those are few and far between.
Golf Ball Fitting
What’s the only piece of equipment you use on every shot in golf? The golf ball.
So why do golfers focus so much on their club choice, often overlooking the pros and cons of playing with different golf balls, perhaps even playing with randoms found around the course or purchased in the bargain bin? Well, there are a lot of reasons, but none of them are very good if you’re trying to lower your scores.
Anyone can benefit from a golf ball fitting, as even (perhaps especially) beginners have tendencies they don’t know how to compensate for. Grabbing warped balls out of the lake or the woods may be cost-effective, but it won’t help you hit the ball further or straighter.
The hardest part about getting a golf ball fitting is finding one – luckily for you, we discovered the Titleist virtual golf ball fitting and wrote an article about the experience. Other manufacturers have buying guides on their websites. Check them out to learn more about getting the right golf ball for your game.
One common misconception about golf ball fitting is that swing speed is the most important factor – this is not the case. Often a firmer ball will get any golfer more distance, but this should be balanced with your spin characteristics. Once you work through that, you can look at other factors like feel, durability, and budget without sacrificing too much performance.
It’s one thing to have equipment that fits you, but as we discussed earlier, bodies change and so does our golf swing. This is where, for those clubs that have legal adjustments built in, it’s worth learning how they work.
For your driver, you can adjust the lie angle, loft, and often even weights on the bottom of the club head to encourage a draw or fade bias. Check out our guides on adjusting the Callaway Mavrik and Epic drivers for more information.
For putters, you may be able to move or change the weight level itself to keep your stroke on tempo to help you maintain the pace in your putts. Tiger Woods and many others have used lead tape on their clubs to help adjust the club’s weight to their liking.
This is likely the easiest thing you can do with your equipment to improve your game immediately, but it’s often overlooked by golfers who assume the defaults are meant for the average golfer, and that they are that average golfer – but there is no average golfer, there is just you and your needs.
As important as golf clubs and golf balls are to your game, there is another category that often gets overlooked: accessories. What’s deceptive about accessories is that many of them are types of objects that are trivial in performance off the golf course, but could be having a huge impact on your game on the course. We’re talking bags, shoes, clothing, and even towels.
For example, suppose you like walking the course but you’re routinely getting tired on the last few holes. In that case, you can evaluate using a lighter-weight bag, carrying fewer items in your bag, or getting a pushcart to help conserve some energy. As a guy who still carries his bag at every opportunity, this was one of the most important decisions I’ve made in recent months.
If you often play in wet conditions, you’ll want to get a good towel (or three) to ensure you’re cleaning your clubs with something that can actually clean it, not just smear wet grass and mud all over the club face. Umbrellas and jackets obviously need to have similar performance characteristics.
If you’ve never thought about how a glove should look when it fits correctly, maybe look into that! After all, it’s what is actually going to be holding that club you’re using.
We could go on and on, and get into your apparel and technology (rangefinders, launch monitors, and apps), but we’ll save that for another day. The last thought we’ll leave you with is: are your golf even the right size? (Most aren’t.)
Getting fit for golf equipment is an essential step in improving your golf game, and if you’re stuck on a plateau in your performance, it’s a great way to find that next level. Proper club and ball fitting take into account your individual swing and uses that information to select clubs that are optimized for your game. This can lead to improvements in accuracy, distance, and consistency, and a more enjoyable golfing experience.
It’s important to remember that club fitting is not a one-time event, as your body is everchanging, so it’s good to get refitted every few of years (or even more frequently) if you notice a significant change in your performance.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced golfer, make sure to get fit for golf clubs to the difference they can make in your game. You’ll be glad you did!