November 19, 2017
|Timing Is Everything|
By Jim McNaneyEvery year about this time I sit down to write a column imploring golfers to keep playing though the fall months. Not this time.
Instead, I would like to take this time to ask golfers to take a look in their bags. Use the fall and the winter to invest in new equipment because if your driver is more than three years old... you're missing out. If your irons are older than five years old... you're missing out. If your wedges are more than a year or two old... you're missing out.
What exactly are you missing out on? Technology.
I know it seems like every six months manufacturers are touting the latest and greatest innovation that is "guaranteed" to save you strokes. The fact of the matter is, every couple of years or so, those manufacturers do come up with something new that really will improve your game.
Now I am not here to promote any specific brand or even a type of club. What I will do is make the case that the time to make the change is NOW.
Over the years I have had this conversation with all of my students. The most common reaction is, "I was thinking of getting a new (fill in the blank), but I think I'll wait until spring." The problem with this thinking is that there is an adjustment period with any new club and if you really want to get the most out of the new equipment, you need to know what adjustments need to be made.
Let's say, for instance, you want to get a new set of irons. If you have been properly fit (which I'm sure you were... right) those clubs will most likely have a different set of yardages than your old ones. Wouldn't it make sense that if your new clubs went farther, you would want to take the time to dial in those distances? If your goal in buying those new irons was to hit more greens, not knowing how far they go, on average, makes attaining your goal more difficult.
If I had a dime for every time a student got new clubs in the middle of the season and told me, "I'm hitting these great, but I'm not scoring any better because I keep missing greens because I don't know what club to pull," I would not have to worry about how to pay for my kid's college.
Think about it, when do you see the TOUR players changing clubs? Usually it's in the offseason. Except on rare occasions, most professionals make major changes to their equipment when they are not in competition. If they wait until their scores don't really count, why would you try to make a change when you are entering scores for your handicap, or worse, when you are betting $20 with your buddies?
So what clubs should you change and how should you prioritize?
First, look and see how old your woods, irons, wedges and putter are. If you driver is over three years old, it's time to take a look at the new offerings. Improvements in how they are weighted, where the center of gravity is and even how to adjust the lofts have all changed. If your irons are over five years old, all of the changes for the driver apply to you as well. On top of that, the groves on irons wear down over time (especially if you play forged clubs). If your groves are worn, controlling you ball flight becomes increasingly difficult.
Don't forget about the wedges. Not only do groves wear out, but also since most people use wedges more frequently, they wear out faster. The best advice is to change your wedges every year or two. You might not have to get a new type or brand; you may just need to get new versions of what you have. If you do change your irons, it is imperative to look at your wedges too. The lofts on the new irons might be different than your old clubs and thus your gapping in your wedges will be off as well.
As you can see, changing equipment is not just going into a store and buying what looks or feels nice. Take the time to get fit by a trained fitter. Make sure you prioritize what clubs need to be replaced first, second and third. Be sure your gapping is correct between your irons and your wedges and most importantly, make the change to properly adjust to the new sticks.
So while I may never get Minnesotans to keep playing in the fall, I hope you will at least take inventory of your equipment and plan a strategy to make the change with enough time to make next year more enjoyable.
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