Why Club Champion Builds Are Better

It’s no secret that custom fitting and custom building go hand-in-hand when considering golf clubs. That’s why, along with our Master Fitters, we employ Master Builders to precisely hand-build each club to the tightest tolerances. We pride ourselves on being a full-service option for all your equipment needs. 

Our builders have an unrivaled process that includes hand-picking weight sorted products, PUREing the shafts, altering the shaft length and swingweight to match the golfer’s specs, and more. The process is built — no pun intended — to yield impeccable golf clubs that can’t be matched by assembly lines or stock options off a shelf. There’s a lot more to the building process than we can cover in this blog but we’re always looking for quality club builders to join our team if you’d like a closer look.  

All that said, this blog is more about the why than the how 

There are a few misconceptions out there about club building. The most persistent is the idea that every club build is essentially the same if you have the right specs. That’s just not the case. The devil is in the details, so to speak. 

Let’s start with loft and lie. Digital loft and lie machines are the standard across the board, but they don’t measure equally. You can take the same set of specs to Club Champion, to an OEM, and to an at-home builder and yield three different clubs…and only one will be the club you tested in our bay if you were fitted at Club Champion. The reason we’re so confident in saying that is because all our loft and lie machines are calibrated to match — from store to store, and from stores to the build shop in Chicagoland. If the machine in Santa Monica measured one thing, the machines here at our HQ will be able to match it. 

We stress the importance of our calibrated machines because we’ve maintained the integrity of consistency. We don’t allow for the kinds of swingweight or loft and lie discrepancies you find with stock builds, and we guarantee that the club you hit in the bay will be the one that is built and shipped to you to play your best golf.  

We also stress our build tolerances. With other builders, you should expect variances of 2-3 degrees of loft and lie, ½ inch or more on length, and swingweight differences. Our builders are expected to deliver clubs within 1/8 of an inch, one degree of variation for loft and lie, and one swingweight point — and we’ve been known to reassemble clubs even within THOSE tolerances to ensure the closest possible match. This becomes extremely important when comparing our custom sets and off-the-rack sets. Most off-the-rack clubs are built in an assembly line where those tolerances aren’t assured and inspected. The assembly line process will have machines automate all the work or have one person cutting the shaft, another gripping and another gluing, and so on. There isn’t much room for consistency and accuracy with expediency is the main goal.  

“With a professionally built club like those we create, one person is doing the build from start to finish. We’re following much tighter tolerances and can offer a much wider range of custom options,” Club Champion founder Nick Sherburne said. “The tolerances for mass-produced clubs are all over the place, which is why a professionally hand-built club is key.” 

It’s worth noting that the 50,000 hittable head and shaft combinations in every store translate to just as many buildable combinations. When you have that sort of variety on your build desk every day, you know you must deliver quality sets every time, and understand the intricacies of each build. Our Master Builders do this day in and day out and can’t be beaten by hobby builders or robots in a warehouse.  

To learn more about the building process or to book a fitting, head to clubchampiongolf.com. 

Club Repairs at Club Champion

We’ve made a name for ourselves in the fitting realm of the golf industry but little do people know, we can perform club repairs, too.

Every Club Champion location has its own miniaturized version of our Chicagoland build shop and can perform repairs in-house depending on the intricacy of the required repair.

Say your clubhead comes loose or a grip is shifting, just get in touch with your fitter/club doctor. Touch-ups like that are easy-peasy and shouldn’t need to be sent off to our Chicagoland facility.

Club length, as well as loft, lie, and swingweight adjustments can usually also be done in-store. Every Club Champion Master Fitter is also trained as a Master Builder. They’re trained to understand the entire club building process partly so they can be an even more effective resource in the fitting bay but also so they can perform the adjustments you need.

Whether your clubs are built by us or not, we’re still inclined to improve your game with the best possible equipment. So, regardless of whether your clubs were built or fitted by us, we can still facilitate repairs! Just head into your local Club Champion for more info.

Say something more severe happens to your club like a club face dent or a shaft snap. Issues like that will usually require a warranty submission, but our team can help with that. We may be able to send certain breaks or damage to our Chicago shop for a fix but anything more intense will have to go through the OEM for a warranty replacement if the break is applicable under their policies.

Regardless, always start with your Club Champion fitter as a resource when your clubs need a little TLC.

If you have any further questions about our repair services or need to schedule a repair, shoot an email to info@clubchampiongolf.com to learn more.

Club Champion’s Winter Golf Guide

Missing the warmer months? We certainly are at Club Champion HQ in Chicago. We’ve compiled some advice for those of you in the same boat — the boat that’s full of snow and ice and freezing temps. Keep your golf game as spry as springtime during the dead of winter with these tips. 

Get a custom fitting 

There was no chance this wasn’t going to be the first thing on our list. I mean, come on, that’s what we do!  

We’ve discussed why we fit indoors and the winter months are just another reason why we do that. All of our fittings are in a temperature-controlled environment without wind, humidity, or other unpleasant weather patterns. In a static indoor environment, you don’t have to worry about anything other than you and your swing. 

Plus, just getting in the bay and keeping your swing on point for when warmer weather arrives isn’t a bad idea. Nor is making sure you get the perfect set fit to you in time for the spring golf season. Since all of the latest and greatest gear drops in the first few months of the year, we’ll give you access to brand new equipment in our bays as soon as they’re made available by the brands. 

Also, between now and 1/31/22, our winter fitting deal is active, so it’s the perfect time to come in and get fit!

Have the right gear 

Yes, this applies to golf clubs, but this tip is more from the clothing and golf ball standpoint.

Wet weather gloves, thermal socks, and several long-sleeved layers will only benefit you on your winter golf outing. Layers may impact your swing, so be mindful that you aren’t over or under-compensating, which may lead to injury. 

Or if you’re one of those football fans who takes their shirt off at playoff games in the snow, I imagine you could do the same thing playing golf. Assuming the golf course allows you to play with no shirt on.

You’ll definitely want to break out your yellow golf balls if you’re playing in frosty conditions. You can find a great variety of golf balls at our locations, including the Srixon Divide golf balls, which feature a two-sided neon colorway that makes finding it in rain, sleet, snow or hail that much easier. 

Take lessons 

One of the biggest misconceptions about our fittings is that they double as a golf lesson. We don’t provide lessons but we can provide you with a perfect club that fits your current swing. That perfect club can help you progress even more quickly with your golf instructor’s help. 

Whether it’s at a range, a course, or another indoor facility, you can find lessons that will help get your golf game to a comfortable level. Say you really need to work on your driver swing (like I do) and you don’t want to get fit until your mind, spirit, and body are in the right place. You’ve got a couple of months before your buddies want to get out on the course, so now is the time! There are indoor facilities all over the place that can help you dial in the foundational improvements you need to hit the course at your peak next season.  

Read, Listen & Watch 

Say the conditions are just too cold and a blizzard rolls through; this doesn’t mean you can’t completely immerse yourself in the game of golf. 

Whether it’s reading this blog or watching our YouTube channel, we’ve got a plethora of golf equipment content ready for you! You can learn all about our fitting processes, golf terms, what the difference is between aftermarket and stock shafts as well as what great options we have on our walls for you in all of our locations. 

We also have the Fits With the Founder podcast, hosted by our founder Nick Sherburne. Alongside our Marketing Director and social media guru, Cassie Bausch, our podcast covers all of the top golf news and gets into some wacky hypotheticals about the golf world, with special guest interviews from some of the top names in golf! 

If you have room in your house, you may even be able to break out your fitted set and take a few swings and learn from an instructional video to maximize your swing before the weather warms up. If you don’t have the room, maybe just put your clubs in the corner of the room and stare at them until your swing becomes immaculate. 

There are also several Tour events that happen in the winter months, so it’ll be easy to keep up with your favorite pro golfers while you’re stuck inside. 

To book a fitting or to find more equipment content to keep you warm during the winter months, head to clubchampiongolf.com! 

Club Champion University: The Master Club Fitter Education Program

A Master’s Degree doesn’t just fall into anyone’s lap. It takes grueling study and masterful practical sessions to be able to call yourself the Master of anything.

That said, you don’t have to go back to college for this Master’s degree and you won’t even have to plead a case to Jedi Master Mace Windu.

All you have to do to get this club fitting Master’s Degree is to take a seat in Club Champion University (CCU).

The Curriculum

The road to becoming a Master Fitter begins at the Club Champion Headquarters in Willowbrook, IL. Once there, fitters and their fellow classmates begin a four-week training program constructed to make Master Fitters out of every single new hire, regardless of background.

CCU Professor and Master Fitter Brad Syslo

“There’s no hands-on training experience like it in the golf industry,” CCU Professor and Master Fitter Brad Syslo said. “We’ve built a program from the ground up and put together some of the best fitting knowledge in golf into a single program.”

With Syslo and our Founder/Dean of CCU, Nick Sherburne, at the helm, trainees learn the ins and outs of a Club Champion club fitting from over 50 combined years of club fitting experience. The two teach lessons, assign homework and allow the trainees to perform practicals and hands-on fittings in the Chicagoland stores.

“It’s one of, if not the most, intense fitting courses you can find,” said Sherburne. “We’ve teamed up with other minds to ensure that every fitter that comes through CCU earns the rank of Master.”

The Content

CCU has a textbook with over 200 pages of instructions and hypothetical examples of different fits. This textbook is paired with over 250 hours of online task portals that are tracked throughout the training process.

The bookwork provides a great foundation before each trainee is put to the test with practical sessions. Dispersed amongst multiple Chicagoland locations, each master-in-training gets hands-on experience with real golfers, conducting actual fittings with trainers observing in the bay. Trainees are also taught how to build and adjust clubs so they understand a customer’s golf club from the component stage all the way to the customer’s bag and beyond.

“Sometimes, you just have to run before you can walk,” Sherburne said. “The trainees are being supervised by Master Fitters during their first couple of rounds but after that, they’re expected to have grown from their training.”

Many of the fitters hired at Club Champion already have prior golf industry experience, but it isn’t required to become a Master Fitter. A familiarity with the golf industry is always preferred but passionate golfers with no previous experience can sometimes turn into the most effective fitters since they have a hunger for the process.

Included in the course is in-person presentations provided by OEM partners like TaylorMade, Mizuno, Edel, Bettinardi, and many more to ensure that every fitter knows the ins and outs of the current technology. Graduating from CCU is only step one!

The Graduation and Epilogue

After the four weeks are up and the fitter has completed their training and earned certifications from the OEM partners, it is time for them to officially graduate from Club Champion University as Master Fitters. The new class of Master Fitters are then sent to one of the many locations nationwide to help lower the scores of golfers everywhere.

But, unlike the usual graduation ceremony where you may have received a copy of Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss and you’re sent off to live life, this Master’s Program has an Epilogue.

To ensure Club Champion fitters are consistently the most highly trained in the industry, they receive bi-weekly training so the process remains the same from coast-to-coast. The online portal they gain access to during training stays open so they can take recurrency exams and have all the up-to-date information on new products. This level of training is unmatched by any other golf club fitter you’ll find.

“As a PGA professional who has taught thousands of lessons and conducted hundreds of fits, it is impossible to reach your fitting potential without proper knowledge of the art,” Mike K. of our Owings Mills store said. “It was not until I started fitting for Club Champion that I realized the power of what we do here as fitters, CCU is game changing!”

Club fitting in general is game changing, but the steps Club Champion takes to make sure our Master Fitters match our process truly separates us from the rest of the pack.

To learn more or to book a fitting with one of our Master Fitters, head to clubchampiongolf.com.

Beyond the Ball: Gifts for Golfers

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…again. If you’re like me and you constantly have to remind yourself that time itself is fleeting and 2021 flew by in a blink, here is your reminder: it’s the holiday season once again!

To ease you into the happiest and somehow simultaneously the most stressful season, we’ve compiled a list of our hottest products and deals to help you find the perfect golf gifts for your favorite playing partner.

Club Champion All-Inclusive Driver and Putter Fitting Experiences

We’d be remiss if we skipped the self-promotion but we truly think any golfer would love our all-in fitting + custom club packages. And you’ll love them, too: for the first time, we’re bundling the fitting experience and the custom-built club into one package for a flat fee. No guesswork, no worries.

Even better, the driver and putter bundles come in their own box so you can physically hand someone the gift of better golf (or stuff it in a stocking, leave it on their pillow — whatever floats your holiday boat).

The Driver Fitting Experience box contains a certificate good for a comprehensive 1.5 hour driver fitting session and a custom-built driver, along with a few small Club Champion surprises. All told, the VIP experience will run you $1,000 and will cover every aspect of a new boomstick for the golfer in your life.

The Putter Fitting Experience is the same idea but for your short stick. This box retails for $500 for a 1-hour SAM PuttLab putter fitting and a custom putter, which is an unbeatable value.

These gift box experiences are limited in number, so head to club-champion.myshopify.com to jump on these opportunities before they’re gone!

Golf Balls

Many people don’t realize that we also carry all the top golf ball brands in the industry to help give you

the perfect fit, right down to the ball you use. Whether you’re a Titleist Pro V1 loyalist or need a dash of color with a Srixon Q-Star Tour Divide ball, we’ve got ‘em all!

You are able to walk into any of our stores right now and purchase golf balls. They are the icing on the cake for a perfect golf gift!

Golf Digest and SiriusXM Subscriptions

If you’re looking to ensure that your favorite golfer is always up-to-date on the golf world, subscriptions to Golf Digest or SiriusXM will tickle their fancy!

Golf Digest and PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM are two of the best sources out there to stay on top of Tour news and instruction. Plus, our founder Nick Sherburne and our fitters are frequently featured on both platforms so your favorite golfer can learn more about Club Champion while they catch the latest gab from the greens.

Theragun

The holidays are a feel-good time of year. Why not feel good about giving a friend or loved one the gift of relaxed muscles and joints, and an even more relaxed golf game?

Club Champion is an official Therabody retailer and carries four versions of their revolutionary percussive therapy device, the Theragun. Club Champion carries the PRO, Elite, Prime and Mini and each version is ready to help relieve nagging pains and stiffness after a tough round. With varying speeds and interchangeable heads, a Theragun session before, during and after a round will maximize the body’s performance and recovery on and off the course.

After all, why not make the holidays more relaxed and comfortable for someone at home or on the golf course after all the stress holiday shopping provides!

Tickets to a PGA or LPGA Event

Obviously, the dead of winter seems like an odd time to purchase tickets to an outdoor event. But if you have the opportunity to gift someone tickets to a pro golf event, you’ll be ahead of the game — literally.

Tickets for select events can be purchased through the event websites and a schedule of events can be found on the PGA and LPGA sites.

Arccos Sensors

Tracking technology has truly revolutionized the golf game. With Arccos Sensors, you’ll be giving your favorite golfer a fastpass to the next generation of golf.

With Arccos Sensors, the next step beyond getting fit for clubs is now available at Club Champion. By inserting Arccos Sensors into golf clubs and using the companion smartphone app, golfers will have access to extensive data needed to improve their game and keep them consistent.

Club Champion Gift Card

A fitting is truly the gift that keeps on giving and a Club Champion gift card can give your favorite golfer that and much more!

A Club Champion gift card can be used to purchase both equipment and fittings at Club Champion. Your favorite golfer can get even more out of their gift card if they book a fitting with it in hand before 1/31/22 because the Club Champion winter fitting deal is ongoing!

At every Club Champion location across the country from now until 1/31/22, our fitting fees are 50% off with an equipment purchase of $500 or more! Plus, for those who missed Putter Fitting Month, putter fittings will receive 50% off their fitting fee with the purchase of any new putter.

For more information on any of our holiday gifts or the winter fitting deal, head to clubchampiongolf.com or shoot any questions or comments to info@clubchampiongolf.com. Happy holidays, golfers!

Club Connections: The Key To An Agnostic Fitting

For over a decade, Club Champion has provided golfers with a massive number of possible club combinations in a fitting. That number has steadily grown over the years and now sits at over 50,000 hittable options in each store!

But it’s easier said than done — the secret’s in the sauce and at Club Champion, the secret sauce is the quick connects system.

The quick connects is an adapter piece, not entirely different from the loft sleeve, that allows a fitter to pair any head and shaft from the demo matrix to create a custom club that can be tested in real-time. This piece allows Club Champion to uphold their cardinal tenet of brand agnosticism to fit golfers into a club or set of clubs that works, regardless of brand.

Say you needed an extremely stiff True Temper HZRDUS Smoke Green shaft paired with your Titleist TSi4 driver head so you keep high spin and responsiveness without sacrificing launch. The quick connects systems can join those together to create a level of synergy only comparable to the likes of peanut butter and jelly, Jordan and Pippen, or lemonade and iced tea.

When comparing the loft sleeve to the connection system, they’re similar in the sense that they allow for quick adjustments; however, unlike the loft sleeve, the quick connects system allows the shaft and clubhead to be completely separated to swap something else in.

The most powerful characteristic of the quick connects system is its ability to give you access to literally every combination. Many golfers come to a fitting with a brand or model in mind because that’s what they’ve experienced in the past. At Club Champion, nothing is off-limits because their Master Fitters aren’t limited to just stock options or a few bags of pre-built clubs.

Okay, so what’s the catch? Frankly, there isn’t one but a common counterpoint to a quick adapter system like the one at Club Champion is that it adds weight to the clubs you’re testing. While this is true, the weight is minimal and it is taken into consideration by the fitter during your session when deciding on final specs like swingweight. If we want to test every possible combo to find the best fit, we have to have a system sturdy enough to take the force of repeated golf swings to do it — the alternate option is to stick with pre-built clubs that can’t be customized. As hundreds of thousands of fitted golfers can attest, the positives completely outweigh the negatives. Pun intended.

All in all, there are many factors that make Club Champion fittings the best in the industry. But the 50K+ combinations in every store are an incredible asset to any golfer looking for their best possible equipment and it’s all made possible by the quick connects adapter system.

Take a closer look at the club connection system during a fitting! Book here.

How often should you get fit for clubs?

It’d almost be too easy to write, “Get a custom fitting every year so you can have the latest, greatest and shiniest products from the top brands in golf!” See? Incredibly easy.

However, regardless of what you might hear, there’s absolutely no reason that every golfer should be fitted that frequently. That’d be the definition of overkill and pretty expensive, so let’s pull back and take a look at the optimal (and realistic) cadence for custom club fittings.

Woods

The boomsticks in your bag will typically last you around 2-3 years after a fitting, depending on how you age and how the club ages as well. If you’re starting to top and slice the ball or you’re not getting the same distance you once were, it’s time to go get re-fit.

Keep in mind, a fitting doesn’t always result in a brand new club. You may need a loft adjustment or a more optimized shaft or even something as simple as a new grip. The club technology available today is arguably still going to be incredible in a couple years, you just have to make sure it’s still incredible for you.

Rule of thumb is to check in with your club doctor (fitter) every couple of years to make sure you aren’t leaving distance on the course and aren’t working against your natural swing motion.

Irons

Irons are a little longer lasting than your woods. Fitted irons can get you through about 4-5 years without needing any replacements. But there’s one caveat: lofts and lies.

Your fitted irons are built to precision and are made to last. Part of this is the design and technology, part of it is sheer use percentage. But the lofts and lies of your irons change over time from use and also storage, leaning on clubs, repeated impact on practice mats, etc.

You should be getting your lofts and lies looked at annually, but you can hold out on a whole new set for a few years after a fitting, barring any big swing or body changes.

Wedges

Wedges are all about that bite, baby. Their lifespan isn’t quite as long as irons — an average of 1-2 years depending on usage — but there are a lot of variables that go into a wedge’s longevity. You never want worn grooves in the bag but you may pull the trusty 60 degree wedge three times as often as you pull anything else, so that wedge’s lifespan is unique.

Rule of thumb with your wedges is to replace them every 80 rounds or so, but monitor the wedge face and keep an eye on performance. If those grooves aren’t grinding for you, it’s time for a replacement.

Putter

The putter is the wild card of the fitting world. It’s also the most impactful part of your bag, but we’ve covered that in previous posts. Wear and tear isn’t as big of a factor with the flatstick so your putter might last you literal decades if you check in on loft and other metrics, and regrip as necessary.

But if you start missing left or leaving putts short, or if you make a big change in your putter grip or even your body type, it can’t hurt to bring your gamer in and check your stats on SAM PuttLab.

Rule of thumb here isn’t a rule so much as a guideline: if you’ve never been fitted for a putter, do it. If you have, maintain your short game health by checking in annually and listening to your body if you feel like something is amiss.

Long story short, “new” isn’t necessarily better. It’s tempting to test all the new toys but at the end of the day, the latest club technology isn’t (usually) blowing last year’s models out of the water. So if your clubs are performing to the best of their ability and you’re performing to the best of yours, then we’ll see you later on! If they aren’t, we’ll see you soon!

Q&A: Getting to Know Club Champion’s Founder, Nick Sherburne

1. How did Club Champion start?

I’ve been in and around the golf industry my whole life. I found my way into club fitting in 1998 at a place called EJL Golf. The “Steve Jobs started in a garage” story is sort of the skeleton of ours, too. Golf was just a passion of mine and I wanted to ensure others enjoyed it as much as I did. The best way to do that was to get people the best equipment for them. Club fitting has always been a part of the sport of golf but as time has passed, the technology behind club fitting has greatly improved. With EJL, our knowledge grew as technology advanced and we had more customers than we knew what to do with. Then, in 2010, Club Champion was founded out of EJL Golf and ever since, it’s been a runaway train — we now have over 90 locations across the U.S. with plans to expand further. Before the mass availability of TrackMan launch monitors, SST PUREing machines, SAM PuttLabs, and more, fitting was limited to Tour pros and an upper echelon of golfers. Now, we can give every golfer a Tour-level fitting experience.

2. What is the most challenging part of a club fitting?

Having 50,000 combos in your face can sometimes create a Netflix effect — too many options, not enough time. Our fitters are trained to dial in the best profiles and options pretty quickly but sometimes you get the golf nut who wants to try everything and we want to provide that experience. Our massive wall of demo options is one of my favorite things but it’s sometimes a double-edged sword.

3. Speaking of, do you ever say no to carrying certain brands or equipment?

We pride ourselves on being brand agnostic and fitting golfers into the best possible equipment for their swing, rather than what looks coolest in their bag. I’ll look at and invest in brands that believe in the science of golf and the betterment of golfers. I sometimes have to say no for logistical reasons, but it’s rare! My phone and email are always open to new brands and innovations from both the big guys and the small businesses out of a garage. I hope that the number of possible club combinations never stops growing because that also means that the number of golfers that we can help keeps increasing as well.

4. Bryson DeChambeau has been one of golf’s most consistent and significant distance players and is known for his quirky equipment choices. How do you feel about One Length, armlock, longer drivers and the other equipment trends that Bryson brings attention to?

Bryson’s a unique guy to talk about when it comes to equipment and science as it relates to golf and performance. We love having him on our team because he approaches golf exactly the way we do: by looking at the data and always striving for that next best thing. When it comes to single-length clubs or armlock or any trend off the beaten path, I’d have to say I stand by what Club Champion is all about. Every golfer and every swing is different. The reason we have as many equipment options as we do is because of that fact. One Length as a concept is super interesting and it works for a fair amount of people. But nothing is one-size-fits-all. At the end of the day, I’m taking the golfer in my bay into consideration, and nothing else. That said, if you think that I haven’t tested every one of Bryson’s components or fitted someone into armlock putters or what have you, you’d be wrong. It’s all about the science but science can be fun.

5. What’s the oldest set of clubs you’ve ever seen brought into a fitting?

I’ve seen weird brands, foreign equipment, knockoff clubs, and clubs so rusty you’d think they were 100 years old. But I had a guy come in with clubs that were nearly 50 years old. He was a scratch golfer and couldn’t part from his iron set outside of regripping them every so often. Contrary to what some people think, Club Champion actually fits existing clubs all the time, so we got this guy into the bay with these relics. We changed out his shafts, got him some new grips and he increased his distance with 50-year-old iron heads. I just love that I still can be surprised even 20-some years into this by what equipment and fitting tech can do for each other.

6. Let’s say you transported Bobby Jones, Gary Player or even Jack Nicklaus in their prime to today and got them in for a club fitting. Do you think they’d be even greater with the modern fitted equipment?

No doubt in my mind. The level at which those guys and even pros now play is just unfathomable for your regular weekend warrior, but they were doing it before so much innovation and science were applied to sports. And it’s not even just the club designs, it’s also launch monitors and other assets that help golfers better understand what they’re doing and what they can change. There are days when Bill Belichick’s philosophy of, “A statistic isn’t the reason why we missed tackles,” is true, but could you imagine having a peak Jack Nicklaus play against Justin Thomas or Jon Rahm, armed with not only fitted equipment but knowledge of every angle of his game? I love JT and Rahm, but I think Nicklaus with TrackMan data and 2021 club models in his bag is wiping the floor with them in this hypothetical match.

7. Where do you see Club Champion in five years?

When I look back five years, it’s crazy to see how far we’ve come. I’m proud to say that we’re a flag carrier in the field of club fitting and I think we’ve seen a massive shift in perception even just the last few years. Golfers are smarter, they have access to more technology, they interact more directly with pros, there are more golf retailers, and so on. The 2021 landscape for golf in general is wild, but club fitting in particular is seeing some massive movement as people realize that, like anything else, their hobby is more fun when they’re performing at their best.

In terms of where I think we’ll be in five years, this is sort of a cop-out but I think the answer is that there’s no limit. It’s cheesy but think about it. When we started, we were thrilled to be a local fitting business with three locations in the Chicago area. Now, we’re about to open our 100th location, we’re looking at international expansion, we employ hundreds of people nationwide, we work with some of the biggest names in golf…I’m not sure that I even want to come up with a goal because I’d rather just keep outperforming even my own expectations. Which is why we’re so hung up on words like “best” and “better” — we’re constantly searching for the next best thing, which it’s a club combination or the next spot for a Club Champion studio. Who knows what that’ll be in five years, but I’m excited to find out.

To hear more from Nick, check out our YouTube page and Club Champion’s official podcast, Fits with the Founder.

Aftermarket Shafts vs. Stock Shafts

There’s a lot of hoopla out there about “aftermarket” shafts and their superiority over the stock/standard shafts that come in clubs bought off-the-shelf. So what’s marketing and what actually makes a difference?

“Aftermarket” by definition describes a shaft that’s made with higher quality materials and is generally not mass produced the way a stock item might be. For example, many aftermarket shafts are hand-rolled in small batches, versus most stock offerings that are created in bulk by an assembly line system. This variance in the creation process allows for more quality control with aftermarket shafts, since the process is more controlled from the outset.

But what other differences are there between the two, and is an aftermarket shaft really worth it? Let’s explore.

The Makeup

To begin with, we have straight-up looks. There’s generally not a lot of visual cues to tell you that a club is stock or aftermarket. The paint jobs tend to be the same, though there are many companies that sell only aftermarket options or will allocate certain shaft families as an aftermarket purchase — this means there is no “stock” version of that shaft model.

Then there are the raw materials used to actually create the product. An aftermarket shaft will utilize better materials, like high-end carbon fibers, and a more sophisticated blending process to create strength and durability where it’s needed most. Generally, these blended materials make the shaft more resistant to unwanted and unnecessary twisting during the swing, especially on impact with the ball.

In short: it makes your swing smoother and more consistent.

Stock shafts tend to be made with lower-quality materials because of sheer volume — when you’re producing hundreds of thousands of clubs, you aren’t trying to spend a ton of the shaft when the clubhead is the main focus. In some cases, stock shafts can cost literally pennies on the dollar for larger OEMs with massive outputs.

Because of the material and production differences, there’s usually a price tag difference as well. While they may look identical on the outside, the aftermarket version of a shaft is housing better performance and for most golfers, that’s worth a slight increase in cost.

“People are under the impression that a form of graphite is just mixed into these shafts and they don’t really get why aftermarket shafts are more expensive,” said Club Champion founder Nick Sherburne. “There’s much more to it than that, and the great thing about a fitting is that you can see the results for yourself. I nearly never see a stock shaft outperform an aftermarket option and when I do, there’s usually another factor like a budget constraint playing a role.”

The Results

Speaking of results, PluggedIn Golf conducted a study with Club Champion to show the difference in distance an aftermarket shaft can provide. The study found that aftermarket shafts can be swung faster, have faster ball speeds, and provide more carry distance and overall total distance.

It’s worth noting that there’s nothing wrong with stock shafts, necessarily — many OEMs are partnering with shaft companies to offer more than just run-of-the-mill steel or low-end graphite offerings. However, like anything else with a custom club fitting, the point isn’t to find what works; it’s to find what’s best. Any shaft can help bring the clubhead around and into the ball, but you may be sacrificing distance, accuracy, repeatability and more, or even risking injury, by sticking with something that doesn’t suit you.

Stock shafts are created to serve the largest number of people, and therefore take your unique qualities out of play. Aftermarket shafts can more effectively be fine-tuned to your needs. Any golfer who’s willing to get fitted will see the benefits of aftermarket options in their data, and in our experience, the extra 10-20 yards or tighter dispersion or better feel (etc., etc., and so on) is worth a slightly more expensive price tag since it translates to real results on the course.

If you have any further questions regarding aftermarket shafts, send a note to info@clubchampiongolf.com to learn more.

Ready to get fit for your perfect shaft? Click here to book a fitting.

Breakdown: SAM PuttLab Technology

To continue our month-long celebration of the flatstick, we’re breaking down the Science & Motion (SAM) PuttLab technology found in every Club Champion studio and how it helps fitters to find your perfect putter.

For most golfers, putts make up around 40% of the strokes on a scorecard. In nearly every round, you’ll use your putter on every single hole — it’s the only club in the bag that gets that much mileage. So why not employ the gold standard when it comes to putter fitting technology?

Let’s break down how the technology actually works. SAM uses ultrasound scanners and lasers to track the core function of dozens of different putting parameters. There are a lot of factors that go into a putting stroke and SAM takes all of them into account. The machine tracks where you make impact, how your striking speed differs or compares to your tap-ins, your stroke path, and many, many more elements.

The SAM Triplett tracks the motion of the club during your stroke.

You’ll see a funny-looking machine in a Club Champion putter studio, called the SAM BaseUnit, that uses attachable lasers to show precisely where the putter is aimed. There are also overhead projectors that illustrate the correct break of the green and motion capture systems to track the “before,” “during,” and “after” of the stroke.

All the tracking and data is recorded in real-time, so you’ll be able to see what you’re doing while you’re doing it. But the comprehensive analysis reports that SAM provides are where the real magic happens.

Based on the information generated from first testing your gamer and then testing a few other putter options, your fitter will be able to recommend the best combination of elements to suit your unique needs. Putter length, toe hang, head style, loft, even grip size — everything can be dialed in using the data generated by SAM and the knowledge of a Club Champion fitter on both the fitting tech and the putter options available on the market today.

After a putter fitting, 40% of your game can be 100% fitted to you. Book a Club Champion putter fitting on the unmatched SAM PuttLab at Club Champion today — and don’t forget, for the month of September, that fitting is FREE when you purchase a putter!

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