Clubfitters can determine if the lie and bounce are correct on a wedge, as on the club shown.
From the world according to Charlie Rodi, here is a collection of sage advice for properly maintaining golf equipment.
It is critical to achieve proper set progression. That is, the shaft stiffness should allow one club to feel like another club during the swing. The shot pattern, or direction, should be the same from club to club. Furthermore, the yardage gaps between clubs should be consistent. A few years ago, Rodi checked the irons of PGA Tour veteran Fred Funk and found that essentially he had two 5-irons in his bag. The 6-iron and the 5-iron produced nearly identical trajectories and distances. Funk was amazed at this discovery, but Rodi wasn’t. “I see it all the time,” Rodi said. “It is important to check your clubs at least once a year. They (loft and lie) can change through frequent use or travel.”
Irons that are too upright tend to produce shots that are pulled or hooked. Irons that are too flat cause the opposite effect – a push or fade. It isn’t just irons, either. In recent years, club manufacturers have switched philosophies – today’s drivers and fairway woods are more upright to reduce cuts and slices.
Most golfers don’t think of hybrids as bending, but almost all of them are made of steel and thus are easily bent. If a hybrid is producing a little too much draw, for example, flattening the club 1 or 2 degrees can alter the shot pattern drastically.
Grips are made in two styles, round and ribbed. Dating to the original Reminder grip from Wilson, ribbed grips have a ridge down the back. The purpose is to help the golfer place his hands properly on the club. Rodi points out, however, that the rib doesn’t have to be exactly in the back. “Bernhard Langer was famous for installing his green Victory grips so that the Reminders were extremely weak (creating a weak grip). He never wanted to hit the ball to the left (a draw or hook).”
Grips are available in different sizes that are larger or smaller than standard grips. The standard wisdom is that smaller grips encourage more hand action, while bigger grips do not. For golfers with arthritis or other hand problems, larger grips can make golf clubs much easier to hold securely. Softer grips are preferred by many older golfers.
When golfers visit Rodi for a golf club evaluation, he tells then to bring their entire starting lineup. “All the clubs,” he said, “even the extras that are in the car trunk. I also tell them to wear their golf shoes. When we get on the launch monitor (to measure swing and ball flight characteristics), it is important to create a real-life situation.
Some golfers attempt to change their own grips, but Rodi cautions against it. For one thing, it is easy for neophytes to stretch grips during installation, creating a different feel. For another, removing old grips from graphite shafts can result in nicks and gouges in the graphite material. Steel shafts are not subject to this damage.
Rodi has a few other observations that apply to amateur golfers: He said that switching balls can be detrimental to scores. “On a chip shot, one kind of ball may run considerably farther than another,” Rodi said. “Every golfer needs to be familiar with the ball he is playing. This unquestionably will save strokes. “I believe that ball selection should take place from the putting green out. In other words, you should pick a ball more for control. That includes putting – find a ball that feels good to you on the green.”
Rodi tells all golfers to avoid mats on practice ranges. “First, the ball usually will not react the same way it does on grass,” he said. “Second, all that pounding can alter a club’s loft or lie. Third, you can injure your hands and joints.”
Never go to a range and hit drives when the balls have sand particles on them, Rodi said.
“There’s a reason that caddies stand there and toss one clean ball at a time to their players,” he said. “Sand particles can make an imprint in the face and lead to a cracked driver. Sandy balls on driving ranges are a nightmare. You can get a little sand pellet buried in a scoring line of the driver face, and eventually the face can just bust open.”
Driver loft also has become a crusade for Rodi. Many golfers do not use enough loft, but he cautions that some players now are using too much loft. “Above everything else, I believe in finding the truth,” Rodi said. “I do not think golf clubs should be made to reinforce the flaws of any golfers. There are many fitters out there who do it this way, and I think it’s wrong.
“I feel strongly that a golf club should be built to encourage a better motion. That’s why I take so much time to explain to people what I am doing.”
Rodi, who has added a custom studio for putters from Yes! Golf, also spends a lot of time fitting putters to individuals. “You would be surprised,” he said, “how many golfers pay no attention whatsoever to the loft, lie or length of their putters. There may be no club in the bag that needs to be customized more than a putter.”
Perhaps all this advice is too much. On the other hand, Rodi believes that many contemporary golfers want to know as much as they can about their golf clubs. “This has changed,” he said.
“Golfers used to be kind of oblivious to their golf equipment. Now I see all kinds of golfers, from high handicappers to touring pros, who want to know everything.
These are my kind of people.”