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Contrary to what the golf marketing departments tell us, the word “pro” or “tour” doesn’t mean a thing to who can or can’t use a type of club.
Consider this: Golf magazine has stated on a couple different occasions (that I’m aware of) that Tiger has used Nike drivers that aren’t available in retail. Most “normie” drivers are 460cc’s, and “tour” drivers are 430cc’s. Tiger has gamed 380cc models…
That’s really what a “tour” club is. It’s stuff available to them, but not to us.
- lofts may be slightly different. “Pro” models may use whole numbers (8, 9, 10 degrees) while “normie” models use half-numbers (9.5, 10.5 degrees)
- “Pro” models rarely go over 10-10.5* (because, as we all know, real tour pros don’t use lofts higher than that… just don’t tell that to Trevor Immelman, who games an 11.5* driver)
- “Pro” models hover around 430cc’s, while “normie” drivers are at the 460cc max.
- Blade lengths tend to be shorter toe-to-heel in “pro” models by a few millimeters
- Offset, how far back the face is from the hosel, tends to be less in “pro” models
- Lofts tend to be weaker in “pro” models (a 31* 6 iron instead of 28*, for example)
So, what do you do? Three things:
1. Decide what clubs you like. You have to at least feel neutral to how a club looks. That’s why many are going away from the super-thick soles and toplines… on average, people can’t stand to look at them, so they don’t sell. If you like your clubs, you’ll have more confidence.
2. Make sure you can afford them, or at least, are prepared to save up for them. There’s no one price point that guarantees a club will perform well, and there are many options that you don’t see on Tour or in magazines because they don’t want to make us pay for huge marketing budgets.
3. Get whatever clubs you decide on fitted. This is key; regardless of what you choose, they’re going to perform better if they’re fitted to your body type and swing. The whole point of a fitting is to make sure the specs of the club allows you to hit the “sweet spot” as much as your ability allows, with what you determine is a good trade-off between distance and accuracy.
The Shaft, and the lack of a “pro” option
Technically, what you “feel” (AKA: the most abused term in golf marketing) is a combination of the swing weight (head heft), the overall weight of the club, the shaft’s flex, and where on the clubface you’re making impact.
Generally, fitters use your swing speed as a baseline, to find shafts that are in your swing speed range. From there, they use your swing tempo to determine if they should stay with the recommended flex, or move to something else.
For example, your swing speed dictates you use an “S” flex, but you also have an aggressive transition. You might actually want a shaft that’s stiffer than what your swing speed might dictate, to create a good “feel” during your swing and at impact. If your swing speed dictates an “S”, but you have a passive transition, you might want a shaft flex softer than what your swing speed would dictate in order to create a good “feel” at impact.