This past Friday I visited Lyle Helland at Simply Golf in Calgary to have my golf clubs fitted for the upcoming season.
I chose Simply Golf because everyone I talked to in the golf industry unanimously agreed that Lyle is the most knowledgeable guy around when it comes to club fitting.
We got started by filling in a detailed form about my golf game. Lyle took a genuine interest in my game and left no stone unturned when it came to understanding it, what my concerns were, and what my goals as a golfer are.
Once I was warmed up, I hit some 8-irons as he observed my swing, my ball flight, and my swing metrics using FlightScope.
In order to establish a baseline, we headed into the shop to measure the lie angle (the angle between the shaft and the clubhead), lofts, and length of my 8-iron.
Reading the lie and loft angles:
Once we had a baseline established, we started testing if the lie angles on my irons were appropriate for my swing. This was done by placing impact tape on the bottom of the iron and hitting shots off a board. The scuffs left on the tape indicate how the club head interacts with the ground through impact. If a lie angle is too flat, the tape will scuff near the toe. If a lie is too upright, the tape will more scuff near the heel.
My irons scuffed towards the toe, and therefore needed to be bent upright slightly. Lyle made some adjustments and we retested. Low and behold, the scuffing of the tape was centered along the sole, and my shots felt flush. We repeated the process for my 6-iron. Based on the adjustments required for the 8-iron and 6-iron, he was able to adjust the rest of the set accordingly, and made sure the lofts were appropriately spaced throughout the set.
Next up was testing shafts.
Based on what he saw from my ball flight and the results on FlightScope, he seemed happy with the Project X 6.0 iron shafts I was fitted for a few years back. To confirm his observations, he pulled out a shaft frequency analyzer, something I had never heard of before. Lyle used the frequency reading of the oscillating shaft, as well as visual observations of the oscillation pattern to determine whether the shaft was appropriate for my swing speed and tempo.
Shaft frequency testing:
We went through the same process with my driver, 3-wood, and 5-wood. Turns out the stock shafts I had in my 3-wood and 5-wood held up to the frequency testing about as good as a moist noodle. Needless to say, we’re going to get those replaced.
Lyle was on a roll so we decided to have a look at my putter, which was probably an excuse to show off his fancy Scotty Cameron lie and loft putter machine, signed by Scotty Cameron himself.
I stroked some putts on the practice green as Lyle observed my setup, stroke, and the roll of the golf ball. He noticed that at address my putter wasn’t level — I tend to raise the toe off the ground a bit. This can make it more difficult to deliver the face squarely to the ball.
Using the trusty Scotty Cameron machine, Lyle bent my putter a couple degrees flatter to get it level at address. It immediately felt more comfortable — the ball rolled smoother without skidding, and after I rolled in several 10-footers in a row, we were both sold on the change.
Not only was the club fitting experience at Simply Golf fun, it was a great learning opportunity.
My primary takeaways from the club fitting experience were:
- there are no standard lies, lofts, and lengths for irons. For example, different brands can have varying lofts, lie angles and lengths on their stock 8-iron;
- lie angles have a significant impact on shot quality and direction. Too upright and you may pull the ball, too flat and you may tend to push the ball;
- shafts not only effect ball flight and distance, but play a significant role in a player’s ability to deliver the club face squarely to the ball. A player may struggle to hit the ball in the air and have a tendency to push the ball if a shaft is too stiff. Too flexible and shots may balloon too high, and the player is more likely to pull and hook the ball;
- a player’s height can be a misleading factor when determining length of clubs required. A tall player with long arms which hang low may not necessarily need longer clubs;
- getting a putter fitting doesn’t mean becoming mechanical with your putting. It is intended to fit your putter to optimize your natural stroke; and
- even if the physical improvements from a club fitting are small, the confidence you gain knowing your clubs are tailored especially for you is invaluable.
It’s nice to know I found a go-to guy for club fitting. Lyle is a class act and knows his stuff.
Now that I know my equipment is dialed for the season, I have one less thing to worry about, and added a new dimension of confidence to my game. Thanks again, Lyle.