A 2017 study conducted by GolfMagazine (Aug 2017) confirmed that custom club fitting absolutely improves any player’s performance on the golf course. Improvement was evident across the board with big distance gains, tighter dispersion patterns, more fairways hit, closer proximity to the hole with irons and most surprisingly, dramatically improved putting.
The golfers participating in the study lowered their handicap by an average of three strokes per round! The magazine concluded by writing, “The results? Fitting matters. Based on data from the TrackMan, SAM PuttLab and SkyCaddies along with tester interviews, it’s clear that correctly matched clubs can help golfers of all skills. And remember – you actually can buy a better game with properly fit clubs.”
Says world-renowned instructor David Leadbetter, “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.” While custom fitting will definitely improve a player’s ability to perform and score, not all fitters are created equal. There are standard and premium levels of fitting.
A standard, or non-premium fitting, will often be free, or at least free with a purchase. Every step up in technology and fitting expertise will most likely produce better results.
A non-premium fitting might be done by a local golf shop or teaching pro. They may have rudimentary technology such as basic launch monitors, though many still base their fitting on ball flight and the eye test. They’ll probably have a limited selection of heads and shafts on hand to hit. They might have one or more fitting carts from companies like Callaway, TaylorMade or Titleist. You’ll most likely get a set of golf clubs that measures you properly for your build and swing speeds because they’ve been doing that for years. Your fitter will have some training. If you go through this fitting, will you improve? Maybe.
For a more advanced,non-premium fitting, you may choose to go to a place like Edwin Watts, Golf Galaxy or Dick’s Sporting Goods. Some PGA professionals will fit into this category because of their experience, expanded equipment options and/or more advanced fitting technology. A location like this might have four, or even more, individual fitting carts from various manufacturers. Each manufacturer might have 10, 15 or more shaft options for their drivers, some of the same shafts as well as some unique to their brand. However, they cannot mix and match shafts and heads between fitting carts and they definitely won’t fit you for swing weight. They’ll incorporate a launch monitor and maybe some additional technologies. Fitters might be highly trained or just a sales associate with little training. In most cases, they also have to sell shirts, shoes and golf balls as well as to fit. Once you are fit, they’ll send your specifications to a club manufacturer to be built on an assembly line. Will you improve more if you visit a location like this? Probably.
Golf specialty stores often fit indoors while PGA professionals often fit outdoors. Indoors provides a true ball flight unaffected by wind, humidity or uneven turf conditions. Does it matter? Indoors, golfers are free of distractions and external elements that impact a golf ball. Golfers are better able to focus indoors, which allows for a more repeatable swing. Indoors you hit premium golf balls instead of range balls, which provides much more accurate feedback. Some may question if hitting off a mat alters performance, but a recent study showed that fairway turf grass and Fiberbuilt turf mats created identical ball speed, smash factors and spin rates on a TrackMan launch monitor, meaning hitting off turf isn’t an advantage in club fitting.
If you wish to treat yourself to a premium fitting, you would go to a place like Club Champion, Cool Clubs or Hot Stix. A premium fitter avails itself of the most advanced technology including TrackMan, SAM PuttLab, and SST PURE machines. SST PUREing identifies shaft irregularities that can cause problems when the shaft twists and bends during the swing. It finds the most stable bending plane or “neutral-axis” of every individual shaft, then aligns it in the clubhead to deliver longer, more accurate shots; as much as six additional yards.
A premium club fitter will have many more options available. At Club Champion, they offer more than 35,000 hittable head and shaft options from all the major brands, plus numerous other exotic offerings. Club Champion also stands out because they actually build clubs in-house, to exacting, unrivaled tolerances. Variables such as swing weight, length, lie and flex definitely alter performance. The experience and know-how in combining these intricate parts together is what separates Club Champion from its competition.
At Club Champion, master fitters go through more than 150 hours of training including monthly product training and testing. They must pass rigorous testing before they can be certified. As opposed to other retail locations, fitting is all that these people do. They’re not salespeople, they’re not cashiers; they are master fitters.
“Club Champion truly is one of the most innovative club fitters in the business. They provide a consumer experience that is undeniably helpful for all golfers to play better. We couldn’t be more thrilled with our partnership with Club Champion,” said TaylorMade CEO David Abeles.
InGolfMagazine’s August 2017 club fitting study, interviews with the testers revealed the expertise of Club Champion fitters had a lot to do with the very positive testing results. These golfers added an average of 19 yards off the tee and 10 yards with their irons. fit.