Welcome to Yo, Gear Guy!, a new GOLF.com series in which our resident dimplehead (a.k.a., GOLF's deputy editor of equipment, Mike Chwasky) fields your hard-hitting questions about clubs, fittings, gadgets, bounce, lofts, CG, MOI, and a lots of other scary acronyms. Got a question for Gear Guy? Hit us up on Twitter or Facebook.
Carr For The Course (via Twitter): My son is transitioning from junior clubs to a full-size set. I plan to give him my old clubs. Should I get lighter shafts in the irons and less stiff shafts in the woods?
There are some variables involved, including your son's age, his athleticism and ability level, and the set up of the clubs you're handing down. If your son is a strong athlete with good ability and your old clubs aren't fitted with overly stiff, heavy shafts, he might be fine with them. However, if you want him to fully enjoy the game and develop his swing naturally, it's a great idea to have him fitted for the proper shafts, lie angles, and grips. Ill fitting clubs, particularly those that are a “too much,” for a young player, can cause a lot of bad things to happen in their swing and make the game a lot less fun.
Mark (via Twitter): How do I know if a blade or mallet style putter would be best for me?
There are a number of factors involved when it comes to putter fitting, and head shape/style is just one of them. Another important factor is the balance of the putter face — balanced putters are typically better suited for players who swing the putter straight back and straight through the target line, while blades that are toe weighted (they rotate more during the stroke,) typically fit those with some degree of arc in their motion. If you try to simply try to swing the putter up and down the target line, a face-balance mallet is more likely to work for you. If you like to allow the putterface to open and close during the swing, a blade-style putter might be a better fit. Keep in mind that face balanced blades and toe weighted mallets exist as well, they're just not as common.
Tom (via Twitter): I've had a case of golf balls sitting in my garage for more than three years. Should I be concerned that they've lost their pop?
Assuming you've got a case of modern, solid core golf balls and not some old Tour Balatas, three years of storage isn't that much of a concern in regard to performance. As long as the environment the balls are stored in is relatively cool and dry (no hot car trunks or attics), today's balls can often perform without significant loss of speed for as much as five years or more.
Kristin (via Twitter): I've heard that a properly fit shaft is the most critical part of your equipment to get right. True?
There are a number of critical elements to "get right," when it comes to fitting your clubs for optimal performance but there's no doubt a correct shaft is right near the top. If you can't load the shaft comfortably and fully during your swing you'll be forced to make compensations, one of the least desirable being an over-the-top cast that produces glancing blows, poor distance, and lots of slicing. At the same time, a shaft that's too soft can cause problems as well, including loss of accuracy, poor trajectory, and even a loss of distance. There's a massive selection of incredible steel and composite shafts available today — take full advantage and you'll be a much happier camper. Also, for a large percentage of players I advise erring on the side of more flex and torque (rotation during the swing) — unless you're a Tour pro or accomplished amateur you'll most likely be more comfortable, and get better results, with a softer shaft.
Jay (via Facebook): I'm a 15 handicapper with a middling game all around — i.e., inconsistent throughout my bag! Should I be carrying more wedges or hybrids?
That's a good question and the answer depends on where you feel you're losing most of your strokes. Most players with mid- to high-handicaps are going to lose a majority of strokes off the tee and around the greens. If this is you, more wedges might be a good option. However, hybrids can provide an enormous advantage for a wide variety of players, and if you feel you can gain strokes by using a lower lofted hybrid off the tee at times, then you should add one. Take a close look at your game and where you can save some strokes and adjust your set accordingly.
Chad (via Facebook): I'm an average golfer and play about 10-15 rounds a year. How often do I need to replace my wedges?
It depends largely on how much you practice. If you play 10-15 rounds a year and your "practice," is comprised of a brief warm up before each round, your wedges should be fine for a few years. Tour pros often replace their wedges more than once a season, but they might play 20-30 tournaments a year complete with regular and lengthy sessions around the practice greens and in sand bunkers. Assuming your not planning on significantly upping your practice schedule to the point where you're spending several hours a week working on your short game, you're probably fine with the wedges you have for the moment.
Amanda (via Facebook): A few weeks back, I took a swing with my driver and the head snapped off after impact. (The club is about two years old.) Do most clubs carry some kind of warranty?
Yes, most clubs do come with a limited warranty that covers failure of one of the components through normal use. You need to check with the company that manufactured your driver and see if the shaft breakage is covered. Keep in mind that many warranties are only good for one year, and that they might be void if there are signs you abuse your club regularly, store it in a hot car trunk, or any number of other issues.
Janine (via Facebook): How do I know which driver loft is right for me?
The best way to know for sure is to go and get fitted by a qualified professional. However, the nature of today's low-spin drivers and golf balls puts a premium on high launching drives and for a large percentage of recreational players more loft will yield better results. Remember, the equation for maximum distance is a combination of high launch and low spin, and though swing speed and some other concerns are important, most recreational players would do well to get more loft under their tee shots. Also, a more lofted driver tends to be more closed at address, which can help counteract a slice.