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Critical Golf: Unbiased Golf Equipment Reviews

Advice on Custom Golf Club Fittings

Advice on Custom Golf Club Fittings

If you are like any of the folks we play golf with on a regular basis, you probably have a barrage of reasons why you’ve never considered being fit for clubs by a professional:
Your current clubs fit well enough that you won’t gain any performance improvements from being fit (you will). Based on testing out equipment at your local retail store or demo day you can pick out the right match for your swing (you can’t). You aren’t “good enough” for a fitting (you are). That the fittings cost too much (they don’t).

For those who haven’t read our reviews of golf fitting and performance centers, know that we are big fans of being professionally fit for golf clubs. We’ve visited seven different centers to date and offer some observations and advice based on our sessions:

  • You don’t need to be a scratch player, as most every player (as long as you can consistently hit the ball) will benefit from a fitting. It will greatly help if your swing is repeatable, however, no matter what your level or handicap. Although fitters can try to fit for the direction your game is headed, if you are in the midst of a significant swing change with a teaching professional, we recommending conferring with your pro before signing up.
  • Don’t fear being scrutinized by the fitter. Like your Primary Care Physician, they’ve seen it all before, so take as many shots off the hosel as you like. We did!
  • Fittings aren’t meant to be lessons, and most fitters will avoid providing any type of swing advice. Some will suggest small changes as appropriate (I need to have a positive angle of attack with my driver…roger that).
  • In general, fittings don’t cost an arm and a leg. The majority are in the neighborhood of $100 per component, generally divided into driver, fairway/hybrid (though sometimes these are included with the driver), irons, wedges and putter. Bundled pricing for set fittings are often also available at a slight discount. Prices range from the free fittings at the Cleveland Fitting Studio (well done, Cleveland!) to those costing thousands of dollars and can include a set of clubs or physical evaluations (check out the TaylorMade Kingdom and Titleist Performance Institute and Tour Fitting).
  • Bringing your current set of clubs to the fitting will provide a good starting point for the fitter, and let you see the performance differences between your current clubs and those custom-fit. As a bonus, some of the fitters will adjust your current set of clubs to optimal lie and loft angles at no additional cost.
  • Hitting off an astroturf mat will add a few extra yards to your estimated distances. On the other hand, the clubs tested during the fitting, as they have connectors to fitters to swap shafts and club heads, will have slightly reduced yardages. The finished clubs, as they won’t have the connector, may feel slightly better to you as well (maybe you can tell, maybe you can’t).
  • Assuming the same level of expertise between fitters, we give extra points to those fitters with all the latest technology. FYI, most fitters with outdoor sessions use the same technology that is used to fit the pros (such as the Titleist Tour Fitting, held at the same range shown in their ads in golf magazines…awesome).
  • Let the fitter lead you. It can be challenging, but we found the best results came when we bit our tongue and didn’t express a preference for specific brands or models. If there are features in a club that you believe are necessary, such as how thin the top edge (line) of an iron is, let the fitter know. Just make sure to first take a step back and ask yourself if these features really are a “must have”, or if you will be willing and able to adjust to something different, either in name or look.
  • The fitter will “throw out” your mis-hits from the final set of data, so in the end you may only have 3-5 shots used for comparison purposes. I can’t believe our math professor would qualify this statistically significant, though it’s the norm. Some of the most important data varies little between swings (such as swing speed and tempo), and these are the components on which fitters tend to focus. The more swings you have with each club, the better. If you have a way to warm up/stretch out beforehand to optimize your session time, great.
  • A fitting doesn’t have to result in a recommendation of a wallet-busting custom set. We appreciated fitters that provided recommendations across a number of different levels – good (stock), better (a custom shaft), and best (the top-performing custom set, cost be damned).
  • Most fitters, though not all, will accept orders for the clubs if you decide to make a purchase. For those that take orders for stock clubs with your specs, the prices are what you would find from your big-box retail store. And we didn’t have one situation where we felt that that fitter was giving us the hard-sell to purchase clubs.
  • Fitting sessions vary quite a bit between different companies, so make sure you have an understanding of the environment and what they offer: indoor or outdoor fitting, if they have the specific clubs you just must try, whether adjustments (such as to lie or loft) to your current set included as part of the fitting, etc.
  • Most fittings have heavy reliance on the fitter, which is a good thing. All the technology in the world doesn’t make a difference without an experienced fitter.
  • If you have a copy of the Golf Digest article where their test subject gained a whopping 44 yards through a club fitting, please take it and throw it in the trash. Right now. If you are the 0.0001% of people with a set that is incorrect for your swing in every way imaginable (and we haven’t met anyone for whom this is the case), you may experience significant yardage gains. Otherwise, don’t expect that the fitter will find a club that suddenly allows you to hit the ball as far as Bubba.

And last but not least…

  • Have fun! We found fitting professionals to be friendly, knowledgeable, and easy to work with across all companies. And with same latest technology the pros use available to Average Joes, they can find the right equipment for your swing. And that’s fun!