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.
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.