Thursday, 13 June 2013

A Proper Fit Up

"It's a right fit up guvnor and no mistake" No I've not been implicated in any scandal or police investigation but had a fitting session yesterday with my teaching professional Rhys ap Iolo to look for some new clubs. I've muted on here and on the Golf Monthly Forum (http://forums.golf-monthly.co.uk) that I was in the market for some new clubs. My desire was fuelled by my club pro Alistair White tempting me with the new forged offering from Callaway, their X forged irons.

I'd been looking at the Callaway range for a while and had considered going to their UK Headquarters in Chessington, Surrey for a full custom fit if I found something that suited. I was hitting balls on Monday at Royal Ascot and Ali gave me the X forged six iron to try. It had a Project X 5.5 shaft which was much stiffer than the Dynamic Gold R300 I have in my current TaylorMade Tour Preferred irons. That said I hit it great and loved the soft feel off the forged head.

The Callaway X Forged - a delight to hit
I had a lesson booked with Rhys and the cunning plan had been to look at my putting especially from close range. However with rain forecast and having had my head turned by this new offering, we decided to have some fun and try the X forged on the launch monitor with different shaft options. I really wanted this to be the one. I love the classic look of the club and the feel off the face. However the numbers in terms of distance and also the dispersion really didn't add up and the off centre hits were punished severely in terms of lost yardages.

I did have a plan B. I wanted to try the Callaway X-Hot Pro. This isn't too different to what I have in terms of a shallow cavity back. I struggled with the stock shafts (Project X 95) and Rhys swapped this for Dynamic Gold XP in a regular flex. I loved it and the distances were way up on the forged version. However, there was a problem with the ball flying left, not always significantly, but with the odd one going to a different post code. Even with a stiffer flex there was still too much movement left and dispersion was an issue.

Callaway X Hot Pro - much better in terms of distance but direction was an issue no matter what shaft we tried
I really liked this. The X Forged had already been consigned to the no pile and I kept badgering Rhys that the X Hot Pro could be tamed but he had a cunning plan and left the teaching bay and returned with another offering. He gave me the Ping G25 in a stock CFS regular flex shaft. Now I have to be honest and say I've never considered this offering from Ping thinking it looked to large and ugly. I had been inclined to their better player model the I20 and Rhys knew I wanted something sleeker so gave me the I20 to hit. Compared to the X Hot, dispersion was tighter but the distance was way down. We tweaked the shaft in the I20 to their stock stiff offering and even a Dynamic Gold but to be honest it didn't really make too much difference in terms of any added yardage.

Having exhausted my options to date I somewhat reluctantly took hold of the G25 in the standard CFS regular shaft. Oh boy. What a revelation. It was a so easy to hit and it flew. I was so consistent in terms of swing speed, around the 82mph mark and the smash factor was steady at 1.33 but the distance was huge. I was hitting my 7 iron 152 yards on average (carry) compared to 142 yards with my current weapons of choice. The off centre ones were going that far. However the real clincher was how tight the dispersion was. Not only was there just 21 yards left to right, but in terms of distances, the shortest of the properly struck shots came out at 151 and the longest was 155 yards.

According to the stats, my swing speed is borderline between regular and stiff in the standard Ping shaft and we changed it to a stiff shaft. This felt heavier and indeed is 10g heavier than the regular flex coming at 109g. However it didn't feel as hard to tame as the Project X in the Callaway models.

The G25 - never on my radar before but where has it been hiding?
The stock Ping shaft in the stiff option was just as good and I was getting better flight and still keeping it on the golf course. In terms of distance there wasn't more than a couple of yards either way and still well ahead of the distances I'd got with the Tour Preferred we'd used as the base line.

I was sold. You simply couldn't argue with the data and to be honest I was blown away by how nice this felt. Once I got past the looks the quality of the strike was superb. I have to say a big thank you to Rhys for his patience and expertise. What was suppose to be a 45 minute session just playing around with a few ideas turned into a two and a half hour session full fitting session. Not only did we run through a number of shaft options but also made sure the mandatory loft and lie was addressed.

No-one knows my swing like Rhys. He was more than happy that a standard lie was fine. If you were being picky, it could have done with being half a degree or even one degree upright but Rhys illustrated the effect leaving it as normal would have and how in a bizarre way would actually benefit me based on my angle of attack. Despite all of this, and maybe because if I go ahead and buy these it will be the last time I upgrade for many years, I am still tempted to go to Ping HQ for the full fitting experience just to try it. Rhys isn't convinced I need it. We didn't have time to even look at woods and hybrids and so we're going to have to book another session to sort these. Once I get his take on these and once I try the irons again to double check which works best (still can't decide between R and S - not much in it across all the data) then I'll make up my mind. Chances are I'll trust Rhys as I do with all of my game but the nagging voice in my ear to try the proper Ping process, akin to what the pros get, is still chattering away.

All in all though what a revelation. I learnt so much about my swing, my numbers and what does and doesn't work in the Ping and Callaway range. I am still in awe at how good the G25 was. I was proper "fitted up" and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I just need to finish the process off and make my decision and perform open wallet surgery on my credit card to make the deal complete.

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