Saturday, March 10, 2012

How to Make the Most of a Demo Day

Demo days can be overwhelming!  There will be many vendors with literally hundreds of clubs just waiting to be hit.  I get excited just thinking about all the extra distance I am going to find from the hottest driver!  This article will hopefully keep you from getting buyers remorse.  I will provide some information which will keep that new driver or set of irons in your bag for the long term.

                                                              Where do you start?

The problem is all the equipment is good.  I suggest you do a little homework before you attend.  Go online and look at the vendor's websites.  This will at least provide you with some basic knowledge and maybe narrow your list of clubs you want to try.  There will also be plenty of reviews online.  Read those but do keep an open mind. 

Let's discuss drivers first.  As a demo day rep for Nike for two years I quickly discovered that golfers are usually most interested in hitting the driver first.  Now, do not just go to the vendor tent and start hitting without talking with the representative.  Nike had over 40 shaft selections and this is probably the most important part of the club.  I can almost guarantee the first club you grab will not fit your swing.  The demo day reps are highly trained and will help you choose the correct driver and shaft combination.  You must have the correct loft, shaft flex, shaft weight and shaft torque to maximaize your distance and accuracy. To help me become a better club fitter, I would try all the shafts and it was amazing the difference.  Since most demo days last for 3-6 hours, I recommend spending quality time with each vendor.  I think most reps should be able to get you in the correct shaft in a matter of minutes.  Once you get the correct shaft then you can start making the clubhead adjustments that are now available.  THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION I CAN GIVE not base your driver decision on the one shot you really hit well.  It's not about the "one" shot, but it's about what your "misses" look like.  If the misses are short and way off line, this is not the club for you.  Be sure you have your driver with you so you can really determine if the new driver you are trying is indeed better than what you have.  Once you hit them back to back you will know.  If looking for hybrids or fairway woods, repeat the process.  You might find you need to go to two or more demo days before you make your final decision. 

If you are in the market for new irons be sure you get properly fit.  You must have the correct length, lie and shaft flex.  It was a benefit that I was an instructor when fitting clubs.  I found when fitting irons I had to get the golfer in the correct position first.  Once the golfer is set up properly I could better determine where to start with length and lie. Once you get the right fit, it is really personal preference if you want steel vs. graphite shafts.  Graphite is lighter than steel but they are making some very good lightweight steel shafts now too.  For irons, think more of accuracy than distance.  One thing to keep in mind for some models of irons, the manufactures are making the lofts much stronger.  Just because the #7 is on the bottom of the club, the loft could be that of a 6 iron.  Obviously you are going to hit it farther, but do you hit it straighter?  Again, spend a little time with each vendor and choose the iron which will help you hit more greens in regulation.

Wedges seem to be on the radar now.  If you are not carrying at least three wedges you are limiting your shot selection around the green.  In actualality you need four wedges if you include the pitching wedge which comes with the set.  You need to determine the loft of your pitching wedge before you decide on the other wedges you need.  I like to keep the loft difference between my wedges consistent. For example, if your PW is 47 degrees in loft, I would recommend lofts of 50, 54 and 58 for your next three wedges.  If your PW is 48 degrees in loft you might go to lofts of 52, 56 and 60 for your next three wedges.  The most common problem is most golfers carry a PW of 47 degrees and a sand wedge with 58 degrees of loft.  With a difference of 11 degrees, you are very limited in your shot making.
Once you decide which lofts to carry, you have to decide which bounces will need.  If you look at the imprints on most wedges there will be two numbers.  For example you might see 58/10.  The 58 is the loft in degrees and the 10 is the bounce in degrees.  Just to keep it simple, if you play off firm fairways and firm sand, you are usually better off with less bounce.  If you play on soft turf and fluffy sand, more bounce is better.  With a little experimentation you will see which works better for you. 

Good luck with your decision process and I hope this information helps you.  Please leave a comment if you have any questions.

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