Four Approaches to Club Fitting

Thinking of buying custom-fitted golf clubs? Modern technology is revolutionizing club-fitting techniques. Computers have insinuated themselves into this activity, as with almost everything else. But not everyone likes going to someone who uses modern technology to fit clubs. Some players who took golf lessons from me, for example, preferred a non-technological approach.

Basically, you have four different approaches to club fitting. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Each also provides its own special set of benefits. But before we examine these approaches, there’s one key question you need to answer before deciding on an approach. Will you benefit from custom-fitted clubs?

Will You Benefit?

Experts agree that nearly everyone can benefit from using custom clubs. Unfortunately, custom clubs won’t help everyone to the same degree. Ironically, those players needing the least help-better players with sound repeatable swings-benefit most from custom club fitting, while those players needing the most help-poor players with high golf handicaps-benefit the least.

Who won’t benefit from custom-fitted clubs? Anyone who has a bad back or anyone in the midst of a major weight loss program should probably avoid custom clubs. Also, I usually tell beginners who take my golf lessons to wait awhile before investing in custom-fitted clubs, even if they can buy them inexpensively because their swings will probably change.

On the other hand, anyone with a physical handicap, 6-foot-1 and taller, or 5-foot-8 and shorter, who has average length arms, should probably buy custom clubs. (Can you imagine Shaquille O-Neil using off the rack clubs?) If you fit into one of these categories, or you’re convinced that custom clubs will help you lower your golf handicap, the second question you need to answer is “how will I get fitted”?

A PGA Professional

This approach is the oldest. You’ll get individual attention and probably some pointers on your golf swing while you get fitted. It’s usually done on an outside range, so the PGA pro can see you swing the club, usually a driver with special impact tape on its face. That’s so the pro can see where you hit the ball. Once you’re through hitting drivers, he or she will have you hit a 6-iron with tape on the face also. If the pro is affiliated with a club manufacturer, he’ll probably use a fitting system developed by that company. If not, he or she will probably use an independent system. Some pros have computerized launch monitors, which will hone in your vital stats.

A Club Manufacturer

Some club manufacturers-TaylorMade, Titleist, Wilson, Ping, Callaway-offer club-fitting services directly to the general public. Similar to those services provided by a PGA pro, these fitting centers are far and few between. The experiences differ as well. So can the costs, which can range anywhere from less than $100 to well over $1000. Some of these fitting centers have highly sophisticated electronic equipment, including a computerized body suit that provides perpetual in-motion swing data. The key with this approach is deciding in advance which brand of club you want to buy and then attending the manufacturer’s fitting center.

A Golf Shop

This is probably the weakest of the approaches, but it has its benefits. A golf shop will test you for free and will probably teach you a lot about golf equipment requirements, if you go through a good club fitting session. Some may even have a launch monitor to help with the fitting. The problem with this approach is that the employee may be a good seller of clubs, but he or she may not be that knowledgeable about the golf swing. Hence, he or she could easily miss something that would affect club fitting. Many golf shops excel at fitting. Some even feature authorized club fitters. If you’re going to go this route, ask around first to find out which golf shops are the best.

Custom Golf Fitting Studios

This option is emerging as the approach of choice for many. It usually appears in the form of a privately run golf studio that will fit you for the perfect clubs, shafts, and balls. These studios will scientifically analyze your performance mechanics-your swing profile, shaft loading characteristics, optimum equipment setup, physical characteristics, athletic ability, and so on. They will use special equipment, like high-speed cameras, sensors, and accelerometers, to capture the physics of your swing. And they will have software that compiles your ball velocity, launch angle, spin rates, clubhead speed, and shaft load profiles. It’s all very scientific. These studios are usually non-brand specific. Three- to four-hour sessions can run as high as $200 or $300, possibly even more.

There you have it-four approaches to custom club fitting. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Each provides its own unique set of benefits. As usual, the key is finding the right approach for you. Just remember that some people benefit more from custom club fitting than others.

Copyright (c) 2006 Jack Moorehouse