CUS­TOM FIT­TING

In search of the per­fect set, Kit Alexan­der and Nick Wright vis­ited world-renowned club fit­ter Derek Mur­ray to dis­cover what it takes to find the best clubs for your game.

Golf World (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Re­gard­less of the level of your game, ev­ery golfer ben­e­fits from cus­tom club fit­ting. Turn here for the 11 golden rules you have to know.

Aproper cus­tom fit­ting of new clubs is the one thing that can make you a bet­ter golfer overnight and in the long term – no mat­ter your level of abil­ity. Of course, im­prov­ing tech­nique helps lower scores, but it’s a long-term pro­ject. A cus­tom-fit yields in­stant im­prove­ment, iden­ti­fy­ing the best equip­ment for you from the var­ied op­tions. Take drivers for ex­am­ple. Let’s say Club A is a modern low-spin­ning driver and Club B is a more for­giv­ing, higher-spin­ning model. A tour pro is likely to love A and hate B, while a mid to high-hand­i­cap­per is likely to love B and hate A. It doesn’t mean one is ‘bet­ter’ than the other. Both are do­ing ex­actly what they are de­signed to.

Which club is best for you will de­pend on how you swing and what you need from a club to en­hance that and move your launch con­di­tions and ball flight closer to their op­ti­mum. It’s that way through the bag. Cus­tom fit­ting works for any stan­dard of golfer. You might not think you swing con­sis­tently enough to ben­e­fit from it, but you do.

But not all cus­tom fit­tings are cre­ated equal. Some don’t have the fa­cil­i­ties, op­tions and ex­per­tise, while oth­ers are sales ploys in dis­guise. So you know what a proper cus­tom fit­ting should in­clude, we un­der­took the process with lead­ing club­maker Derek Mur­ray at Fore Golf in Ire­land. In do­ing so, we un­cov­ered the 11 golden rules for the per­fect fit­ting.

GOLDEN RULE #1 Hit out­doors with pre­mium balls

An up-to-date launch mon­i­tor and an out­door hit­ting area en­ables the fit­ter to col­lect all the data and see the com­plete ball flight. Use proper golf balls or, at the very least, pre­mium range balls to en­sure that data and ball flights aren’t skewed. Most launch mon­i­tors are set up in range bays so you’ll likely be hit­ting off a mat but the op­por­tu­nity to go out­side and hit off the grass is very help­ful since how a golf club re­acts with the turf through im­pact has a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on per­for­mance. The abil­ity to take a launch mon­i­tor with you is a big bonus.

GOLDEN RULE #2 Ac­cess all the clubs on the mar­ket

It’s sur­pris­ingly dif­fi­cult to find a club fit­ter that gives you the chance to hit ev­ery avail­able club since many are af­fil­i­ated to a sin­gle brand or have the ca­pac­ity to offer only two or three man­u­fac­tur­ers. A brand ag­nos­tic fit­ter en­ables you to try ev­ery­thing and guar­an­tee you find the best clubs for you. A wide se­lec­tion of shafts and set-up specs that you can ac­tu­ally try will also help you gather more ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion. A good fit­ter can pre­dict

how tweak­ing specs will af­fect per­for­mance but it’s bet­ter to ac­tu­ally try it and see for your­self. GOLDEN RULE #3 Have a proper, qual­ity con­ver­sa­tion with your fit­ter

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is a vi­tal part of a good fit­ting. The more in­for­ma­tion the fit­ter has about you and your game, the bet­ter po­si­tioned he is to lead you in the right di­rec­tion and help you make the best de­ci­sions. It’s al­ways a bit of a red flag if the fit­ter doesn’t ask you lots of ques­tions. The ar­eas you should cover are abil­ity, the clubs you cur­rently use, strengths and weak­nesses, ball flight ten­den­cies, the type of cour­ses and con­di­tions you usu­ally play in, how you like clubs to look and feel, your gen­eral goals and what you’re look­ing to achieve from the fit­ting and your new clubs. There should be good back-and­forth dia­logue through­out the en­tire process and you should never be afraid to ask your fit­ter any­thing.

GOLDEN RULE #4 Mea­sure and hit your own clubs first for com­par­i­son

The fit­ter should mea­sure the loft and lie of your cur­rent clubs. What is stamped on them or listed in the of­fi­cial spec is not al­ways ac­cu­rate be­cause there are cer­tain man­u­fac­tur­ing tol­er­ances when clubs are built which can al­ter over time. You should also hit shots and gather some data with your cur­rent clubs be­cause it’s im­pos­si­ble to judge where you’re go­ing if you don’t have a start­ing point.

GOLDEN RULE #5 Re­lax and don’t change your tech­nique

Try to be re­laxed and swing ex­actly as you would on the course. A club fit­ting can be stress­ful for some, while oth­ers will want to swing out of their boots to im­press the fit­ter. The more closely the swings and shots you pro­duce in the fit­ting are to your gen­uine per­for­mance, the more ac­cu­rate your fit­ting will be. Re­mem­ber, the fit­ter is there to help, not judge you. A good

fit­ting should last at least an hour (de­pend­ing on how many clubs you’re look­ing for) so you shouldn’t feel any time pres­sures.

GOLDEN RULE #6 It’s wise to start with the irons

Mur­ray likes to start a full bag fit­ting with the irons be­cause it eases you into the ses­sion and how you hit th­ese clubs and what you get fit­ted into gives the fit­ter a lot of in­for­ma­tion about your swing ten­den­cies and per­sonal pref­er­ences. It also forms the main body of your set and al­lows the other clubs to be fit­ted around them. There are more op­tions in irons than any other cat­e­gory but what you like and works for you – in terms of per­for­mance, looks and feel – will help the fit­ter zero in more quickly on the clubs he knows will im­prove your game in other cat­e­gories, too. Find­ing the right irons is about un­der­stand­ing what will help you score bet­ter. That could be in­creased dis­tance, for­give­ness, launch, feel, work­a­bil­ity – or var­i­ous com­bi­na­tions of all those fac­tors. Ul­ti­mately, you want to iden­tify the irons that help you to hit the ball ac­cu­rately to a spe­cific tar­get as con­sis­tently as pos­si­ble.

GOLDEN RULE #7 Wedges should give you so­lu­tions not more ques­tions

The dis­tance you hit your pitch­ing wedge is the start­ing point for get­ting your wedge gap­ping right. You need to evenly cover the yardages down to about 80 yards with three wedges, four if your PW is strong and hits the ball a long way. Choose the lofts based on the carry dis­tances you need to hit for even gap­ping – not just evenly spac­ing the lofts. Your bounce and grind op­tions will be de­ter­mined by how you de­liver the club­head to the ball, the types of cour­ses you play and shots you need to hit. You want your wedges to help you hit the shots you need, whether that’s a sta­ble and more for­giv­ing gap wedge for full shots, a sand wedge that makes bunker play as easy as pos­si­ble or a lofted wedge you can use for flop shots. It is es­pe­cially im­por­tant to hit from a va­ri­ety of grass and bunker lies when you’re be­ing fit­ted for wedges in or­der to get a true and var­ied rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

GOLDEN RULE #8 Move from long irons into hy­brids when your dis­tance gap drops

There are big ques­tions re­gard­ing when you move into bridg­ing clubs be­tween your irons and the driver and what form they should take. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, launch height and spin will in­crease and work­a­bil­ity and con­sis­tency will de­crease as you go from long iron to hy­brid to fair­way woods of the equiv­a­lent loft. The de­ci­sion boils down to per­for­mance and what you want from th­ese clubs. Firstly, you need to move out of long irons at the point where the dis­tance gaps drop. For ex­am­ple, if you have 10-yard dis­tance gaps through the set and your 4-iron only car­ries five yards fur­ther than your 5-iron then you should re­place the 4-iron with a hy­brid be­cause the ex­tra launch and spin will in­crease the carry dis­tance. If you’re a strong hit­ter with good gap­ping right up to 3-iron then it’s more about the shape you like be­hind the ball and the tra­jec­tory and level of work­a­bil­ity you re­quire. When it comes to your three-wood, whether you need it as a driver sub­sti­tute off the tee, a club you’re more likely to hit off the fair­way or both will in­flu­ence which model is right for you. More lofted fair­way woods can also help golfers strug­gling to launch hy­brids.

GOLDEN RULE #9 Find the op­ti­mum dis­tance and ac­cu­racy for driver

The driver that pro­duces your long­est shot isn’t nec­es­sar­ily the one for you. The driver that has the long­est av­er­age dis­tance, im­proves your bad shot and en­ables you to be ac­cu­rate enough to hit most fair­ways will help you score the best. Make sure you judge per­for­mance on the av­er­age of all your shots rather than your best shot with each club. Length is more im­por­tant than ac­cu­racy, but the lat­ter is still a key fac­tor. Mur­ray likes to do the driver last in a full fit­ting as it en­ables him to see where the swing tends to break down when you’re a bit more tired – and find the best so­lu­tion.

GOLDEN RULE #10 Get the specs you need

Your fit­ter should check the spec­i­fi­ca­tions of each club are ex­actly

what you were fit­ted for and or­dered when they ar­rive. Un­for­tu­nately, this isn’t al­ways the case, and there’s no point go­ing through a cus­tom-fit­ting ses­sion if you don’t re­ceive the clubs you need at the end of it. If they aren’t, the fit­ter should tweak them to your specs or send them back to the man­u­fac­turer to be ad­justed for no ex­tra charge. A club fit­ter that also builds the clubs will make this much eas­ier, but they are in­creas­ingly rare th­ese days.

GOLDEN RULE #11 You have to see real im­prove­ments

The whole point of get­ting fit­ted is to help you hit bet­ter shots and im­prove your scores. If this isn’t hap­pen­ing or the re­sults aren’t match­ing what you ex­pe­ri­enced in the fit­ting and ex­pected from the fin­ished clubs then take them back to the fit­ter. A good cus­tomer ser­vice will al­low you to check what you have and make changes if it isn’t work­ing. This is all part of what should be­come a healthy on­go­ing re­la­tion­ship with your club fit­ter. This en­sures you get the best clubs for you from some­one you trust and guar­an­tees re­peat busi­ness for the fit­ter so it’s a win-win re­la­tion­ship for ev­ery­one in­volved.

A wide va­ri­ety of brands is cru­cial to get­ting the right gear for you.

There are good rea­sons for start­ing your fit­ting with your irons.

If your clubs aren’t the spec you were fit­ted for, they must be tweaked.

The driver that pro­duces your long­est shot isn’t al­ways the one for you.

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