The great custom fitting conundrum
Every golfer should be properly fitted for clubs, but approach with caution, says Kit Alexander.
“I’m not good enough to be custom fitted.” If I had a pound for every time I’d heard that I’d have a few hundred quid. It’s one of the biggest misnomers in golf because it’s actually golfers who struggle most that see the biggest improvement from getting fitted into the right clubs and tweaking the set-up to suit their game.
Firstly, it stands to reason that pros and good players who swing well and hit the centre of the face more often than not will be able to make most things work and any improvement will be subtle. Secondly, I guarantee you swing the club and deliver it to the ball a lot more consistently than you think – even if you’re a mid and high-handicapper.
Believe me, I’ve seen the testing and data. I know you’re probably sitting there shaking your head as you read this, but go with me. You might not necessarily swing the club that well, but you’ll make the same movements (and mistakes) more often than not. Even if you have a two-way miss, the chances are that’s down to minimal differences in the face angle at impact and you’d still benefit from custom clubs.
So, now we’ve established once and for all that any golfer from world number one Dustin Johnson to a struggling highhandicapper would benefit from custom fitting, surely it’s as simple as going to your local club or golf shop to find the perfect clubs that will help your handicap plummet. Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple.
There are two issues. Firstly, the sales pitch masquerading as a custom fitting. Hitting balls into a net for 10 minutes without any data, comparison or club tweaking is not a fitting – and it’s amazing how often you get ‘fitted’ into whatever clubs are on special offer or collecting dust in the store room when you’ve gone through this rather limited process.
Secondly, the brand-specific fitting. These are usually done by very talented fitters but they are limited by their very definition as more and more club pros and shops are aligned to a single manufacturer these days.
How do you know you’re getting the very best club for you if you’re only testing equipment from one manufacturer? I would urge you to go to a specialist custom fitter with no brand allegiances so you can hit all the clubs on the market and rely on the fitter’s expertise to find the club and set-up that really is the most beneficial to you.
The incredible adjustability available in most shiny new clubs makes it quicker and easier for a quality fitter to zero in on your optimum specifications than ever before. Of course, all that adjustability comes at a premium. The majority of manufacturers offer a superadjustable hero product and a cheaper and less adjustable option that is also typically more forgiving.
More expensive isn’t always better. You’re paying for the added adjustability so if you’re fortunate enough to hit the ball as well or better with one of the less adjustable and less expensive models then save yourself a few pennies (obviously invest it in other golf equipment or a year’s subscription to Golf World!) and buy that one. Resist the urge to have all the bells and whistles for the sake of it if it doesn’t happen to benefit your game. I enjoyed the Callaway Epic and TaylorMade M1 last year – and they were fantastic drivers – but I used the Callaway Fusion for most of the year in competition because it was the most consistent for me with a very minimal drop off in distance.
Remember, even in drivers and especially in everything else, it’s not just about distance. Get custom fitted into the optimum combination of distance, accuracy and consistency for your game and you will save shots on the course.
Choosing a fitter who isn’t aligned to a specific brand can be hugely beneficial.