Find out what kind of technology — with professional customized service — we can provide at 2nd Swing to help you improve you game.

Technology: Golf Ball Fitting

Technology: Golf Ball Fitting 

The importance of golf ball fitting for your game and how one of the best — Titleist — does it.

golf ball fitting

Who knew your ball could be fit to your needs? A lot of people evidently. And our writer gets a custom fit and education on the process from a pro.

Since being on this “fitting kick” for some time now, I have mostly spent time discussing the various components of the golf club. The grip, the weight, loft and lie considerations, etc. I even think about shafts, but I’ll save that for another day. 

golf ball fitting

This is a pretty solid chart for golf ball fitting specs.

Today, I want to talk about Titleist Ball fitting. It basically translates to any golf ball fitting for that matter, such as Wilson, Srixon and Bridgestone, but we are using Titleist as a first-hand example. Several golf ball companies have simple smart phone apps now that also walk you through the process. 

Golf ball fitting really is as simple as it sounds: Find which ball you should be using.

(And, hey, maybe I’ve been using the wrong ball. If so, I’m calling that excuse No. 14 as to why I’ve gone from a 2 to 9 handicap.)

So I received an email recently from 2nd Swing telling me that they will be having a ball fitting session in Minneapolis, where they are headquartered, and that I should sign up and pick a time. However, these sessions are offered to the public all the time throughout the United States and beyond by golf ball manufacturers. Just look at their websites.

golf ball fitting

How Titleist rolls with its mobile golf ball fitting sessions — available to the public around the country.

It began with 2nd Swing’s professional fitters asking me just to start hitting balls to warm up before meeting with Titleist Golf Ball Fitter Jason Ng. He asked me questions about my game, handicap, how much I play, what kind of ball I currently use and what I was hoping to learn from this experience.

My response was, “just want to learn about the ball fitting experience and if I have been playing the correct type of ball or if I should be thinking about something different.” Once the preliminary interview was over, the discussion turned to the process of the ball fitting.

Titleist stresses the importance of the short game first. Not the driver and distance. I was impressed to learn that they would rather find me a golf ball that performs for me when I’m less than 100 yards from the hole, which is where close to 65 percent of the strokes we take come from, or something close to that figure.

golf ball fitting

Jason had set out a Titleist flag approximately 50 yards from my spot and asked me to hit the club I would normally take from that distance, without accounting for wind. I hit about 10 balls in and around the target. Next, Jason asked me to hit the same number of balls but with my 6-iron.

Finally, I pulled out the Big Dog — the driver — and hit the same number of balls. All during this time, we chatted about golf balls and playing golf and sharing stories. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and made for a fun session.

Once this was completed, Jason walked me over to the monitor, and we went over the results. They are shown in this video below:

What did I learn?

That for most of the irons — whatever iron you have — you should have a spin rate about 1,000 times your iron number. So, for the 6-iron, I should be spinning the ball about 6,000 rpm.

I reconfirmed my belief that my driver rpm needs to be less than 2,500 rpm, with a 12- to 14-degree launch angle for me to achieve optimal carry and roll on my tee shots. And I was not getting enough spin on my wedges.

One tip Jason had for me: Keep the wedges clean at all times. Grooves and the clubface. Even grass secretes an oily substance that can diminish spin put on a golf ball when hit. Think about how much that rate goes down when you have dirt in the grooves.

Another thing that stuck with me was when I asked about moving to a different ball is if I would see increases in distance. Jason told me that almost all the golf balls out there all travel about the same distance, and that the differentiating factor was the spin rate on the ball.

USGA regulations limit the speed at which a ball can leave a clubface and most manufacturers have reached that limit. What makes the difference now is the type of core, cover and dimple design that the different companies use.

golf ball fitting

This is a deviation from other tests that have been done with different golf balls. And, yes, I do plan to conduct and attend other ball fitting sessions with other ball manufacturers.

But a quick glance at various websites and periodicals all list the Titleist Pro V1 series their top picks. And this is for all-around performance. Nice distance off the tee, solid iron control into the greens, the ability to spin the ball on closer approaches. It has one of the key things I look for with anything golf-related: the “feel” of the ball off the clubface, how it flies to the target, and how it sounds and feels when putting.

golf ball fitting

And this is how Bridgestone rolls with its own extensive on-site golf ball fitting process.

So what was the recommendation? That I should stay with the Titleist Pro V1. I was then escorted back to the registration table where Jason handed me a sleeve of Pro V1’s and thanked me for my time. My recommendation? I think a golfer should experience as much outside information and assistance available to them as possible. Also, it’s a free fitting. Why wouldn’t you want to take a half hour out of your day for the experience?

What are your thoughts on golf balls? Which ones do you play and why? Is it cost? Is it performance? Is it that you’ve been thoroughly brain-washed into thinking only one kind of ball is for you? I’m curious.

And here’s a video of how Bridgestone goes about its business with exceptional PGA and LPGA tour pros Matt Kuchar and Paula Creamer: 

PING nFlight Gap Analysis

PING nFlight Gap Analysis

What is a PING nFLight Gap Analysis?

PING nFlight Gap Analysis

Living in the Midwest during the winter months and being a golfer can be frustrating and annoying. Sure, sure…you have golf domes, simulators — even outdoor ranges where you hit off mats into the wide open.

However, we know that it’s not the same. So what is a person to do? 2nd Swing Golf offers hitting areas at its Minnesota stores with the opportunity to hit the new toys. I’m positive that many of my fellow golfers work out and stretch to prepare for an  upcoming season, right? Uh, drinking beer on the couch and watching Sunday golf does not count.

What else should you be doing to be ready for a new season?

I posed that question to the staff at the Minnetonka 2nd Swing store. Their response?

“Have you had a Gap Analysis done?” My teeth don’t have gaps. I already own a gap wedge. Do I need a special one? Did they want to know the frequency of my visits to a certain clothing store? And how did that relate to my golf game?

Ever had a set of irons where the average distance between two irons was significant?

You had to swing really hard to make up the distance or choke way down with the longer club. This required lots of practice and knowing your own limitations.

Growing up, the rule of thumb for a set of irons was as each club got longer the loft of the club would decrease, and the difference in yardage was 10 yards per club.

At one time, I was told that typically the 7-iron is meant to carry 150 yards, which meant an 8-iron would carry 140 yards, 9-iron 130 yards and so on in each direction.

But the practical application of that proved to be wrong. Sometimes I hit my 7-iron longer. Many golfers hit their long irons the same distance, which is part of the reason for the growth of hybrids. The 10-yard difference in irons was not necessarily wrong, just different for each player.

A Gap Analysis, or “gapping” as it is called, is a feature provided by the complex PING nFlight launcher monitors, hardware and software in the hitting nets at 2nd Swing. By hitting balls with your own equipment, the computer program is able to calculate your average distance with each iron and the difference in carry and roll yardage between each iron.

That distance is your “gap” between irons.

PING nFlight Gap Analysis

The Process

The 2nd Swing clubfitter (Aaron Roth worked with me) asks you a series of questions: height, length of wrist to floor, hand size, longest finger (Remember, this is PING and this is how they roll when it comes to clubfitting.), plus your average distance with a 7-iron and driver.

Partly, this is to set up the computer program, but also to assess your knowledge of your equipment. Here’s the most important part: Be honest!

It is like going to the doctor’s office: The more honest you are and the more information you can provide, the better your diagnosis. If you tell the clubfitter that you hit a 7-iron 165 yards and then hit five balls and they only go 150, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

Check the ego at the door. Or it may be a case where you need new irons to get back to that 165-yard 7-iron. Either way, the clubfitter will be able to tell.

First, I hit a couple of 7-irons, making sure that I hit them just right — not too thin, not too chunky. Then I did the same thing with my 3-hybrid (18-degree), and finally a couple of swings with, ironically, the gap wedge.

Keep in mind, you are looking for your average carry distance and roll. This is one more reason to remember to always swing no more than 65 percent to 70 percent of your full power for more consistent distance and accuracy. Once that was completed, I had the rest of my club lofts’ input. From this information, a gapping analysis was completed and printed for me to review.

You can see that I have a serious gap from my 4-iron to my 19-degree and 18-degree hybrids. Part of that is because my original 3-hybrid is an older TaylorMade; the 18-degree hybrid is a newer TaylorMade RBZ, which comes with a longer shaft. 

What I found very interesting is that the calculated distances are very close to my actual distances. But you can see I have a serious yardage gap.

Here was the interesting lesson learned: It does not matter what the loft of the club is or how long it is or who makes the club. You are looking for the club that will more evenly cover the gap distance. So you don’t need to have all TaylorMade or all PING in your bag (Although the manufacturer would prefer that… and you can always custom order to the specs you need.).

PING nFlight Gap Analysis

Filling the Gap

After knowing the gap, the next step was to find the right combination of loft, shaft flex and shaft length that best allows me to fill the gap.  Aaron worked with me as we tried different brands with varying lofts and lengths. We ultimately found a Titleist 913 24-degree hybrid, but installed a shaft that normally works for a 21-degree hybrid (about a half-inch longer). This got me to an average distance of 208 to 212 yards. Now the gap from my 4-iron is only 13 yards — and order has been restored to my golf bag.

Results

I found the Gap Analysis very revealing. I had no idea my longer hybrids were bunched in distance so closely together. 

While playing, I probably didn’t even realize I was choking down or swinging harder to cover the yardage gaps. On the shorter irons, it may be a case of needing to adjust the lofts by a degree or so to better and more consistently cover the yardage gaps.  

Is this type of fitting necessary for everyone?  No.  A Gap Analysis is better for the golfer who plays and has played for many years. They play in serious leagues or weekend events where the difference in a couple of strokes is shop credit or crying in your cold beer on the patio (I’ve done both, more the latter.).  But knowing your yardages always can give you an added advantage.

There’s also a part of the printout you receive is a small form on which to write down your yardages and have them laminated. Now you have a handy guide ready to go when you play.