-By Byron Huff, Senior Golf INSIDER
It has long been acknowledged that all else being equal, the golfer who plays with custom-fitted clubs has a built-in, distinct advantage over one who merely plays with random equipment. The question for the club fitter ultimately becomes: “How can we ensure that no stone is left unturned in our quest, through custom club fitting, to provide the very best and most suitable equipment for our client?”
Club Champion believes it has found the answer to this question, and word-of-mouth of the success it has achieved with local golfers here in Orlando, Florida, led me to seek it out (Club Champion is located in over 30 cities across the US). In need of clubs that fit both my physical and playing characteristics, and acting on a referral from a fellow competitor in a Florida State Golf Association event, I decided to make an appointment.
An Antidote for Senior Golfers
As a senior golfer who has watched his yardages shrink with each passing year, I was ready. I sorely needed a new set of clubs, but I hadn’t delved into club fitting beyond the use of a lie board, so I had no idea what to expect.
Upon my early arrival at the facility, as I waited my turn I couldn’t help but notice the incredible array of club components neatly arranged on the wall. There were grips, shafts and club heads of every size, shape, and manufacturer. There were two large hitting bays, each outfitted with a TrackMan, an amazing electronic device that utilizes golf radar technology to analyze every facet of your golf shot. And next to the waiting area was a nicely outfitted putting area.
As I waited, the gentleman with whom I had my appointment, Rob, came over and introduced himself. He then told me about the Club Champion company and proceeded to give me a pleasant explanation as to what was in store for me during the next two hours. I was genuinely looking forward to the experience, and in short, I was not disappointed.
After I hit a few warmup shots in the hitting bay, the playing characteristics of the clubs I already owned were calibrated, to be compared later against the TrackMan numbers generated with clubs especially custom fitted for me. The TrackMan calculates club head and ball speed, smash factor (how solidly the ball is struck), launch angle, spin rate, land angle, height, carry, total distance, side spin, attack angle (approaching impact), club path, face angle (at impact) and dynamic loft (effective loft at impact, taking into account a forward or backward leaning shaft).
After this, as I had signed up to be fitted for all the clubs in the bag, we started at the putting area, where the Club Champion technology allowed me to clearly see just what my stroke was doing and how it could be improved with the proper putter. Rob was at ease as he explained the hows and whys that went into specifying the best putter for my particular size and stroke.
Technology Plus Experience
Then we returned to the hitting bay, where Rob proceeded to guide me through fittings for wedges, irons, hybrids, fairway woods and the driver. He analyzed the TrackMan results for each shot, and from these data, such as club head speed, distance, smash factor, spin rate, height, etc., he chose various components and assembled different clubs for me to test, with the goal of maximizing my performance with each successive test swing. Everything was taken into account. Rob’s many years in the club fitting business and his knowledge of TrackMan allowed him to accurately mix and match club components until he obtained an “ideal” set of clubs for me, based on those TrackMan numbers.
It was a fascinating experience, in large part because I could see the TrackMan results for each newly-fitted club in real time, right after each swing. It wasn’t as if I had to wait a couple of weeks to see if what had been specified for me was actually going to help me. I could see it right then and there.
There are many interesting factors at play in club fitting at this technologically advanced level, such as finding the optimum spin rate which forges a compromise between carry and roll, for a particular club as well as for the particular age, swing and ball speed of the golfer. Only technologically experienced club fitters can do this, and this is what Club Champion seems to bring to the table. Club Champion fitters also understand how to provide their clients with the best fitting, in large part by knowing how to take advantage of numerous awesome achievements of late in golf club technology, such as knowing how to specify stronger lofts while still retaining shot height, but with less spin, thus resulting in increased carry distance and/or roll.
After the Swinging
At the end, I was given a printout of my new specifications, including grip size, length, lie, loft, tip trim and swing weight, and the various brand name components that would be assembled into the clubs that would optimize my game. I was also given a printout showing the various shot dispersion patterns and trajectories for each club of my old set and of each newly-fitted club, as well as a set of sheets showing the average numbers for each TrackMan category, and the complete TrackMan results for each test swing with each club.
There was no requirement to purchase the clubs, just the fitting. The prices for the fitting can be found on the website ClubChampionGolf.com. The price of the specified clubs was higher than normal because of the customized shafts to be inserted in the otherwise stock clubs. But do I think it’s a go to purchase them? Absolutely. In my mind, we only go around once, and the confidence that you’ve got the right equipment cannot be overstated. It was a pleasurable and informative experience, the results of which will undoubtedly continue out on the golf course.