Some valuable information before
you purchase your next set of clubs.
As seen in Georgia Golf News
July Edition, 1997
By Kip Gregory
Certified Golf Teaching Professional
Often a new student will come to me with a borrowed set of clubs and ask for my advice about replacing them. I usually suggest they consider getting "fitted" for clubs before plunking down their money for new clubs from retail stock. While the idea of club fitting may sound new to some, the concept has been around for almost as long as golf itself. Golf pros and amateur enthusiasts have been modifying clubs for nearly a hundred years. Golf clubs have evolved from hand carved hickory shafts and heads to today's hottest material: titanium.
Available to mostly touring professionals in the past, custom club fitting is an area of golf that has grown rapidly in recent years. In my opinion, the average golfer has even more to gain from properly fitted clubs, because the low handicapper or professional has more ability to adapt their swing to equipment changes. And given the cost and variety of new materials, one would only be smart to make sure that whatever you purchase fits your golf swing as well as your budget. Generally speaking, custom fit clubs won't cost you any more than comparable clubs off-the-rack.
While any experienced golf instructor or club maker can quickly estimate a golfer's general needs, a specific fitting is a precision effort influenced by swing and feel input based on the individual. You're going through this process to consider having clubs made for you, not simply adjusted. As swings can vary greatly, so can club fitters and their components vary. As you meet with a club fitter who's gained your confidence, here are some key points that you might expect in a club fitting session...
The ideal fitting session is done preferably outdoors or on an indoor range with computerized fitting systems with simulation capabilities available, as ball flight is of utmost consideration. You can be expected to answer a number of questions regarding your golf experience and current ball flight patterns. Sessions can run anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes or more. (If you are brand new to golf, you might take some lessons before considering the club fitting process to establish a pattern in your swing, set-up and tempo.)
Beginning with the static phase, your physical size will be measured from an upright position as well as your address position over the ball. The goal is to find the correct combination of length, lie angle, loft, shaft flex (and material) weight, and grip size ideally matched to your swing.
Next is the dynamic phase, or actual ball striking and ball flight analysis. You may be asked to hit several balls with a driver, a 5 iron and perhaps a short iron while the "cybergear" records the data. Impact tape is placed on the clubface and sole of each club to determine your hitting patterns in regard to striking the ball squarely (center hit), on the toe or off the heel. All the data is then considered carefully. The club fitter can tell you what materials and club specs would work best to construct the clubs that will help you hit the ball in the center of the clubface most consistently - clubs that are perfect for your physical size, set up and swing speed. In addition, you'll probably leave the session with valuable information about your own swing.
So, you've had your eye on those expensive, well-advertised "Gigantic Gerta's" with the titanium inserts. Can they be fitted to you? Probably, but you'll need to inquire as to whether the manufacturer actually offers a fitting system, or will the clubs be "adjusted" with some of your specs. Custom fitting really means having the clubs made from component parts to order. There is a difference, but either way, I believe you'll come out way ahead of just buying clubs off-the-rack. Your game will become more enjoyable, for your shot quality is bound to improve along with greater physical comfort each time out. With custom fitting now available to everyone, better golf is definitely "measurable" ... and obtainable!
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