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September 2019

Two Operators, Two Questions

By Steve Eubanks

Marshall Paterson
Director of Instruction,
Rancho Vista Golf Club
Palmdale, California

Brian Sleeman
Head Golf Professional,
The Preserve Golf Club
Carmel, California

With all the high-tech data available now as part of club fitting, what is the single most important piece of data that a fitter needs to see? 

Paterson: That’s a good question. There are several, but the first number I always look for is spin. Once you see how someone is spinning the ball, you have a starting point and can immediately check a few other outliers to see why the ratios are what they are. Obviously, there are far more data points that need to be examined but once you have the spin, you can at least start to make an intelligent analysis. 

Sleeman: There is no one most important data point other than using a trend. With the variability of the average player from swing to swing, my goal is to fit them into clubs that will work the best for them most often, not optimize the single best swing out of five or 10 shots. In any fitting session with a launch monitor, you’re bound to see a few peaks where everything clicks. If all of the other swings with that particular configuration are below a more consistent standard, it would be a mistake to fit to the one over the many.

If you could put a piece of duct tape on the Trackman, what is the one piece of data you don’t want the client to see during a fitting?

Paterson: Oh, that’s easy: clubhead speed. Television has ruined us, because every Sunday guys can watch all the TopTracer data in real time from tour pros. So they see Rory McIlroy’s clubhead speed and they’re obviously going to be comparing themselves to him or some other tour player. Then (the student) is swinging harder than normal trying to up the speed rather than worrying about getting the right fit. 

Sleeman: I verbally share bits of data that will be helpful during a fitting and will brush aside requests for the full report on every shot. This helps the player avoid the natural inclination to try to “game the system” by altering their swing from shot to shot in an attempt to outdo the previous set of numbers. 

In terms of specific data points, it’s always interesting when asking a player what they think their carry distance is. It often deviates from the actual numbers. For that reason, I tend to especially avoid providing that number from shot to shot. I usually provide that information relative to how the other clubs performed (with a plus or minus) rather than give them the raw number. That focuses the conversation more on the club’s performance than that of the player.

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