Where to go to get fit
The Pro Shop leads the way.
Clubfitting in South Africa is largely the preserve of The Pro Shop, which has master fitting bays in each of its four main retail stores in Gauteng, Cape Town and Durban.There are independent clubfitters, but the advantage and convenience of The Pro Shop is the ability to try all of the major equipment brands in a search for the set of clubs that best suit your own game.
Custom fitting golfers for clubs is old hat at The Pro Shop – it has been part of their service for years – but today’s XACT-FIT experience is at an elevated level.A Classic fitting is recommended for new golfers, or high handicaps, and is a free service, while the R400 Premium fitting is for golfers looking for a more thorough examination of their requirements. It’s by appointment only, and the fitting uses the Foresight Sports GC2 launch monitor to track a client’s performance.The elite group of master fitters have all received training in the United States from specialist custom fitters working for the major brands.They don’t receive commission for selling clubs, so each is a neutral observer.
I booked an appointment at the Woodmead store in Gauteng with Billy Kirkbride, an experienced PGA professional, as are most of the master fitters.There are four fitting bays downstairs, more like studios, as each one is spacious and private, a comfortable indoor experience.The GC2 simulator projected a golf hole on to the screen in front of me, and you begin thumping balls into the canvas. Not range balls, but those which suit your profile. I was hitting irons, so it’s fascinating to track your shot arc as it heads for the green and the pin. Inwardly you’re saying, Go, Go, just like you do on course.
It’s best to bring some of your own clubs with you, to compare them with what you’re trying out. I was looking for game-improvement irons, and went into the appointment with no specific brand in mind. I was able to swing away with everything they had in the store in the way of 7-irons.
The revelation was the difference in performance between clubs.All irons today are of such outstanding quality that you would expect to be equally effective a shot-maker with the Cobra King F7 as with the Srixon Z 565. But testing golf clubs is unlike a road test comparing a Hyundai to a Toyota. Cars tend to go in the direction you drive them. Irons, on the other hand, show a lop-sided variety of results.
Golfers can adapt to any club given time, but the benefit of custom fitting is that it directs you away from those that are unsuitable. Billy shared numbers with me from the GC2 monitor which contrasted sharply from make to make. Some outcomes were good, others made ugly reading.There were clubs I just couldn’t hit crisply. From the beginning he had told me to ignore my clubhead speed as being largely irrelevant, and Ball Speed and Spin Rate were the more important numbers, as was the distance the shot was travelling. Once you focus on those stats, you soon identify the clubs you prefer.
A fitting can take an hour and more, because once you settle on a make, Billy then looks at your hand size, for the proper grip, height and arm length for lie angles. Suitable shafts, whether they be stiff, regular, or graphite, are settled on early in the fitting.The good news: if you buy a set of clubs, 50% of the R400 fitting session price falls away.