June 29, 2021
What does ball hit really mean? In its simplest sense, ball striking refers to how well, or how often, you touch the sweet spot on the clubface.
What’s the sweet spot? It is the center of gravity of the club – a point on the club face where the maximum energy is transferred into the golf ball. Better ball strikers, i.e. professionals, occasionally miss this point, but are generally very consistent, meaning their failures are not penalized nearly as much as recreational golfers.
As for the amateurs, well, we have a knack for getting our money’s worth, and depending on the club and your handicap, we tend to consume all of the space available on today’s club faces. And because we miss high, low, and towards the heel and toe of the clubface, equipment manufacturers are constantly trying to develop new technology to make our failures less harsh.
So far they have done an incredible job. Golf clubs – irons, fairway metals and drivers – have definitely reached the highest level of forgiveness. What you can buy today is more forgiving than ever in golf history. Yet even with such grace, when it comes to our tendency to hit it off-center, we can’t help but ask ourselves – does all of this extra forgiveness help or hurt us in the long run?
Are we spending less time improving our swings and instead buying new equipment that will reduce the importance of a missed sweet spot?
It is sure to be an interesting conversation, and no doubt full of opinions. To bolster the perspective of a gear junkie like me, here are six things you should know about new gear technology and how it affects your game.
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Cleveland RTX ZipCore
Cleveland takes its wedges very seriously, as it should be, as it has produced some of the most influential designs in the past few decades. The all-new RTX ZipCore Wedge rewrites the way Cleveland interprets wedge design with a slew of new innovations designed to help players achieve consistency while allowing for more versatility. Which, in case you haven’t noticed, is hard as hell. (Well, maybe not for Cleveland.)
1. Customization is important
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Whenever you get new clubs that also fit perfectly, the chances are they’ll beat an off-the-rack set – regardless of your skill level. You will likely swing better too.
Here’s an example: if your shafts are too light, which can affect your pace, or if they are too long, you may have to swing too shallow, and so on. A bespoke kit can alleviate these issues and allow you to focus more on your natural swing.
2. Bigger is not an option
Take this into account with clever marketing, but a sweet spot really can’t be made any bigger. It is a point on the face that indicates the center of gravity of the club head and the maximum energy transfer occurs when the center of the golf ball hits it. All claims to make the spot bigger are related to reducing the distance / speed loss on off-center hits, not to increasing the center of gravity.
3rd Forgiveness is not always synonymous with accuracy
When you buy a new driver that comes with “extra margin of error” it really means you are getting some margin of error in terms of distance loss, not accuracy. It’s even possible that extra forgiveness will make your failures fly even more offline because you keep hitting it. Accuracy, on the other hand, comes from improving both club face angle and swing path on impact and generally still requires you to hit the sweet spot to avoid excessive twisting of the clubface on impact.
There are some head weight variables and shaft characteristics that can help improve your accuracy, but hitting it all over the course is likely more of a swing problem than a club problem.
4th Stay in your lane until you are ready to level upp
A new club or club can help you score, as long as you stick to the category that best suits your skill level and inclination to shoot. For example, if you have a high handicap, buying a set of forged blades is unlikely to help you and very likely can make you worse.
On the flip side, if you’re a low handicap and want to take the last couple of strokes off your handicap, a set of oversized distance irons probably isn’t what your approaches need. Stick to the equipment category that suits you if you want your clubs to work for you. And to speak of this good player again – that may mean sticking to a set of iron that is not new.
5. First modify your bag with a set of wedges
Perhaps you need the confidence boost that comes with carrying new clubs in your pocket. Or maybe you’re just bored with what you have and how your clubs work – a handy way to freshen up your set without going all-in is to start with a fresh set of wedges.
New wedges have sharper grooves (always a good thing) and are now available in a huge variety of head shapes to suit virtually every type of player. Case in point are Cleveland’s new CBX 2 wedges, which feature a hollow chamber design for improved distance control and forgiveness, and a Rotex-milled face for extra bite. Put a pair in your pocket and watch your confidence grow without putting a strain on your wallet.
6th Remember the definition of insanity
Changes can be a very good thing when it comes to your gear. And if you are not ready to try something new, you will never really know if you have the wrong club head with the right shaft or vice versa. You will never know if your irons are one degree too upright or flat, or if your handles are the wrong diameter. The worst thing you can do to your ball stroke and golfing ability is to hit golf balls with the same swing and equipment over and over and expect different results.
That’s crazy – in the truest sense of the word. If swing changes aren’t realistic, try some new clubs with the help of your local club fitter and see if a change can help you get better. You’ll never know for sure until you’re ready to try something new.