Club-Fitting: Good fits make for good golf

PGA.com
By
John Hughes, PGA

Series:

Published: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 | 4:37 p.m.

How many times have you tried to fix your swing, only to fall back into the old habits that have driven you crazy! Your efforts might be all for nothing if your clubs do not fit you correctly. Ill-fitted golf clubs will always cause you to swing to the characteristic of the club, not you. No matter how good the instructor, no matter how athletically gifted you might be, a set of ill-fitted clubs will always negate great instruction and practice. As you consider a holiday purchase of golf clubs, you should seriously consider a complete club fitting session before investing in a new set of clubs.

Just like you would have a fine men's suit tailored to fit you perfectly, or a great dinner dress altered to perfection, your golf clubs should fit your swing in the same manner. No two people swing the club the same. You are not going to swing your friend's clubs as well as he does. Nor will you hit the ball as far using your playing partner's driver as she does, if that driver is not suited to your game. Eliminating variables on the course that can contribute to ill-fated shots is something you do all the time. So why not do that with your golf clubs? By eliminating the possibility that your clubs do not fit, you can now concentrate on hitting good shots, not wondering why the club felt like a spaghetti noodle.

The past five years has seen significant improvements by all club manufacturers in their ability to offer state-of-the-art, technologically advanced golf clubs while increasing their capacities to produce custom fitted sets of clubs. To get the most out of the technology built in your new set of clubs, it is imperative that the clubs fit you, your abilities, and your swing characteristics.

Just as club building has evolved, so has club fitting into a pure science. No longer is fitting a tinkering by the garage hobbyist. Club fitting is full of high-tech jargon, machines, and labels. It can be awfully confusing and overwhelming to the average player. To make the best of your club fitting experience, we would like to offer you several ideas and thoughts to follow that will maximize your time and effort, and insure that your fitting session is a success.

First, find a certified "factory trained" fitter to help you with this process. You might pay the person upwards of $50.00 for the session, but it is well worth the cost. Most of the time, fitters apply fitting fees to the purchase price of a new set of clubs, making the financial experience less wounding. Factory trained fitters are your best bet, because each manufacturer does not want fitted clubs coming back to them because they were fit and therefore built wrong. Certified fitters receive a great education from the manufacturers concerning their product lines and the positive attributes of all the company's offerings. They have also gone through extensive training in the science of golf club fitting. Most of the time, the fitters who are recognized by a manufacturer are easily found on the company's website. If you can not find a factory trained fitter, the equivalent will be a member of one of several organizations who certify their members as "Master Club Fitters."

Second, technology is only as good as technology is applied. Too many people today have launch angle monitors, simulators, and other gadgets to help them in the fitting process. Within in minutes of purchasing these devises, these individuals immediately hang a shingle in every place they can to tell you they are a club fitter. These individuals typically buy the equipment but fail to take the necessary classes and training to insure the proper usage of the equipment. If your fitter uses a computerized mechanism to confirm the fitter's opinions, insure that the fitter has received enough education and accreditation to use the instruments. Relying solely on computers and not your feel for a club is a sure bet that you will pay a return trip to the fitter to have the clubs altered or exchanged after the fact.

Third, make sure the person who is fitting you does this as a focus of his or her business. A person who has other responsibilities such as tournament preparation or shirt folding probably does not have enough experience to work through a sticky situation of your fitting, if one should arise.

Fourth, be sure to experience a "dynamic" fitting outdoors. "Static" fittings encompass stand still measurements of your body and set-up positions only. They do not include you hitting balls to test the equipment, or to see how the ball flies. Computers, launch monitors, and other instruments will never replace the visual confirmation you receive outdoors by seeing the improvement of your ball flight caused by better-fitted golf clubs. A computer might tell you that you have reached "optimum" ball flight characteristics. However, if you are accustom to seeing a fade and desire to continue to play a fade, yet the "optimum" characteristic produces a draw, is the computer really doing you justice? Once you and your fitter have determined a good club for you, be sure to see how that clubs produces a ball flight you desire, outdoors, so you feel confirmed in the process and the choice of club specifications.

Fifth, ask questions of your fitter if you are confused or not comfortable with how the process is going. Be willing to learn terms like "lie angle," and "shaft flex." If you do not know what your fitter is talking about, ask. After all, it is your fitting session. Gaining knowledge about golf clubs and how golf clubs work can only improve your abilities on the practice range, as well as on and off the golf course.

Lastly, before purchasing any set of golf clubs resulting from a club fitting session, be sure to receive two things, a guarantee that the clubs will fit, and a follow-up fitting session once the clubs arrive. If your fitter is company trained and certified, you can almost assure yourself that the manufacturer will reconcile mistakes made on your fitter's behalf. A follow-up fitting session allows you and the fitter the opportunity to witness the result of your efforts. Hitting each club a few times with the fitter, as well as checking lie angles and grip sizes will confirm that the clubs properly fit you.

Golf clubs are far superior and more expensive then ever before. Golf clubs have become an investment. If you follow the steps we offer, as well as consider your goals, just as you would when investing your money, you will be sure to reap the rewards of today's technologically advanced golf clubs, as well as justifying the effort you make to lower your scores.