It’s a question that I hear at least weekly from students when discussing being custom-fit for new equipment; “Would it be better to work on my swing before being fit for new clubs?” While the answer is certainly specific to the individual student, there are some keys that can help us determine which route is ideal for a particular student.
In many cases and especially with newer golfers who may need quite a few changes to achieve a highly functional golf swing, poorly-fit equipment can actually hinder the progression of changes and lead to frustration. For example, a 6-foot, 3-inch golfer who will eventually fit well into clubs that are an inch over the standard-length irons he’s currently playing may find it difficult to achieve a beneficial position at address and during the swing because of the clubs themselves. Consequently, the player will adapt to the poorly fit clubs and change his swing to play with the poorly fit clubs. Obviously, this could lead to significant mechanical issues over time and could make for a much more frustrating, time-consuming and expensive process than necessary had the golfer been fit properly early on in his Game Plan.
Other characteristics of the player’s clubs, if significantly different than ideal, can lead to the same sort of progression issues as well. For instance, if the lie angle of the set is more than a couple of degrees too flat and the student already fights a rightward curvature (fading, slicing), the clubs are actually serving to compound the ball flight problems. This could sabotage the results of a great swing that, if performed with properly fit equipment, may have produced the student’s first controlled and repeatable draw. Similarly, other equipment traits like shaft flex, club weight, grip size, or shaft length can all negatively impact the swing or changes being made to the swing when incorrect for a specific golfer.
There are situations, however, that call for swing changes before a club-fitting session would be recommended. For example, if a pupil is playing clubs that fit fairly well for length, lie and shaft type/flex but are a bit outdated and unforgiving, they can actually highlight poor swings and reward better ones more than if they were transitioned to a more advanced and more forgiving model on the onset of their lesson program. Nevertheless, in this instance it’s imperative that the communication between the student and the coach regarding equipment is open and ongoing, as distance and potentially dispersion improvements will typically be slower to recognize with older, unfit clubs than ones that are fit well and have more forgiving attributes.
Obviously, the decision of whether to improve the swing before being fit or to be fit to help progress swing changes more quickly is one that is unique to each of us and one that should be made with the help of an expert Coach. In most cases, probably 80-plus-percent or more, being fit for properly fit equipment is the most prudent option and can help spur on changes to the swing more quickly and easily than waiting would. In any case, seeking the advice of your local GolfTEC Coach is a great place to start.