Fully Equipped mailbag: Should you prioritize the head or shaft during a fitting?

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Welcome to another edition of the Fully Equipped mailbag, an interactive GOLF.com series in which our resident dimplehead (a.k.a., GOLF’s managing editor of equipment, Jonathan Wall) fields your hard-hitting gear questions. 

What order would you prioritize getting fit: shaft, head, length, lie angle and grip?

I reached out to Kris McCormack, VP of Tour and Education at 8AM Golf sister company True Spec Golf, for some fitter insights, but this mailbag is property of yours truly, so I’ll give my take as well. The cop-out answer is each plays an important role and therefore deserves to be weighted equally.

Of course, there’s no fun in straddling the fence. If I had to choose a component, I’d start with shaft followed closely by head, length, lie angle and grip, in that order.

If you’ve perused GOLF’s 2021 ClubTest, you know there are tons of great options on the market. I’ve been saying it for a few years but this feels like we’re living in the Golden Age of Gear. This isn’t my way of saying you can plug in any club and have success, but I’d venture a guess you’d find at least 2-3 strong options if you went through a fitting.

ClubTest 2021 iron review
ClubTest 2021: 53 hot new irons tested and reviewed
By: GOLF Editors

So why shaft? Part of it is from personal experience. I was in Scottsdale last year and worked with good buddy Tim Briand on my mediocre iron game. I was content with my setup and had been playing the same shafts since high school, so I figured the session would consist of popping heads onto the same shaft to find the best fit.

Then “The Professor” threw me a curveball. He gave me a couple shafts I’d never tried before, including one that happened to be 15 grams lighter than what I played at the time. Long story short, the lighter shaft wound up significantly tightening my dispersion pattern. I tried the same shaft on my current gamer head and the one I was playing at the time and the dispersion was equally tight, which led me to believe the shaft was the difference-maker.

I may be biased, but I think golfers should lead with shaft and narrow down the head choices from there.

As for the fitter’s perspective, Kris McCormack said it depends on the player and what they’re trying to accomplish.

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“I look at every fitting as a puzzle that I’m dumping out on the table,” McCormack said. “As we spend time with a player, we start putting the pieces together just to see the picture. A lot of the answer to that question lies primarily in what’s the goal of the player? Are we looking for a different reaction out of the clubhead for more ball speed or something different with spin or a different trajectory? Same thing with shaft if we’re looking for a different weight or bend profile.

“You can attack any of those parameters with more priority than others just based upon what the goals and objectives are of the player. If you’re talking just basic fitting, where do we start and why do we do it, clubhead is going to be the biggest component to influencing performance. And then you get into shaft, length of shaft, weight of shaft, and lie angle is going to be influenced by the weight of the shaft and the release of the player and the bend profile of the shaft. You can get more droop or deflection, or less, depending on how you release a certain bend profile.”

I don’t think there’s a wrong answer to this question. It ultimately depends on the player and what they’re trying to accomplish during their fitting. (But I do think I’m right about shaft taking top billing. Just don’t tell Kris.)

Want to overhaul your own bag for 2021? Visit the expert fitters at our sister company, True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast below.

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Jonathan Wall

Golf.com

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour.