-By R.J. Smiley, Tee Times Magazine
I have been playing golf for 64 years. I changed clubs every few years buying the latest in technology. My brand loyalty shifted several times, but I’ve stayed with mostly traditional equipment. About 20 years ago I was fitted for irons at PING in Phoenix. Since that time (my only fitting), I have been playing PING irons, 2° upright.
Each new set of golf clubs took a little getting used to. I probably had to make a few swing adjustments to play effectively with my new equipment.
One time last year I hit a few balls into a Trackman screen, but I did not understand the blizzard of information puked out of a computer. “Just more hocus-pocus,” I thought.
A few weeks ago the Editor of Tee Times asked me to visit the new Club Champion store and go through the driver fitting process so I could write an informed story about the company and the process. I did a little research about Club Champion before my fitting and learned that the company is the newest and fastest growing club fitter and retailer in the USA.
My next move was to call an old college golf teammate who is a club fitter in Palm Springs. When I mentioned Club Champion, he stopped me in mid-sentence. “They are the BEST,” he said. “Rated among the top 100 club fitters in the country. But, the real endorsement is the fact that all of the big-name golf club manufacturers allow Club Champion to use their components to build golf clubs. Many of the shafts they offer can’t even be purchased from PING or Titleist.”
Their new Twin Cities location, northeast corner across from Southdale in Edina, is the company’s 20th fitting and retail outlet. Every one of the Club Champion’s employees has spent a month at the home office in Chicago where they go through the exact same training. Each of these highly trained professional has been trained in the very latest Trackman analytical technics. They work with each golfer creating a perfect match of their swing with their equipment. From its inventory of more than 35,000 hittable head, shaft and grip combinations, Club Champion finds the perfect clubs for every golfer who wants to play better.
As I walked into the brand new studio with my clubs on my shoulder, I said hello to my old friend George Smith, PGA Professional and Master Fitter and Builder for Club Champion. The first thing I noticed was an entire wall covered with golf shafts, in a rainbow of color, neatly placed in vertical rows, like pool cues. After a little chit-chat, we got down to business. “We are going to treat you just like any golfer that we had never met,” George said as he handed me a clipboard with a form attached.
A minute later he said, “Take out your favorite warm-up club and hit enough balls into the screen to get good and warmed-up.” After about 20 shots he said, “Now take out your driver and hit a few shots. Ah, I can see that you are really getting warmed up. Your club head speed is increasing.”
“Are you recording each of my shots?” I asked. “That last one was really not very solid,” George told me to hit a few more.
“Ok, let’s take a look at the results.”
“I am one of those people who doesn’t want to know how to make a watch. I just want to know what time it is,” I said with a smile.
George’s comeback was perfect, “I only deal in facts! Let’s take a look. The first thing we look at is clubhead speed. Then we find the correct combination of club head and shaft to create optimum distance off the tee for you. You see that the average carry distance with your driver is 213 yards. I took out the three that were not hit well so we get a good average. Trackman stats show that with the proper combination of equipment you should have an average carry of 229 yards and with roll out created with less spin you should average 251 yards. Maybe a little more outdoors.”
For the next hour, I hit drivers with heads from four manufacturers, and a variety of shafts. To make it simple we compared all the averages and found the driver that delivered the optimum Trackman results. Now I am waiting for my driver being built in Chicago (about 10 days).
Golf Digest surveyed a sampling of nine Club Champion customers who had the complete bag analysis and new clubs. “Eight out of the nine were 21 yards longer off the tee and dropped 1.7 strokes per round.”
Golf Magazine surveyed a sampling of 10 Club Champion golfers hitting 6-irons with a variety of shafts. “Change your shafts and add 10 yards!”
Plugged-in Golf did a survey of 25 golfers who had been fitted by Club Champion. “Of the 25 players in the study, 16 gained over 10 yards and 6 gained over 20. Two golfers gained over 40 yards off the tee! On average, players who got fit drove the ball over 16 yards further.”
George’s comment earlier, “I only deal in facts!”