There is one, somewhat frustrating, fact that as golfers we all have in common, whether you’re Jon Rahm or you’re a weekend golfer just getting out there for fun. We are all human. We all make bad swings and we all have misses, so naturally you would want that magic word out of your equipment. Forgiveness. So what is forgiveness? The common view of forgiveness is something that reacts in similar ways whether you hit it out of the centre or not, and this would be correct. However it doesn’t tell the whole story. You want forgiveness? Then you’re going to have to go into a little more detail than that…
So you’ve just taken a shot with your seven iron and hit it pure out of the heel, yet the ball came out straight, surely that isn’t right? Well many modern clubs now use lighter and more stable materials which allow manufacturers more control over the weight in any given clubhead, iron or wood. This means they can give stability in the heel and toe as more weight in the perimeters of the head will mean less twisting when that happens, better ball speed retention and less of an effect on launch and spin, voila! We have forgiveness! Well not necessarily because this ignores a vital question, what is your miss? The beauty of the range of golf clubs out there at the moment means we can promote the right things in our swing to not only help when we don’t swing well, but make swinging poorly less likely all together. Obviously user input is vital and if you swing the club perfectly you have a leg up, but we all have different misses and forgiveness can mean 2 different things to 2 different golfers.
You’d be amazed at the consistency in the average golfer’s swing, commonly the same thing will cause multiple misses that look totally different on the face of it, this is where as a fitter the really interesting part of it comes in. I recently had an iron fitting for a player who had Taylormade P790s in the bag, he’d lost confidence in them and came in wanting something he could hit with more confidence. What does that sound like to you? He wants forgiveness, so I handed him the biggest clubhead we had and that fixed it…
Of course I’m joking, in actuality he walked away with the P770s, the smaller cousin of the P790, and on the face of it, a less forgiving club. So why did he find it so much easier to use? Well in this case it was vital to figure out why his misses were occurring and they had something in common, they were left with very little spin. Giving him a club with less offset, more loft and a higher centre of gravity allowed him to square the face easier, get more height out of the ball flight and not worry about the low left miss that plagued him on the course. In this case, the “players profile club” was actually more forgiving.
Often “forgiving” clubs will look very distinctive with a large head, which means more weight can be placed low and in the perimeters for that stability I alluded to earlier, and with a lot of offset. Offset is one of the constants in this profile of club and it means the club face is set back from the shaft, this allows the golfer more time to square the face before making contact. This is mostly aimed at those with the most common miss in golf, the slice. As more time to close the face avoids the miss to the right. However that is a very specific miss and in the case of our P790/P770 case study, evidence that the classic forgiving profile doesn’t always fit the bill.
Looking at the shaft can also help in preventing misses by seeing how much and in what manner the shaft deflects and droops we can ascertain if your shaft is creating a worse miss for you, change it, and prevent the miss from happening as much as we can while mitigating this miss when it does come out.
In summary, the most important thing to look at while seeking forgiveness is not the classic view of forgiveness, but it’s a bespoke understanding of the following:
What is your miss?
What is leading to your miss?
How can we tailor the club to reduce its impacts/likelihood of it happening?
So you want a forgiving golf club? Get fitted.