with Robert Bicknell
There's been a lot of chatter on social media regarding Jordan Spieth's decision to try out a new set of clubs in a tournament. Some claim he was crazy to do so being so late in the year and while he was on a roll. Others claim that it was the best time for him to do so because it was the end of the year.
Either way, it didn't end well for him as he played very poorly.
Some people wonder how changing equipment can have such a drastic effect on a top player with a great swing. Aren't they supposed to be the best in the world? How can a different clubhead make a difference?
Well, the truth of the matter is that, for the average player, it wouldn't make much of a difference, but for a finely tuned Tour player, the feedback and feel of the club would be different and that would affect their confidence. Don't forget, these guys are used to hitting a ball to almost wherever they intend and when the ball doesn't come off the clubface the same way, it just doesn't feel normal to them.
It's a confidence issue more than anything else.
What surprises me is that he did it while he was hot and during the season. He could have just as easily tried them out during the off or silly season where there are no important events, trophies or Ryder Cup points at stake.
Secondly, he didn't jump to a completely different brand. He stayed within the Titleist family and those clubs are top performers regardless of the model. In this case, it was only a few tweaks, but it obviously made a difference.
If he had jumped from, say, Titleist to Nike, for example, I could see that having a major effect on his game. I have always felt deep down that if Tiger Woods had stuck with Titleist instead of taking the cash with Nike, he would have already broken Jack Nicklaus' record.
Rory McIlroy also switched to Nike and, sorry to say, he really hasn't been as dominating as he was before.
There is no doubt that certain brands of clubs just suit a player better than others.
Sure, great fitters can tweak clubs to fit the player, but it cannot replicate the exact feel of the club they are used to playing. It's a different animal. It's sort of like comparing a cheetah, a lion and a tiger. They're all big cats which can rip your head off, but they go about it differently.
When you purchase new clubs, it's always a good idea to have them fitted for you by an expert. Buying a set out of a shop without first hitting them, or accepting them off the rack reduces the chances of you playing your best with them.
For example, when I switched from Titleist to TaylorMadde a few years ago, it took me almost two weeks to decide what driver head and shaft combination worked best for me. Sometimes, what I felt at impact was opposite of what the FlightScope (like Trackman) was telling me. In the end, I went with a different shaft than what the computer told me and I never regretted it.
Yes, I tried both shafts on the course and it was no contest. My feeling was correct and the resulting distance and direction proved it.
Sometimes, feel is more important than what the computer says because confidence is everything. A computer cannot tell what you "feel", it can only interpret data. Even the best operators will ask the player "How does that feel?" because he knows there are limitations on what the box can do.
Now, having said that, I am really looking forward to the launch of TaylorMade's new M1 driver this weekend. I have seen the info on it and spoke with a few friends who already went to a launch in their home countries.
They love the thing.
Normally, "new" doesn't always mean better. To wit: The R1, the RBZ 2, Nike Sumo. Heck, there are more horrible clubs floating around than good ones, but when they finally do get it right, it's beautiful.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get packed. —VNS