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.

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.

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!

Golf Health at Club Champion

There’s a lot more to the game of golf than equipment.

While our primary goal is to find the best possible clubs for your unique swing, we also want to ensure that your muscles and joints maintain their health so that you can enjoy the game of golf for as long as possible.

An easy jumping off point for this blog about your golf health is to flash back to our post about how to prepare for your fitting.

During one of our fittings, you’re going to hit hundreds of balls in the bay. We always encourage you to stretch before the fitting to prevent any pain or injury afterward. We also keep nutritious snacks and water to help fuel you during your fitting. Whether you’re hitting one ball or one hundred, a golf swing can wreak havoc on your body and you need to be prepared to safely perform at your best.

From an equipment standpoint, a set that works with your swing motion instead of against it can tremendously improve your score but also your health on the course. Say you currently play with an old set of irons that are too short but you make them work. That overcompensation requires you to bend down, forcing you into an awkward position to swing. This not only hinders your full range of motion but it invites injury.

From a body standpoint, stretching is one of the most important things you can do to maintain a healthy body and lifestyle, especially on the golf course. Generally, stretching is a great way to decrease soreness and pain in your muscles and joints, as well as improve posture and range of motion. It can even help relieve stress, which is a welcome side effect for most golfers.

It doesn’t take much to translate what good posture and solid range of motion can do for your golf game. Elbow soreness, knee soreness, back soreness, etc. are all commonalities for golfers and without stretching, those commonalities can become repeatedly or permanently painful. Stretching can mitigate or eliminate those issues for better health and better results when you play.

A set of perfectly fitted clubs pairs well with a thorough stretching session, but there’s a third element that can take your game to the next level. Therabody’s revolutionary percussive therapy, Theragun, is sold at 40 Club Champion locations nationwide and all four versions of the Theragun – the PRO, Elite, Prime and Mini – are 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 your round will maximize your body’s performance and recovery on and off the course.

If you’re looking to improve your golf game and your lifestyle, Club Champion’s got all the bases covered.

Book a fitting today!

Fitting existing sets

It may come as a surprise, but we love to fit existing sets at Club Champion. Golfers frequently bring in clubs that are 5, 10, 15, and sometimes even 50 years old! While we always recommend the equipment that performs the best, sometimes that means sticking with the tried and true.

For those with an attachment to their current set, there might be a reason: maybe there’s an emotional attachment but sometimes, we see older sets that can perform wonderfully. The ol’ “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality is not lost on the golf industry.

The moral of the story: not every club fitting results in a brand new set.

But you might be wondering, “How does that change the fitting process?” Great question.

We’re going to take those Titleist AP2 712 irons from 2011 and have you set some baseline data with them so we can ensure that you aren’t sacrificing performance for nostalgia. We’ll analyze all your data points, your striking, etc. and see if there are small tweaks like loft and lie adjustments that can milk even more out of the set.

At that point, we’ll discuss shaft upgrades or other updates. Sometimes we keep the clubheads and upgrade the rest; sometimes all you need is a quick loft adjustment and a new grip. It’s all relative and we have thousands of ways to optimize what you already have in the bag. It’s all about blending the old and the new for the best possible performance.

Some golfers might ask, “If I’m spending the time to get fit, shouldn’t I just roll with the latest technology?”

Take it from me — I play Select Model Pro Design irons from before I was born. I got them adjusted and I’ve never played better golf. We’re talking about saving seven strokes (or more) per round compared to pre-fitting Danny. Had my fitter found something that blew these out of the water, I would have absolutely considered a new set. But sometimes, the devil you know leads to better scores than the devil you don’t.

If you’re sold on upgrading your existing set, just talk to your fitter about your options. The great thing about custom fittings is that they’re, well…custom. Let us help you find the best configuration, even if that means holding onto elements from back in the day.

Click here to schedule a fitting.

All About SST PURE

Could you define “plane of oscillation” without Googling it? Good. Neither could I before I started working at Club Champion.

Even with the definition for context, I imagine you’re still unclear how it relates to golf. For the sake of this blog, it relates directly to the SST PURE process. This process is designed to make you hit the golf ball straighter and more consistently, with less deterioration.

We like to call PUREing the golf industry’s best kept secret, but the problem with secrets is: people don’t know about them. The ins and outs of the PUREing process can be confusing so let’s break it down and explain how PUREd clubs = better clubs.

What is SST PURE?

It is a shaft alignment process that analyzes and ensures a golf shaft is installed in a clubhead at its most stable orientation. Any cylindrical object can be PUREd. Pipes, fishing rods and even a Pringles can all have a perfect alignment — the SST PURE system finds that alignment and makes it a reality.

For golfers specifically, this means more consistency in your swings. Consistency means more repeatable successes (and a better understanding of your misses) which leads to better performance.

Why do shafts need to be PUREd?

Golf shafts are like fingerprints; no two are the same. In the manufacturing process, any little thing can create the smallest irregularity in a shaft’s straightness, roundness and stiffness.

Structural imperfections may give a shaft its personality, but they can also lead to inconsistencies that your body needs to overcome during a golf swing. SST PUREing pinpoints imperfections to find the ideal plane of oscillation (I hope you paid attention above!) to minimize or eliminate those inconsistencies. Additionally, any shaft can be PUREd: graphite, steel or otherwise.

What are the benefits to having my shafts PUREd?

The simple answer: better golf. The longer answer: the process adds a level of consistency to your swing and ball flight that is otherwise unachievable with imperfect shafts. Instead of working against the torque of the club, your body can swing though more effortlessly for a cleaner impact and softer feel.

How much does PUREing cost?

Club Champion charges $35 to PURE new shafts and builds that cost into the price of wood shafts.

RetroPUREing, or PUREing clubs that were previously assembled, is also an option. It is a bit more costly due to the disassembling/reassembling that is required (about $80 per shaft at Club Champion).

What else should I know about SST PURE?

Almost $2 billion has been won on the professional tours by golfers with PUREd shafts. Everyone from Tiger Woods to Lexi Thompson has experienced the benefits of SST PUREd shafts during a tournament.

On a more personal note, I’ve gotten to actually PURE a fair amount of shafts myself — I may have even done your set! The coolest thing to me is that the machine itself looks like something straight out of the Bat Cave. Working on the machine literally makes me feel like Batman trying to track down the Joker using crazy technology — who wouldn’t want to feel like Batman?

In conclusion…

The SST PURE process helps you play better golf by making your shaft perform better. We believe in it so ardently that our founder, Nick Sherburne, said on our Fits With the Founder podcast, “If you’re not gonna PURE your golf clubs, you’re doing it wrong. I’m just going to be that blunt with you.”

How to prepare for your fitting

So you want to upgrade your golf game.

You’ve heard great things about custom fittings and that Club Champion is the best place to go, so you booked an appointment and you’re dreaming of lower scores. But how do you get the most out of your fitting?

Here are some of our best tips to maximize your time and fitting session:

1) Bring your current clubs

Whether you want new clubs or just want to upgrade your current set, you’re going to need to bring your existing gamers. It seems self-explanatory, but in order to hone in on areas of improvement, we need to set a performance baseline with what you’ve got. 

Note: For travelers or people who do not currently own a set, we can still perform a fitting without your existing clubs. We just recommend against this so we can show you measurable improvement by comparing your baseline to the combinations we try in the bay.

2) Wear comfy golf clothes

It’s not so much about style as it is about being comfortable while you’re hitting. We’ll explain it further down, but it’s important to wear clothes that don’t hinder your swing. Further, it’s important to wear clothing that will keep you comfortable over the course of a few hours.

3) Be on time

Make sure you know the address of your Club Champion and plan to arrive about 15 minutes ahead of your start time. You are paying for time, after all, so be ready to maximize every minute. This also gives you plenty of time to stretch, which is highly recommended.

4) Know your goals

One of the first things your fitter will ask is what you want to get out of your fitting. Wanting lower scores is a fine answer, but we need a plan of attack to get you that lower score. For example, do you want to hit the ball farther? Do you need more accuracy on your approaches? Do you three-putt every time? Knowing the specific areas of your game that you want to improve will only make your fitting session better.

5) Be ready to swing

Depending on the type of fitting you’re getting, you could be hitting hundreds of golf balls. That’s right, hundreds. Bolded and italicized. 

That’s why we mentioned wearing comfy clothes above. You could be in the fitting bay for hours. Make sure you don’t come to your fitting right after you run a half-marathon or if you’ve just eaten a hefty portion of chicken alfredo. You probably won’t feel at your best during your fitting, which means you won’t hit your best. 

We already mentioned stretching, but keep strength and stamina in mind as well. Our stores have snacks and water to keep you hydrated and energized, but you’re welcome to bring your own energy-boosters as well. 

6) Know your budget

Talking money is never fun. But, it’s extremely important that you communicate with your fitter about your budget and cost concerns. We have stock options and lower-price points available because we want to fit everyone. 

You shouldn’t feel uncomfortable making your budget known to your fitter because in the long run, he or she will be able to fit you into realistic components that best suit your game and your wallet.

7) Have an open mind

This is critical for golfers who’ve never been fit as well as returning customers. We’ve built our company on brand agnosticism — we now have over 50,000 hittable club combinations and club components from over 50 manufacturers. Our fitters are trained to be brand agnostic, but many of our customers aren’t.

More often than not, someone who comes in with a specific brand in mind ends up finding better numbers with something else. Golfers are more than welcome to test the latest and greatest from their favorite brands but we try to encourage branching out so we can be sure that brand is truly the best for your specific needs. Fittings are meant to find the best option for your swing – not the option that hooked you with the best commercials.

8) Have fun!

Your fitting shouldn’t be a stressful process. A bit tiring, sure, but the tips above should help you get the most out of your fitting. Many golfers have never experienced any fitting, let alone the comprehensive process at Club Champion, so relax and enjoy the process!

For more information or to book a fitting, please visit clubchampiongolf.com.

Why does Club Champion fit indoors?

We get this question a lot.

What consistently makes us the top club fitter in the nation is our consistency across our 80+ locations. The weather in all of our locations will be perfect and there will be no external variables hindering your data.

All of our fittings are in a temperature-controlled environment without wind, humidity, or other unpleasant weather phenomenons. In a static indoor environment, you don’t have to worry about anything other than you and your swing.

The most common follow-up question is about grass versus artificial turf. Again, consistency is key.

In each of our fitting bays, we use Fiberbuilt mats that perform very close to turf and the TrackMan technology has proven that. Some small outlying factors may exist, but Fiberbuilt has been tested and performed at levels proven to be very similar to grass. The low friction fibers in the Fiberbuilt mats avoid grabbing or twisting the club on iron swings, while fairway woods and hybrids sweep through for pure ball contact. This yields accurate launch angles and ball spin, with no club head bounce. You can consistently swing down and through the Fiberbuilt, leaving ground deficiencies out of the equation in your swings. This also eliminates any issues with uneven grass, dryness, or other variables that might come along with natural grass.

Consistency is massively important in the game of golf, so it should be a no-brainer in your club fitting.

Book yours: clubchampiongolf.com

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