Yo, Gear Guy! What’s more important when choosing clubs: looks and feel or launch numbers?

July 10, 2019

Welcome to another edition of Yo, Gear Guy!, an interactive GOLF.com series in which our resident dimplehead (a.k.a., GOLF’s deputy editor of equipment, Mike Chwasky) fields your hard-hitting equipment questions.

What’s more important when choosing clubs, looks and feel or launch-monitor numbers? — Nick via email

That’s a particularly good question that even expert fitters sometimes struggle to answer. Recently I chatted with Tim Briand, SVP, True Spec Golf, about this exact topic as it pertains to iron selection, but his response (and mine) applies equally to all clubs in the bag. The first part of Briand’s response in many ways sums up the bottom line in regard to balancing looks and/or feel and launch-monitor numbers on a prospective new club.

“Looks and feel are important because if you don’t like one or the other it can often affect your perception of the club you’re hitting and will have a negative effect on your confidence, even if that model gives you slightly better numbers on a launch monitor,” he said. “In my experience if your problems with the look or feel of a given club are fairly minor you’ll almost definitely get over it, but if the issues are significant then you likely won’t.”

If you need a translation, he’s basically saying, “go with the model that gives you the best numbers unless the looks and/or feel are so bothersome that you can’t get used to it.”

In my personal experience, after plenty of experimentation and fittings with qualified fitters on good launch monitors, both indoors and out, this advice is absolutely spot on. My only additional comment (really a question) to consider is this: If a given club clearly gives you the best numbers on a launch monitor, then how are the looks or feel affecting you? The answer in my opinion is they’re not. However, the vast majority of us play golf for fun and the importance of being excited about a new stick in your bag, looks and feel included, can’t be overlooked.

“At the end of the day the scorecard doesn’t know what your clubs look or feel like, it only knows performance and I always try to stress this to clients who are being fit and/or seriously considering a new club purchase,” Briand said. “We are fortunate to work with a number of Tour players and more of them than ever are playing perimeter weighted, cast irons, which would have been unheard of in the not-too-distant past. The reason? They play golf for a living and are keenly aware that golf clubs are primarily tools to make a score, not necessarily works of art to admire as they sit in the golf bag.”

True Spec and GOLF.com are operated by the same holding company, 8AM Golf.