The debate over club fitting never ceases. Some contend the “Average Joe” golfer gains nothing from a fitting since his swing presumably changes as much as the wind direction on Soldier Field. Others say the quickest way to improvement is to allow a fitting to find the arrow that the flawed Indian can shoot the straightest. Which is it?
The first contingent has a valid argument if “Joe” tops most shots and whiffs the rest. The leading edge of most clubs will scull and top the ball about the same. Otherwise, a quality club fitting is the best first step to chip away at that pesky handicap.
Many a golfer will tell you he’s waiting until he fixes his swing to get a new custom set. Lessons are envisioned, range sessions are theoretically penciled in…but rarely do golfers find that the additional time they need to accomplish the feat. It’s hard enough to strike the ball well with properly-fitted equipment, let alone trying to “pure” a 12-year-old club with a licorice shaft.
What to look for when searching for a club fitter?
- Hit off of grass. Golf is played on grass, not mats. Therefore, you should not rely on hitting balls off of a mat when making expensive purchases. This should be a no brainer.
- Get fitted outdoors where you can watch the ball fly. Watching the ball fly for 10 feet does not give you any indication of how well you hit a club. A launch monitor attempts to extrapolate where the shot would have gone, but even with vastly improved technology, the data is wrong quite often. Your body subtly adjusts to what your eye sees, and hitting into a net does not let your brain process the visual feedback.
- Ensure your club fitter builds your clubs. Wheeling out a fitting cart and ordering a set straight from the manufacturer is not a custom club fitting. Manufacturers have tolerances that allow for variations in each club which can cause a set to have many inconsistencies. You want your club fitter to determine what specs are best for you and then order the club components from the manufacturer so he can build your set. Having the fitter install the shafts correctly, bend the lofts and lies as they should be, and get the proper weight and shaft flex consistent throughout the set is critical.
- Flightscope and Trackman both manufacture state-of-the-art launch monitors that actually follow the ball in flight. A good club fitter can do the majority of the fitting without spending much time analyzing the data from the launch monitor. HOWEVER…you, the customer, will benefit from seeing the results of each shot on the screen. Seeing is believing, and you’ll walk away confident if you can see the improvement in the numbers for yourself.
- Doppler-radar launch monitors should be used. Flightscope and Trackman both manufacture state-of-the-art launch monitors that actually follow the ball in flight. A good club fitter can do the majority of the fitting without spending much time analyzing the data from the launch monitor. HOWEVER…you, the customer, will benefit from seeing the results of each shot on the screen. Seeing is believing, and you’ll walk away confident if you can see the improvement in the numbers for yourself.
- After-market shafts should be available to demo. Shafts that come in stock clubs can range from good to horrible. Most professional golfers use aftermarket shafts and don’t get paid to do so. Why? Because aftermarket shaft options are higher quality and are built to perform better and be consistent from shot to shot. We’ll revisit this topic in more detail at a later date.
Playing with a custom set of clubs adds enjoyment to the game. You will hit the ball better with a custom set. Costs can sometimes be just a tad higher than an “off-the-rack” set. Be careful though…custom club fitting can be like taking your car to the mechanic. Insist on using a fitter with the previous five capabilities or you’ll leave some benefits on the table. You’ll probably encounter warehouse club fitters that will insist they can offer a comparable fitting indoors while hitting into a net, but common sense should tell you otherwise.
Conclusion: Custom club fitting is for you, if you want more birds!
The Fitting Studio is a custom golf club fitting and building business located in Long Beach, CA. Partnered with The Fitting Studio is former professional golfer and UCLA All-American, Travis Matthew Johnson. Travis, who also founded the Travis Mathew Apparel brand, recently sold his interest in TM to pursue more business endeavors within the fashion world as well as the golf industry. For more information about The Fitting Studio, visit www.thefittingstudio.com or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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