Thanks for your questions Swede.
Regarding data for irons, if I understand what you are asking, the driver data can't really be correlated. Each iron would have it's own ideal launch conditions (launch angle, spin rate, ball speed) which would be based off of the player's swing speed. The ball is designed to perform differently with longer clubs than shorter clubs, but if you can get dialed in with your driver, you'll be pretty close with the rest of the set also.
The driver/shaft combo certainly affects the trajectory as well, and sometimes guys are playing the wrong ball and the wrong driver. But what I see more often is a player who goes through the fitting process when purchasing a driver and irons, then they play whatever ball happens to be on sale. It would be like using a different driver every time they played! When trying to optimize trajectory, the ball is a good place to start. Why buy a new driver when moving to a different ball can make the difference? Sometimes the ball will help some, but to get where a player needs to be a different shaft or driver might be needed also.
A lot of guys will go through a ball fitting whenever they get a new driver, which is not a bad idea. Usually, if your previous driver fit properly and the new one fits properly, the ball will work just fine. I usually suggest going through a ball fitting at least every-other-season just to make sure. Sometimes our swings evolve...maybe your swing has improved or swing speed has increased, or it could be the other way, but it's good to make sure your stuff is correct.
To be clear, I have never talked about "the Titleist fitting." I don't know what they do to fit players. I'm simply talking about their recommendation to start at the green and work backward, but ultimately to consider all the shots you play in a round of golf, not just ones with the driver.
I'm not talking about "here's two balls, try them out." I'm talking about the idea of "here are 30 kinds of golf ball. I eliminated a few because they felt horrible off my putter. I eliminated a few more for poor performance around the green. I eliminated some more for poor spin or flight with my irons. Of the six that I had left, these two performed well with my driver, so one of them is a good fit.
If they have a super official "ball fitting" process, I wasn't talking about that, nor was I talking about a "here is a Pro V1 and a Pro V1x… hit some shots and pick one."
So… I wish you hadn't devoted that much attention to the "Titleist method" in your post when that's not at all what I was asking.
My point was… I'm skeptical that the Bridgestone method (only hitting a few balls, not doing much to account for consistent tee heights, ball position, players getting "warmed up" during the process, etc., only using the driver and disregarding the rest of the shots) is a great method, either.
1. Golf is elitist. So far from true but I still get way too many people who chuckle at my interest in golf- as if I should be embarrassed that I enjoy such a snobby pastime.
2. Just swing your swing- and stop obsessing about getting a "pretty" swing. Sorry, but that's not sound advice - when I get rid of the key elements that are holding me back, yes, sure- then I'll make the most of what I've got. I'll swing that swing. Until then, not a chance, now that I have learned about the fundamentals . There's work to be done to make my future golf far more enjoyable and competitive.
3. Lessons are expensive. Nope- look hard enough and you can find quality swing guidance at a reasonable price.
I agree with lotsa others above but these resonate for me at my level of play right and interactions with people now.
Let me address the things you mentioned and clarify a little bit, because I think there is some misconceptions on some of the aspects.
There is perception that the Titleist fitting covers everything and the Bridgestone only addresses the driver. One of the biggest issues I have with the Titleist method is it's not a real golf ball fitting. They give you a Pro V1 2-ball pack and a Pro V1x 2-ball pack and basically tell you to hit some shots and see which one you like best. So regardless of swing speed, handicap, launch numbers or anything else, they are saying you can pick this ball or that ball. The other models in Titleist's line are not included and competitor models are not included. I know for a fact that there are many players who don't fit into either of those models, but Titleist doesn't offer other options or comparisons. They claim the Pro V1 and Pro V1x have the best distance, best short game spin, best flight characteristics, softest feel and great durability. I hate to tell everyone, but there is no such thing as a perfect golf ball. The laws of physics and aerodynamics apply to Titleist just like everyone else. A ball that is designed for high spin will not be as long as a lower spinning model and will tend to curve more, and a ball designed for distance will not have the same type of performance on approach shots and around the green.
Titleist also doesn't offer any data that shows how those models stack-up for players, or how they perform compared to their ideal numbers. Sure, people love the spin that they get around the green, but do they need that much spin? Is all that spin hurting them in other areas? High spin actually gets a lot of players in trouble and costs them more strokes than it saves them. Similar to the Titleist method that has players go through the process on their own, after a Bridgestone tech works with a player and their driver and shows them the data, a 2-ball pack is given to the player to continue their testing on the course with irons and short game.
As far as the number of shots on the launch monitor is concerned, you are correct...typically 3 or 4 shots with each ball is recorded. It's not a lot, but it's 6-8 more shots over a launch monitor than a Titleist fitting. Obviously it would be great to do more, but a fitting could easily stretch to an hour per player, so a typical 4-5 hour event we could only help a handful of players. A normal fitting takes about 15 min, so that is 16-20 players per event. At that number, the cost of each fitting was right around $40/player. If an hour was spent with each player, it would cost almost $200/player which isn't cost effective.
On the launch angle issue, what I said was there are many things that can affect the launch, including the ball. I didn't say 2* wasn't possible and I didn't say in the example I posted that only 1/2* could be attributed to the ball. Honestly, I can't say how much of that 2* is related to moving to a different model...even if other variables like tee height, ball position were removed, the difference in loft will vary from player-to-player due to different swing speeds, swing paths, angle of attack etc which is unique to everyone. Plus depending on what model is used first and which model is recommended could have a smaller or larger affect than other combinations. You could probably make the same case for every category if you wanted though, right? You could say how much of the difference in spin was caused by the ball change and how much was the result of some other variable? Spin is more important than the launch angle, so even if the l.a. stayed the same, the drop in spin would have made a nice difference by itself. But we know the player was launching the ball too low with too much spin, a lower spinning/higher launching ball was recommended and the results were a more efficient trajectory and an increase in performance.
I believe the key is to be able to show a player in black and white what their launch conditions are with their current ball and how it compares to their ideal numbers. If you can't show a player the areas that need improvement, then how can you confidently recommend the best ball for them? The truth is, most people are playing the wrong ball, so it's not that hard to make an improvement, and honestly there are probably a handful of different makes/models that would be better.
1-5. Putting matters most. Uh huh. What are the chances I gain 2 strokes because I (or just about any golfer) 4 putted? It's happened. Rarely. What are the chances I (or just about any golfer) hit an errant tee shot and blow 2 strokes? 40% every tee shot for me.