This is 2nd Article in the series about custom fitting, if you missed the 1st article check it out here.
This particular article arose from the initial plan to get fitted at two different American golf centres to compare results. In fact I attended this independent golf centre before going to American golf.
This visit opened my eyes and was the kick start to me understanding the importance of custom fitting and the benefits it brings. Especially shafts, I assumed all shafts of the same flex were the same. Boy was I wrong; simply put the shaft is the engine of the club. I also had my mind blow by the amount of data and clubs a true independent fitting centre has that is geared up for custom fitting.
I regularly see Ping, Callaway even PXG open days here; there is a big focus for custom fitting. So same scenario as last time, I have in my head that my current irons might not be quite right for me and I’m toying with idea of changing my irons.
Straight into the fittings bay that overlooks a massive driving range, I was giving a few balls to warm up with before opening up a discussion about what I was looking to achieve from my potential new irons and the fitter wanted to find out a little bit more about my game.
If I’m being honest I didn’t know what I was looking for, stupid I know. All I know is that I suffer with a push that sometimes boarders a slice, so part of the reason for new irons was to see if I could get some support with my push. Any gains in distance wouldn’t go a miss either.
Off we went a few shots with my irons to get some baseline data, before testing the other clubs I was asked to hit a few shots with the Mizuno swing DNA. That was a bit strange; it looks like this for those who have not seen one before. This gadget is a tool to help narrow down the shafts that would be suited to the swing. It measures club head speed, swing tempo, a measure of how the shaft reacts, kick angle and release factor. Not that I know what all that means!
One thing that was pointed out by the fitter was that my ball flight is high, too high in his opinion. This is the first time anyone has mentioned this too me.
So the 1st club we tested was the Ping i500, my choice… I like Ping Ok! It felt nice, similar sound to what I currently have just a bit louder. A few shots later the data is compared to my own, distance is similar and my spin rates are up… however ball flight is still high for the fitters liking.
We move on to the Titlest T200, few shots in again it feels nice, easy to hit but this time I get the shafts changed to a heavier shaft in fact it may have been an extra stiff shaft. A few heavy shots later that shaft is ruled out. I was shocked to see that difference a shaft that’s a little too heavy can impact strike and swing.. It did not feel excessively heavy in my hands but during the swing it was obviously having a negative impact.
This process progressed, I ended up hitting Callaway APEX irons and Mizuno irons.. I didn’t quite like these more so the Callaway and the results showed this ever so slightly.
At this point I was feeling a little fatigued hitting ball after ball, so I took a well-earned breather. We discussed performance of what we have hit and compared to my irons, the common theme was that spin rates were up and I was starting to see pockets of clubs that were tightening up on dispersion.
The Pings and Titleist by far felt and looked the best and the performance was there too. I preferred the look of the pings over the Titleist so I was asked to test the Taylormade P970s as they are similar to the Pings, but are built to help increase ball speed/club head speed with their speed foam. I’m not a Taylormade fan. I’m not 100% sure why, but it might be that they release clubs every 5 minutes which makes me feel as if their clubs are not great value or the fact that everyone seems to have them… Might be a good reason I suppose so off I swung.
Long Story short, I didn’t like them… Couldn’t strike them that well. This could be down to me hitting around 80 balls at this point, or the fact we didn’t mess with shafts to get this club head dialled in. However when I was at location two in American Golf I was hitting these just fine… Strange right?
Throughout the fitting I was shocked and impressed, at the difference in performance and how I felt using different clubs. Call it naivety, but I never would have guessed it. For those of you who are thinking of having a fitting or have only ever used one brand and not deviated. You are potentially missing out, trust me! Sure they have to suit your eye, and me being a Ping fan I really did like the look, feel and performance from the other brands.
Finally we checked static measurements and lie angle, 1 degree up right and my height and hand size prompts all charts to fit me for standard length. However the fitter noticed I grip down on my irons ever so slightly and on further investigation suggested ¼” to ½” shorter lengths would suit me well.
Before leaving the fitting bay I was told the Titleist T200 gave the best performance and I felt they were ok.. Few yards gain but a tighter dispersion with a stiff shaft but on the heavier end. I understand why but I wasn’t given any info on shaft spec etc (just in case I bought elsewhere). So I asked instead if I could have a copy of the data to review in my own time as it was a lot to take in on the day. We hit a lot of shots, and as you can see the number of shots per club were not consistent. The swapping and change got a little overwhelming at times. Hence me asking for something to review. The answer quite simple was, no sorry you are not allowed to have any of the fitting data, not even a summary. In hindsight I was quite lucky to get a snap shot of the dispersion but noticed that none of the clubs were labelled up so I still can’t compare.
I didn’t like this at all, but thought this might be standard practice. Following this I posted on social media if this is the norm and 77% of you said fitters have given you some or all of the data.
We progressed back into the store where I got priced up for the Titlest T200 at £999, again no info shared on the spec and setup. I was never going to commit on the day to spending that much money, in fact any money. The plan was to get fitted, have some info to review then make the decision or even go back to test further. When I said I needed some time to think about it that’s when their attitude changed.. Throughout they were informative and helpful, as soon as I didn’t give the go ahead to order they got quite grumpy and rude… To the point where I couldn’t carry on any form of a conversation, if it wasn’t for the other person working there it would have been silent. I understand that they want to make the sale, and after the time invested in going through the process they naturally want to get a sale of clubs. However it doesn’t always happen, if they want it that bad a few sales lessons won’t go amiss to try to improve their conversion rates but ultimately it was the service in the last 10/15 minutes of the fitting that let them and me down.
Ok some of you may be happy with finding clubs that are fitted to you in one session, and don’t care about service. For me I work in an industry where service is ranked pretty high, so for me if the service is not right or consistent it’s a big sticking point for me. Especially when there is a strong possibility I will be coming back to review hybrids, woods and maybe driver in fact i would feel pretty uncomfortable going back to re-test the irons. When investing in clubs for a hobby that I love I will not accept any compromise on service and the value.
This post and the previous post on custom fitting at American Golf has got me thinking about the importance of finding the right company to go on this journey with. Sure custom fitters see hundreds of golfers a year, but surly you need them to share part of your golf journey with you?
Open and transparent on both sides, us as the golfer and them as the fitters. We need to be able to have an open discussion on the data and what we are trying to achieve through custom fitting. Taking time to reflect and review, perhaps even coming back for another fitting or further testing, this means being able to have some form of a report or the data collated during the fitting made available. Even having time to sit down and de-brief with the fitters to understand if they can’t give you any information to go away with. There is a lot of trust put into the fitters, and trust is not built easily so if within an hour something does feel right, something is not explained properly or the service is not where it should be. This puts into question the whole fitting, lets remember golf clubs are an investment.
Just going for a custom fitting is not good enough surly, considering over 3 fittings within a month I’ve been spec in for 3 different shafts, two using the ping i500 and one with Titleist T200. Just to remind you of these: Stiff Shaft (but on the lighter side), Extra Stiff at 120g and this fitting was Stiff but on the heavier end.
What’s right and what’s wrong? Neither location gave me the confidence in the end to commit. I still don’t know if any of the set ups were right so this leads me to next weeks article…
Custom Fit vs Lessons for the average golfer… What’s the better investment? I’ve got the results from a few surveys done by the readers to share as well.. I’ve also started back up with lessons with a new PGA professional since these fittings and I’ll be sharing regularly my progress.
Until Next Time, Happy Golfing.