When I first got into the golf business, we fit clubs by gender; if you were a man you bought a set of clubs for men, if you were a woman you were sold a set of clubs for ladies. If you were a kid like me who started playing golf at the age of eight, you played a cut down set of clubs.
In addition, graphite shafts were not common and the driver heads were small and wooden. Putters came in one length only. Most sets consisted of eight irons and didn't include a sand wedge. And speaking of sand wedges, there was only one; no other wedges existed. Long irons and fairway woods completed the set.
We now have so many opportunities with clubfitting to help make the game easier and more enjoyable for all golfers. By taking the time with your students or club members on the lesson tee, you will not only strengthen the relationship, but you will also increase your revenues as well.
When club companies began selling "fitted clubs," I immediately took advantage of the opportunity to educate myself on clubfitting. I knew it was a win-win situation for everyone.
One of my first students to club fit was Jim Southard. He is 6-foot-8 with a wrist to floor measurement of 35-inches. I knew I was out of my league at that time as to what would work best, so we went to the experts at Wilson Sporting Goods located in Tullahoma, Tenn. (the store is now closed) for Jim to be properly fit.
It turned out that Jim needed a 3-inch longer club to be able to play golf without hurting his back and having to bend way over at setup. As you can see in the pictures we are truly two different club fits.
Last year I was presenting a putting clinic for a Tennessee PGA Section Play Golf America event. I asked everyone to get their putters out in order to see how many women had the right length of putter in their bags. I put my putter up against theirs and they were in awe as my putter is 30.25 inches, built to my specifications.
The shortest putter made for women is 33 inches. I was not surprised at how many women actually putt with 35-inch putters. Usually, those are old putters given to them by their husbands, or they were the cheapest ones at the golf shop, or it came with the set.
As much as we are trying to get more women playing the game of golf, it will be difficult for them to enjoy and learn the game if their equipment is the wrong fit. They don't know any better, so they rely on us for guidance. They are extremely intimidated to even come in to a golf shop to purchase clubs let alone know what questions to ask.
I believe, every man, woman, and junior golfer wanting a new set of clubs should be club fit. It's a very simple process that can have the biggest impact on keeping someone playing the game. There are so many different price points and club manufacturers to choose from, but it is our responsibility to educate individuals as to what will work best for them.
Not only should we see more people being fit for their clubs, but the same trend should apply to being fit for a putter as well. Don't neglect the one club that makes the most strokes during a round.
Throughout the month of April, PGA and LPGA Professionals across the country are providing free equipment fittings as part of PGA Free Fitting & Trade-Up Month. A full list of participating facilities by zip code can be found at PlayGolfAmerica.com.
Nancy Quarcelino is a Class A PGA and LPGA Professional and a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher. Her golf school is located at Kings Creek Golf Club in Spring Hill, Tenn., just south of Nashville. For more information, you can contact Nancy at 615-778-8823 or go to QSOG.com.