Why should I consider golf club fitting?
Golf club fitting will give you a club, or a full set of clubs, which match your game. It is a chance to get your whole game analyzed and measured and to try out different club heads and shafts. That is the way to find which is the best for you.
Do I have to go with one brand?
A growing trend and one which I would recommend is ‘agnostic fitting.’ It’s fitting, not sponsored by or organized by a particular brand. You can choose from everything available.
You will get an overview of what’s on the market. Take a look at this video with Ian Fraser, a fitting guru from True Spec golf. He explains what agnostic fitting is and what it involves.
If you want to go for an agnostic fitting, there are several organizations which now offer these services. Some of the best known are Hot Stix, Cool Clubs, and True Spec Golf. Several small independents provide this service too. It is worth searching in your area or speak to your coach or local golf professional.
Whichever you go to the process is the same.
What happens at a golf fitting?
It starts by getting you to hit with the clubs you currently use. The fitter will use a launch monitor and tracking software to measure the distance you achieve, the spin you put on the ball, your speed, and other vital points.
It gives the fitter a baseline from which to work. He will then test out adjustments to your clubs or suggest different equipment which may improve your game.
Usually, the fitter will start by trying a new clubhead, often one which is quite similar to your current one. He will then fit different shafts to that clubhead and see how you do. The shafts will be of varying weights, lengths and flexes. You will hit with each of them until you find which is giving the most significant improvement to your game.
Once the fitter has found the best shaft for your game, he will look at the clubhead. Again, various clubheads, with different grooves and angles, will be tried until he finds the best fit.
The fitter will use data tracking for both the shaft and the clubhead. Which suits you best will be scientifically measured. But how you feel is also important, so a good club fitter will always be asking you which shaft and which clubhead feels the most comfortable for your game.
My friend’s club fitting
A club fitting can give specificity, and accuracy which a ‘one size fits all’ club can never match. A friend of mine recently had a fitting. He is five foot nine inches tall, of average weight and forty-two years old. All the evidence he had collected made him think he needed a standard-length shaft. But when he got to the golf fitter and his swing was analyzed, and data tracked it quickly became apparent that a slightly shorter shaft suited his game better. The data showed he was getting more accuracy with no loss of distance with the shorter shaft. The fitter then turned his attention to my friend’s driver. Again, he used a standard shaft, and that seemed fine. But a try out with a lighter weight improved his accuracy. My friend tended to hit the ball, so it tracked to the left with his regular, seventy-five-gram club. He was delighted to find that when he used a lighter driver, a sixty-five-gram model, his accuracy was greater.
The fitter turned his attention to my friend’s wedge clubs. We all know that the lofts on wedge clubs have increased a lot over the past few years. It can get confusing. It can be challenging to know what the correct gaps between the wedges should be. The fitter looked at my friend’s game as a whole, tracking his performance using all his wedge clubs. A set of wedges with another degree of loft on each would improve his game. So, now he has wedges going up to fifty-eight degrees.
Golf club fitting can save you money
I would advise you to be prepared to pay out for new clubs if the track analysis and the fitter’s expertise show this is what you need. However, many golfers find a golf fitting saves them money.
You know the story. We have all seen players; perhaps we have done this ourselves: you feel that there is something wrong and your clubs aren’t quite right, so you buy a new set. But still the problems remain, you feel unhappy and that you have wasted your money. You might even buy more clubs, but again things don’t feel perfect.
If you go to a trusted golf club fitter, he may recommend some new clubs. But he is just a likely to recommend just a new club head or a new shaft. Or rather than a whole new set of wedges, he may say you need only one extra to fill in a gap. You can be sure that with a good golf club fitter you will never waste money.
Enhancing your skills
A golf fitter will aim to do two things. Get you using clubs which improve your fundamental abilities and compensate for the flaws in your game. It is likely that up until now you have been doing the opposite with your game. You may well have been adapting your game to your clubs. From now on, your clubs will suit your game entirely, and everything will flow more freely. Not only will you will maximize your performance.
But, you can also play with more peace of mind as you are much less likely to get an injury if you have your golf clubs fitted. As the fitter will have looked at your physical attributes as well as your style of play, you will be less likely to be putting pressure on vulnerable areas such as your back and knees.
Proper fitting will take more than two hours. One of the reasons the fitting takes so long is that the fitter will want to know all about you. Your game, your experience, how often you play, and how often you plan to play. The other reason is that you are going to be hitting a lot of balls. Up to one hundred swing shots are usual. These will then be analyzed and benchmarked in the database which the fitter holds. Every aspect of your ball trajectory can be thoroughly examined and matched to the best product, which is out there for you.
This process applies to all shots. Your putter gets fitted after using software to track the roll of the ball after impact, and your wedge clubs will be analyzed taking account your game. Every aspect and every club, not just your driver and your swing, will be put through its paces.
What the golf club fitters say
One of the delights of golf is that it is such an original game. No two players will swing a golf club in precisely the same way. So, it is no surprise that making and fitting golf clubs is a highly skilled aspect of the golf equipment world. There is certification, by the professional clubmakers society, and there is a professional body known as the Golf Clubmakers Association.
To qualify as a top club fitter, you need to understand the game. One very experienced expert in this field is Ed Grabowy; you can find out more about him at the golf doctor.
He has fitted golf clubs for decades. And here is what he says. “The shaft matching a golfer’s swing I’d say is 80 percent of the fitting process, with length, loft, lie and grip making up the other 20 percent.”
The nature of your game is critical. Grabowy divides golfers into swingers and hitters. To get an idea of the differences in styles to look at players like Sergio García or Tiger Woods (hitters) and compare them with Ernie Els or Jack Niklaus (swingers). Hitters rely on power; swingers ‘just let the ball get in the way’. Their action will be smoother but create less acceleration.
The sort of shaft which will suit you best depends on whether you are a swinger or a hitter. A hitter needs a shaft which is stiffer at the bottom while a swinger will benefit from something which has more flex. Swingers will suit a higher torque while hitters will benefit from a lower torque on the shaft. Of course, many golfers are somewhere between the two styles. And that is where the skill of the fitter comes in.
Let go of existing ideas
Many of us come to a golf fitting with preconceived notions. Women and seniors need a less stiff flex, for example. But most expert golf fitters can tell you stories of fitting players where these preconceptions were not correct. It is not just about skill and power. It is also about the style of the game. My advice would be if you are paying an expert, leaving your preconceptions, and your ego at the door. He has no incentive to tell you to need something which you might identify with a less skilled or less intense golfer. Listen to him, and he will improve your game.
I stress here that we are talking about expert golf fitters, not some guy who will offer you three or four choices of shaft or club head after a brief look at your game. For this reason, avoid most sporting superstores who say they offer this service. You are not likely to get the skill level, which will benefit you. Also avoid fitters who work for one manufacturer. It isn’t to say that the company’s products are bad. Indeed, they may be the best for you, but you will not get the full range from which to choose.
As a guide, a proper golf fitting for a full set of clubs will take over two hours, and will involve an in-depth discussion and analysis of your game. If someone is not offering that, you are not going to get the personal attention which you need.
Many golf fitters do not push products on you, they give you advice and charge for that. It is an excellent option from which to choose. Once you know what will suit you best you can go to a sports shop or go on the web to purchase what they have recommended knowing that your money will go a long way.
Of course, your swing can change over time, and this can affect the fitting. The lie angle and the length of the club will be the most likely to need readjustment. A good fitter will question you about your golf history and how you see yourself improving over the next period. If you are relatively new, the changes may be rapid, for an experienced player, the likelihood is that your golf fitting will last a few years.
Golf club fitting conclusion
I hope this run-through has convinced you of the value of an expert golf fitter. To reiterate, don’t waste money at the sporting superstore. Go to a real expert. It will be worth every cent.
I do have to mention one downside of this, though. With your perfectly fitted, clubs you are going to be missing one thing. Have you guessed it yet? You will never be able to blame your clubs for that missed shot again! Welcome to the world of no excuse golfing
Enjoy your golf.