Published on June 15th, 2012 | by Jeff Shelman1
Proper Club-Fitting = Buying with Confidence
For the vast majority of golfers, a new set of irons is a fairly significant investment.
It’s one thing to buy a new wedge or putter or even trade in an old driver and upgrade to a new one. But irons, at least to me, are in a different category. A new set of irons can cost anywhere from $700 to more than $1,000.
They might cost the same as a couple of car payments or a great out of town golf trip or a lot of greens fees. That always leaves me with a little anxiety when I decide that it is time to get a new set of irons.
This spring, I felt like it was time to get a new set of irons. For the past two years, I had a set of Mizuno MX-300 irons, the club that was the predecessor to the JPX 800 Pro. The MX-300 is a forged cavity back that does a nice job of combining forgiveness, feel and performance.
But I have a job, I’m not getting any younger and I wanted a little more forgiveness from my irons. I had eyed the new Ping i20 irons ever since pictures started showing up on the Internet. I had a little bit of experience with the i15 irons and thought they were pretty good. If the i20s were truly better, then Ping would have something.
After hitting a few i20 7 irons outside at a demo night, I had a pretty good idea these were the clubs that I wanted. While I don’t get hung up on the looks of clubs nearly as much as others, I like that the i20s have a pretty thin top line and don’t have a huge amount of offset.
More importantly, I liked that it was hard to hook these things. The ball pretty much wanted to go straight. Good shots would turn over a tiny bit from right to left, but it was barely enough to call it a draw and nothing even close to a hook.
So what to do after hitting the i20s and liking them? The easy thing would be just to order the same color codes that I had in previous sets of Pings that I owned. If you go back 20 years, I’ve had probably five different sets of Pings. But a lot of things have changed in the fitting game since Ping put together its first color code chart.
The fitting process
I scheduled a session at the Minnetonka 2nd Swing location and got a fitting from Scott Johnson and it was a great experience.
Over the past year or so, 2nd Swing has made significant upgrades to its fitting equipment. Both stores use Ping’s nFlight fitting system. To say this is an upgrade over hitting balls off of a lie board would be an understatement. The nFlight system is also more advanced than what you can find at a big box golf equipment store. The software analyzes the launch monitor data and interprets that in a way to help determine which clubs and shafts would be right for the golfer.
Ping describes it this way:
In creating nFlight, the company’s team of software developers, scientists and fitting experts combined years of product knowledge, scientific data and fitting research into a tool that ensures fitting results never before available in both the indoor and outdoor environments. They developed the industry’s first virtual fitting software to precisely model, digitally analyze and scientifically compare every aspect of every shot it captures.
The simplicity of nFlight relies on numerous and complex equations working within the software to analyze and compare shot characteristics and results. The software is capable of recommending thousands of club combinations.
After taking some initial measurements, I hit a number of shaft and color code combination. Because I had a pretty clear understanding of what I wanted – I wanted to hit the ball straighter and accuracy was more important to me than getting every single yard possible out of the club – it may have gone a little quicker than for some.
I ended up hitting four different color code/shaft combinations that evening. Scott asked me questions throughout to help the process. It became pretty clear from the beginning that adding a half-inch of length was a good idea. At 6-feet tall, I’m kind of on the border of wanting to add length. But since I do sometimes have some golf-related low back pain, Scott liked adding a half inch in order to have me be less crouched at address.
That added length makes the club play more upright than a standard length club. In the past, I had always had upright Pings, but I ended up with the standard black dot with an additional half inch.
The combination wasn’t the longest for me – there were two other combinations that were slightly longer – but it was the most accurate.
When the fitting was complete, I received a printout of my results. I went into the fitting knowing that I was going to order a new set of irons, so we placed the order that night.
The new clubs
There isn’t much more that will test my patience as an adult than waiting for new clubs to arrive. I was pretty good for a week, but then I was constantly waiting for word to arrive.
Two weeks to the day from when the order was placed, I picked up my new clubs. I went almost directly to the golf course from there and played multiple balls from different places on the golf course to test them out.
The results have been good. Like any club change, there is an adjustment period. I’m about five rounds into the new clubs and am getting comfortable. The biggest adjustment for me is truly trusting that shots are going to go nearly straight. When the ball gets to the top of its flight it will turn over softly from right to left, but that’s about it.
I’m very happy with my i20s. They are straighter than what I used previously and these clubs are maybe a half of a club longer. I am a golfer who works hard to control my distances and I’m feeling like I again know my numbers.
The clubs have delivered as I had hoped. To me the i20 is the perfect kind of iron for me. They look good and have the feel of a player’s iron, but there are some game- improvement features hidden in there. As someone who has a day job (one that isn’t playing golf for a living), that is comforting.
The fitting at 2nd Swing was a very positive experience. Thanks to the Ping nFlight system, I feel confident knowing that I have clubs that fit me. Obviously I have some flaws in my swing, but I feel like I have the best chance for success. The downside of that is that I can’t really blame my clubs when things go wrong.
Read More from Jeff at his golf blog, OnlyGolfMatters.com