Where to go to get fit

The Pro Shop leads the way.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Play Your Best - – STU­ART McLEAN

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.

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