Finding My Long-Lost Brother

I wrote this blog a few days before my first tournament of the year, and spoiler alert… something great happened that I talk about at the end of this blog.

For 45 years I’ve only had a sister (who is great by the way, in case she reads this), and I had an experience last month that was such a remarkable surprise I told my wife I felt like I just found out that I had a brother. While she may have rolled her eyes because I was actually talking about getting new, custom-fit irons, she was legitimately happy for me.

I know I am being dramatic, but going through this club fitting was an incredibly eye-opening experience, and the difference these new clubs are making is an unexpected surprise. 

After getting a new driver and 3 wood last year, I wanted to get a new set of irons this year. I got my previous set in 2012 and I just felt like it was time. The old irons had also been fitted to me and used Trackman, so while I know the tech had increased a lot in the last decade, I wasn’t expecting to get much more than an updated set that performed similar to my current one, with maybe a slight increase in distance or consistency. As it turns out, I had some glaring deficits in my equipment that has proven to be another important piece of the puzzle.

 

Out of Left Field

My club fitter, Jim Yenser from Club Champion, sent me an email prior to the fitting asking about any miss patterns that we could get under control. Most notably is a big draw with my long-irons and missing left with my short-irons. Honestly I didn’t think too much about it as I’ve always viewed my miss pattern though the lens of my swing, not my equipment. Obviously, I would have thought about that differently if my previous set hadn’t been fit to me or if my swing had undergone a major overhaul. But that’s not the case. The set was fitted and, as I said before, my work with my swing instructor Dom has been much more about refinement around my natural body movement vs. huge changes.

To say I was wrong is an understatement. I was blown away by how much different the shafts we tested affected my ball flight and, in particular, how much they accentuated or mediated my predominant miss. During testing, my swing wouldn’t feel that much different, but some would be hit right on line and others would draw 20 yards left. That’s the shot I always worry about and makes me feel like I can’t fully release the club and have to hold it off, opening the clubface at impact to hit it on line. This happened with my 3, 4, and 5 iron, but even with my wedges, at times I’d miss it left. My worry was not some irrational fear. It was a realistic problem that I did not have command of and, I realize now, could not have been fixed solely by working on my swing.

As we narrowed the shafts and clubheads (Titleist T100 & Mizuno Pro 243) down to two contenders, and compared that to my current irons, the difference in the feel was mind blowing. I could feel how unstable the bottom of the shaft felt through impact with my old iron. I don’t remember all of the technical details why that was the case, but the new shaft that fit best now reduced my left miss by half. A massive difference and that was just the half of it. 

To be honest, I’ve always felt like something was wrong with my 3 iron and 9 iron but could never really verbalize it. I thought it sounded crazy. But Jim also explained the manufacturing inconsistencies that exist in producing both the club heads and the shafts, and both of these clubs were off compared to the rest of the set. (As a note, I am not paid for saying any of this. I am just a guy who fell for a sales pitch and was delighted with the results. All opinions here are my own.)

I’ve talked before about compensating for lost mobility and lack of strength, and how I started working with Dom, and Abby, my trainer, because I knew my swing wasn’t ideal and that I was out of shape and inflexible. But I hadn’t realized that I was also compensating for my clubs because they weren’t right for my swing.

 

I’m Not the Problem!

Leveraging the expertise of experts and investing in the right tools has been a game-changer for me. Right at the start of the season, not only are my shots factually straighter and better, but there has been a distinct emotional weight lifted by getting these new irons. All this time I thought my swing was the problem. Obviously it’s not perfect, but it’s been incredibly freeing mentally and in my swing.

I’m only a few weeks into using the new clubs, but the quality of the feedback is much greater, allowing me to make adjustments that are much more progressive. When I miss a shot now, it’s far easier to understand what is off with my swing and there are fewer variables to assess to get better. Before, I was compensating – essentially putting a band-aid on a weakness without addressing the core problem. This is exactly what I am trying to avoid with my swing and mental game and have now checked another box (that I admittedly hadn’t thought of) with my equipment. Now I don’t have to compensate for inadequate equipment.

One piece of info Jim shared that I thought was interesting was that the higher your handicap, the more important it is to have clubs that are fit to your swing. The argument is that lower handicap golfers have more skills that they can use to compensate. Again, I am not endorsing or getting paid to say this. I am shocked and excited by my experience and the clubs I’m playing with now and I’d love for you to have that feeling too. 

I definitely spent more money than I was expecting. But with all the time and effort I’m putting into trying to fulfill my dream, getting this peace of mind was totally worth it.

 

I Won My First Tournament

I wrote this blog last week before playing my first tournament of the year, and low and behold, I won it! It was the qualifier for the Philly Mid-am. I shot an even par 69, in very difficult conditions, to win by 1 shot. If you watched the Masters on Thursday and Friday, the high winds moved north and gave us 20 mph sustained winds with 35 mph gusts. I’ll post more about the event soon, but suffice to say, the new clubs made a big difference. You have to hit the ball solidly when playing in high wind. My old big draw miss with my old clubs would have been magnified and I’d be hitting it all over the place. The opposite happened. I had really good control with a lot of my iron play and gave myself a lot of birdie chances, plus I on my third hole of the day I hit to a foot for eagle from 185 yards out on a short par 5! 

This is my first win in a stroke play tournament since college! Feels great and I’m excited about preparing for the US Open Local Qualifier on May 7th. 

As I take one last attempt to realize my golf dreams, I decided to start blogging to practice what I preach, bring some accountability, and provide a window into my mental game work, goals, and process. If you’d like my latest post delivered right to your inbox, click here to added to the list.

Written by Jared Tendler

April 15, 2024

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