By Paul Mignosa, Golf Gear Weekly
World-renowned instructor, David Leadbetter, had this to say about club fitting: “It never ceases to amaze me that golfers buy clubs off the shelf and assume they’re right for them. Whether you’re a great golfer or a casual one, getting a custom club fitting is one of the quickest ways to improve your game.”
Mr. Leadbetter is 100% right. I have been playing golf now, actively, for about 10 years. I started playing when I was in the Navy stationed out in San Diego and fell in love. When I got out, Golf was the one thing that helped me with my return to civilian life after multiple deployments. I am currently an 11 HC and have been as low as 7. I also work in the golf industry and have the benefit of playing some of the best equipment the industry offers. I am a little taller than average and a little on the “husky” side (6’1, 235lbs) so I have always played stiff flex shafts, standard length, standard lie/loft across the board, as I assumed that is what worked best for me. Every time a new piece of equipment has gone into my bag it comes either off the shelf of my local golf retailer or directly from the manufacturer. I have never been properly fit for clubs. Lately, my game has taken a dive for the worse. Granted I do not have the pleasure of playing as much as I have in the past nor do I get the chance to practice, but something was off and I wanted to see if I could fix the issues as I felt my swing was in pretty good shape. So I set up an appointment at the Club Champion Boston location (Needham, MA) to get a full bag fitting.
THE CLUB CHAMPION WAY
General Manager Bruce Drew met me in the lobby and explained the process that makes Club Champion one of the best club fitting centers in the country. “When it comes to getting fit for golf clubs, in order to do it absolutely to the best of your ability, you need to look for four key things: equipment variation, the technology used, fitter’s expertise, and how the club is actually built.” So let’s look into those four key elements a little more in depth.
Equipment Variation: How many brands of heads and shafts can you hit during your fitting session and even better, can you mix and match them? At the end of the day, the more choices you have, the better. If you’re only getting fit with one or two fitting carts and/or demo bags, you are not getting even close to the breadth of equipment combinations available today. Club Champion offers over 35,000 head & shaft variations to find your best match.
Technology Used: A launch monitor is a MUST, but which one is important as well. Many are good, but Trackman is still the launch monitor the PGA Tour pros trust as well as Club Champion. For putting analysis, the Science and Motion (SAM) PuttLab is still second to none in terms of the data it delivers to help you decide which type of putter is best for you.
Your Fitter: If you think reading a launch monitor and saying “Your spin is too high, try this” is all there is to club fitting, think again. There is an art to the science behind all of this, and if your fitter hasn’t been fitting for long or hasn’t seen a couple hundred people, you’re taking your chances that your fitter truly knows what he/she’s doing.
Club Building: At the end of all of this, if you have a perfect 3 for 3 scores from above, but your clubs are built in the ‘custom shop’ of a manufacturer (i.e. assembly line) your odds of getting the clubs built exactly to your specifications decrease considerably. No two sets should be alike, and you need someone to get those lofts, lies, lengths and swing weights dead-on to take full advantage of any club fitting process. That’s why Club Champion sticks out!
THE FITTING PROCESS – IRONS/WEDGES
So with all of that in my head, I knew I was in the right spot. I started warming up by hitting a few balls to get loose… FYI a full bag fitting last about 3 hours so be prepared to hit a lot of balls! While I was warming up and not paying attention, Bruce grabbed a few of my irons and started to measure them to check the length and lie angles to get an understanding of where I was at. After I hit about 20 or so balls with my 6 iron, he asked me if I knew what the specs of my irons were at. I mentioned standard across the board as I mentioned earlier. What I noticed with my clubs before making any adjustments is that my ball speed was OK (100mph), swing speed was down a little (84mph) but my attack angle was way off and steep ( -7deg) which was causing a very high spin rate, ballooning ball flight and loss of distance and accuracy. Yes, some of that is my swing flaws I must say. I averaged around 178yds carry/185yds total. What I found out next kind of startled me. My irons were all ½” long, and ½ degree upright. I got them right off the shelf and they came that way, so again, that is why I just assumed my clubs were standard across the board.
So with looking at my numbers on Trackman, Bruce only cared about a few of the key data tracking numbers – Attack Angle, Ball Speed, Club Speed. If we can flatten/get more positive attack angle we will get more clubhead speed, which will create more ball speed – which in turn creates more distance and better accuracy with more solid shots. Bruce determined that my irons should, in fact, be 2 degrees flat and I should be playing standard length clubs and move to an X Flex shaft. That is a huge difference. Once we made those adjustments, I was hitting the ball as pure as I’ve ever had. My attack angle went down to around -4 deg (around PGA Tour average), my club head speed went up about 6 mph and my ball speed went up about 10 mph. Now I was flying my 6 iron 187-190yds and almost 200-206yds total. More importantly, I was making better contact with a piercing trajectory to maximize carry/roll. I was astonished at how much tweaking your irons and getting properly fit can make you a better ball striker by having you hit more consistent shots, which I hope will make me a better golfer.
THE FITTING PROCESS – PUTTER
If there is one club that most people never get fit for, it’s your putter. But we use it the most, why is that? So to give my body a little break, we next went over to the putting green to play around with the SAM (Science and Motion) PuttLab and to figure out if the blade style putter I have been using is the right one for me.SAM PuttLab analyzes more than 40 important parameters of your putting stroke and displays the results in easy to understand graphic reports. The SAM will tell you based on your swing path and tendencies if you should be more of a blade, mallet or any other specific putter head type. After hitting 6 out of 7 putts from about 10 feet in the heart of the cup, it was determined that the Raybon Putter that I have is the correct one for me, It was just a little too upright so Bruce flattened a little and it suggested that we add 1 deg of loft. With those little tweaks, my putter felt even better than it did and I felt more confident. I then rolled 5 of 5 putts in. The SAM is a great tool to use and goes into the greatest details to get you to become a better putter.
THE FITTING PROCESS – DRIVER
If there is one part of my game that lacks the most, it is with my driver. Just like most amateur golfers, I tend to slice the ball. The great thing about Club Champion is the countless number of variations they offer in heads and shafts. We started off by looking at the numbers from my current driver. My club speed, ball speed, smash factor was all pretty good (98mph, 135mph, 1.40) but my Attack Angle was way steep(-5.0deg), which added too much spin and I had a very low launch (7deg) and low ball height. Put all that together and I was only carrying the ball about 215-220 with an overall total of about 230yds max! With my size and skill level, I should be striking the ball than that. Bruce started to play around with a few different combinations until we found the right one that got the numbers where they needed to be.
The best combo: the Callaway Epic Driver with the Fujikura ATMOS Black shaft. My clubhead speed climbed up to about 105mph, my ball speed rocketed up to over 145mph, smash factor of 1.50 but most importantly with the ATMOS shaft I was able to get my attack angle way down to about -2.0degrees and launching it higher. Overall, I was now carrying the ball 230-240yds with a total distance of over 260yds+. Besides hitting the ball further, the dispersion rate in the Epic/ATMOS combo was extremely tight, resulting in hitting more fairways.
I was completely blown away by the fitting process at Club Champion. From the moment I walked through the doors, I was graciously greeted by the Club Champion Boston staff who are all knowledgeable and friendly. It was a thorough learning experience for me. Going over all the technology and numbers during my actual fitting was great. I now have clubs that are fit for me to help me become a better golfer overall. If you are like me and think you may know it all, and feel that what you’re playing is right (but in reality it’s really not) or you need help finding out what clubs best serve your game, then I challenge you to take Club Champion up on their newest offer.
A gift card from Club Champion is the perfect holiday gift to treat yourself or your loved ones. If you or your golfer books and completes their fitting before January 31, 2018, he/she will receive 50% off a full bag fitting or 33% off any other custom club fitting. You can purchase Club Champion Site or call any one of their 26 locations across the country.
Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic innovative Jailbreak ball speed technology changes the fundamental way the head behaves at impact to promote more distance for every type of player. The key structural components of a driver – crown, sole, and face – deform at impact. Because they’re connected, they influence each other’s dynamics. Jailbreak incorporates two slender titanium bars positioned parallel to each other behind the face, connected to the crown and sole. The size, strength, and position of each bar create a new dynamic relationship between the crown, sole, and face. The result is a profound change in how the head, as a whole, behaves at impact, resulting in more speed across a much larger area of the face.
Fujikura ATMOS Tour Spec is the culmination of key learnings from more than two decades of tour-driven products. The development of ATMOS Tour Spec was an extensive process, recognizing that Tour professionals need to keep the ball flight down with low spin and that these players have a variety of different swing types and clubhead combinations, it was essential that engineering a variety of options was crucial to optimize performance. ATMOS Tour Spec comes in three different color-coded launch options; red being the highest of the three, blue as the middle launching and black the lowest.