Simply put, golf club fitting can help golfers of all skill levels enhance their performance and increase their enjoyment of the game. But how far does the weekend warrior really need to take it? Is it a must that you receive a full bag fitting using vector launch monitors? Will a quick fitting targeted at your general body type suffice? What about online fitting and smartphone Apps? Is there any value there?
And perhaps more importantly, what does fitting do to the final price of the clubs you buy? Does getting custom fit mean you’re locked into buying brand new clubs, or are used golf clubs still an option for those value-conscious among us?
First things first, for beginners and intermediate golfers:
You need to remember that golf club manufacturers are in the business of selling golf clubs to a mass market, as a result, you can pretty much rest assured that you will find, within their core specs, a combination that will suit you just fine. So try not to get too uptight about this.
The main objective is to make sure the length you pick is right for your height so you are comfortable at address, that the shaft flex is roughly matched to your swing speed so you maximize your distance and that the loft you pick won’t give you any problems with trajectory. You can get most of the way there by trying out some buddy’s clubs, or demoing a variety of clubs from your local golf shop.
If you’d like some expert advice, a quick chat with your PGA pro, or golf shop staff during a simple fitting session can quickly confirm you’re in the ballpark. Many golf shops will routinely offer a simple fitting for free to prospective customers. Others will provide the service for a nominal fee, whether or not you ultimately buy the clubs from them.
Taking things a step, or more like a leap forward, brings us into the realm of advanced club fitting. There has been a tremendous surge in the popularity and utility of advanced club fitting in recent years. The benefits this can bring to your game, regardless of your skill level, are very real. In fact, Golf Digest recently did a cover story on club fitting that showed an average golfer can add as much as 17 yards to their drive when expertly fit and realize a significant improvement in accuracy and performance in their irons.
The main difference between a simple fitting and an advance club fitting session really comes down to technology. We’re talking about a lot more than a pro watching you swing and using some marking tape here. Today’s high tech fittings involve state-of-the-art vector launch monitors and video, many with full ball flight options. By the time you’re done, you’ve had every conceivable aspect of your game scrutinized, (from club head speed, ball speed and spin rates, launch angle, side spin and more).
You walk away from an expert fitting session with a detailed list of specs completely dialed in to your specific needs that you can use to buy your next set of clubs.
The beauty is that you can then take that list and shop for the best value in those specs. In most cases that means buying pre-owned (even with the money you pay for the advance fitting session you’ll typically still save a bundle when you buy used).
Most manufacturers, recognizing the importance of fitting, have added simple self-fitting to their websites. Some are more advanced than others (Ping, a pioneer in fitting actually has a very helpful tool and a smartphone app for putter fitting which is really worth trying out), but any of these online tools can be fairly helpful in helping confirm or correct your best guess about where to start for specs by body type.
The best way to know if you’re playing the right specs is to get out there and PLAY!