Club Champion Driver Fitting Review
Club Champion Detroit
29918 Woodward Ave, Royal Oak, MI 48073
Teacher’s Comments: Made me a believer in clubfitting
Nationally recognized golf club fitter Club Champion opened its first facility in the Detroit area in December 2017, and I was pleased to be invited to a complementary Club Champion driver fitting. It was an enlightening and enjoyable experience.
I have long heard of the benefits of clubfitting, but dismissed the idea that it would make a difference to a mid-handicapper like myself. My swing, I thought, was just not consistent enough to benefit. I was wrong.
I was guided through the process by Club Champion store manager Adam White. A Master Fitter and Builder, Adam was a thorough professional, working patiently through my off-season rust and keeping me informed about the process at every step.
The process of clubfitting consisted of hitting balls with various combinations of clubs and shafts into a golf simulator, and then comparing the statistics generated by TrackMan. In all, the process took about an hour-and-a-half.
After a few warm-up swings, we started with my gamer: a Cobra Fly-Z+ with a stock regular flex shaft. Once that baseline was set, Adam started me with a new Cobra F8 and a stock shaft. Results were recorded and Adam switched out shafts. More swings. New shaft. More swings. New shaft. Then on to a Callaway driver head. More swings. New shaft. New heads. New shafts. And on and on.
Club Champion has some 35,000 club and shaft combinations on hand.
As we went through the iterations, Adam described some of the problems presented by the stock and “made for” shafts that come on off-the-rack clubs. It seems that stock shafts of the sort that go into hundreds of thousands of off-the-rack drivers vary significantly in launch characteristics and manufacturing tolerances. In many cases, even though a stock shaft is advertised as a “premium” model, it in fact is only so in appearance. This is why nearly everyone has had the experience of testing a driver at a shop, then purchasing one with the same head and shaft only to find that it doesn’t perform or feel the same. At the very least, you need to buy the actual club that you test.
Premium aftermarket shafts, on the other hand, are said to have much tighter tolerances and more consistent performance. This applies not only from shaft to shaft, but in the performance of a single shaft from swing to swing. The higher cost of one of these aftermarket shafts (a premium driver shaft can run $400 or more) is attributable to the higher quality materials and tighter tolerances that produce this consistency. With better manufacturing, the shaft engineers can then precisely engineer the point at which the shafts flex and by how much.
That there are differences in shafts from off-the-rack to custom-and-premium makes sense from an economic point-of-view. A $500 off-the-rack driver is not going to have a $400 shaft in it, no matter what the marketing materials say.
It also makes sense from what we know about Tour professionals, and from what I observed in spending a day at the TaylorMade Tour Van at the Buick Open. The Tour Pros play with clubs that look like off-the-shelf models, but are as far from stock as a NASCAR racer is from a dealership Chevrolet.
What I found from the launch monitor and simulator is that different head-and-shaft combinations produced measurably and consistently different results. One particular combination would consistently produce a higher spin rate, but lower launch angle. Another consistently left the ball right of center with little roll. A couple produced very consistently high smash factors. A few were consistently inconsistent with my swing. Whatever the the results, though, none varied as wildly as my stock gamer.
After about an hour, Adam circled back to the Cobra F8 and a selection of three shafts. From there, he narrowed it down to one combination that produced a good spin rate, consistent distance and shot shape and a high smash factor. The winner:
Cobra F8 Driver 9.5 “Draw” Position. 12 Gram weight in neutral position (No Draw Bias)
45.25″ D5 Swing weight
VA Composites- Raijin 54 “Three” (Regular Flex)
In addition to a Club Champion driver fitting, the company fits irons, woods and hybrids. They also have a small putting green and equipment for putter fittings. The shop is bright and clean and a thoroughly pleasant place to spend a couple of hours.
Can a Club Champion fitting help your game? It seems likely to me. Aside from my anecdotal evidence, a 2017 Golf Magazine study followed several Club Champion customers through the fitting process and the on-course results. The study found that the average Club Champion customer gained 22 yards with their driver on course and 13 yards with their irons. In fact, high handicappers saw big gains, some more than 25 yards with their drivers and some shaved 5 to 10 strokes per round. A Golf Digest study found that 8 out of 9 Club Champion custom fit golfers lowered their scores by as much as six strokes per round and added an average of 21 yards off the tee.
Club Champion has a winter golf deal going where golfers can get 50% off a full bag fitting and 33% off all other fittings. The deal lasts until January 31, 2018.
Discounted Winter Promotion Fitting Prices:
Full bag fitting – $175 (Regularly $350)
Driver or iron fitting – $99 (Regularly $150)
Putter fitting – $66 (Regularly $100)
Prices are for fitting only. Clubs are available for purchase. Club Champion can also optomize a golfer’s current clubs.
I have not yet ordered the Cobra F8 with the Raijin shaft. As you might expect, it is not cheap, and I need to think about whether twenty extra yards is worth the cash.
What am I thinking? Of course it is.
A Club Champion Driver Fitting was first published January 2, 2018 on GolfBlogger.Com.