Should Beginners Get A Golf Club Fitting – Is It Worth The Money
Golf swings are like fingerprints, no two people have the same action. For a start we all have different body shapes, levels of athleticism, height, weight and power. So why would you grab something off of the shelf when, for no extra money, you can get something made bespoke for you.
The options in club-design these days are almost endless. The technology to dissect your swing and how to get the most from it has never been better. Now is the time to get clubs made especially for you.
Today we are going to take a look through the kind of things that are on offer to help you get the right clubs for your bag. What are the kind of things that you can choose between and what tools can help you make those decisions.
What difference does the Golf Swing even make?
The golf swing is a very complicated action. Tiny differences in speed or club position can result in big changes to the flight of the ball. Custom fitting allows you to increase the chances of you hitting the ball well and consistently.
The average American golfer swings a driver at around 93 mph. On tour, swing speeds with the driver are above 110 mph. So as golfers get better they tend to swing the club harder, this means that they need to get clubs that can handle this speed.
You see, that’s just a quick example but the benefits of being fit well goes way beyond clubhead speed. By having an expert build a club or clubs for you, you start to stack the game in your favour. You will be increasing the chances of striking the ball consistently well and you will gain confidence in your game.
Big benefits will come in terms of spin control and everything else mentioned above. Importantly though, a shiny new custom fit club will not cure a bad swing. Sometimes you need to spend time with a PGA pro before you take the plunge on clubs.
Should beginners get a golf club fitting or just improvers?
I truly believe that beginners will see more benefit and gain more value for money by spending time with a PGA pro rather than a club fitting. At this point in your golf journey things will change a lot and, like a toddler in new clothes, you’ll outgrow your fitting quickly. Learn the basics with a pro you get on well with before you go custom on your clubs.
Spend your money on monthly, or even more frequent, lessons. Here you can learn how the golf swing affects the way a ball flies and you can start to build a more consistent swing.
When you are just learning, your swing will be so inconsistent that it would be almost impossible to properly fit you to a club set-up. Consistency is the key to better golf at every level of play so that is your first goal.
Once you have a more consistent action and have learned the kind of things you like in a club, you’re ready for a fitting. It always amazes me just how many people believe that bespoke clubs are just for elite golfers. Custom fitting has been widely-available for over two decades now and should be taken advantage of.
This all sounds expensive…is it?
It can be, but it really doesn’t have to be. The fitting session itself is usually around £50, however many will wave that fee if you go on to buy the clubs. They are just trying to stop timewasters who just want to try new gear.
Clubs come with a host of no cost custom options now. You can create a set of clubs that fit your game perfectly yet cost the same as the ‘off the shelf’ option. This is another reason that it baffles me when people decide not to do it.
Even if the fitting session costs you money and this isn’t taken off of the cost of the club/clubs you buy, it will almost certainly be worth the price. This is your chance to have clubs that are made just for you, don’t miss it over the sake of a few more bucks.
It can get very expensive once you start to get into the world of premium and exotic upgrades. For a golf gearhead like me, this is always difficult because there are so many goodies out there! If you have the money then go for it but remember to check your ego, just because it costs more doesn’t mean it is better for you.
What kind of things can be customised?
Club fitting doesn’t take long, especially in the hands of experts. Think of an exceptional tailor, you walk in and he already knows what size of suit you are. One swing and these guys and girls are already on their way to knowing what you need. This video explains the stages in good detail.
There are many things that the technician will want to look at and your height is where it all begins. After that, you will get to make some choices based on personal preference too.
Loft and lie
The first step in a club fitting is to look at the physical set-up of the club in terms of your swing. Your height makes a big difference as does the distance between your hands and the ground when you stand tall. Both of these factors will combine to determine the lie angle and length of the club.
Once that is sorted, the technician will start getting an idea of ‘where you miss’. This, along with your swing speed, will start to determine what kind of shaft you need and how stiff it should be. They will also be looking at things like your angle of attack (how steep you swing the club) to sort what loft you need your clubs to be.
This really is the ‘engine room’ of the club so it is really important to get this bit right. Like a cyclist in the wrong gear, you can make things much harder or easier for yourself by making a good choice at this stage. Go for something that suits you when you are swinging naturally. Please avoid the temptation to try and impress the technician with how hard you can hit it at this stage. He or she will definitely have seen someone hit a 6 iron 200 yards before, sorry.
You will then want to start thinking about things like if you want steel or graphite shafts. Steel gives you much more feel and is heavier. Graphite is best for those who need the reduced weight to help them gain some yardage.
Other things that are customisable here are the stiffness of the shaft. Those who swing it harder will want a stiffer shaft to help them with stability through impact. You can also think about weight here too.
Many manufacturers have been building lighter shafts to increase swingspeed but there is something that feels good about extra weight. Added weight is also good for those who are in between shaft stiffness and need an intermediate step.
Things like the swing-weight can also be changed, depending on how fast you swing, by changing the weight of the shaft. You will also choose what grips you want on the clubs and how thick or thin you want them to be. Yes this is comprehensive and it is also so much fun.
Finally, grip technology has never been better and there is a vast array of products out there that can help. The GolfPride MCC +4 has an extra-thick lower hand portion to give extra control and other products are designed to give extra feel. These are just some examples of the grips you can now select between.
Will this be done on a launch monitor?
These days, probably. However, other tools will help in the development of your golfing prescription. Old school tools like a chopping board, some stickers and Sharpies can be helpful tools to add to the data coming from the launch monitor.
Many technicians will have an idea of the kind of set-up you will need just by your height and after watching you swing a couple of times. Not to make you feel self-conscious but they will literally be sizing you up from the moment you walk in. Don’t put on a front and try to hit the ball harder, leave your ego at the door and just swing naturally.
Some brands also have their own tools to help the technician in coming to a final fit. The Mizuno Swing DNA is an incredible piece of kit that takes real time readings of what the shaft is doing during your swing and really aids in the final set-up.
There are so many tools at the disposal of the person giving you a fitting. Nothing beats experience though so try to get someone who has been doing this for a while.
What can I hope to fix by getting custom fit?
Well it won’t make your spouse any happier that you are at the golf course, they aren’t miracle workers. It will really help you with consistency of strike and control of the ball. If you have a fairly consistent swing and then get a good fitting then you can expect a more solid game.
If you hit the ball too low or too high then that should be fixed. If you are prone to the odd shank or two then that could be due to a bad fit with the club and this could be fixed too.
Please remember, a club fitting is not a lesson. Too often you hear people getting fitted and trying to get tips from the pro, they aren’t there to fix you, they are there to fit you.
What if I love my clubs and don’t want to change?
There are certain things that can be done in this case, especially if you have forged irons. Tell your pro that you would like to check your clubs for fit and go through the bag with him or her. Some changes can be made that may really help you.
One thing that is always worth checking is your ‘gapping’. This is the consistency of the loft between your irons. Many manufacturers aren’t so stringent when it comes to quality control and your pro can solve this issue.
Depending on your clubs, he/she may also be able to change the lie angle and even re-shaft the clubs so that you have something that is as good as new and perfect for you.
What else can I do with my current clubs?
Some really basic but overlooked things like grip size can make a huge difference. You should be re-gripping your clubs every year anyway and make sure you have the right size. I use grips that are, when you refer to textbooks, too thick however I prefer the feel.
You can also change the shaft that is in the club and in doing so the length. Be careful that this is all done properly though. Changing the length of a club affects the weight and the lie of it so this must all be done by an expert.
Can clubs be resized?
As I said, above, yes they can but you need to be careful. If your pro is telling you that you should get longer clubs, then you can consider altering your current set. To do this you will need to re-shaft the set as I really don’t recommend adding plugs to increase shaft-length.
You will want to take this chance to try a few different brands and models out there to see which works best for you and which you like the feel of most. Remember, the longer a shaft is the less stiff it becomes and vice-versa. Keep this in mind.
Can I just get my driver re-shafted?
In the era of adjustable drivers, switching your driver shaft has never been easier. If you fancy a change because your swing speed has changed significantly but you don’t want to change driver entirely, think about getting a new shaft. Again, you will want to do this with the help of an expert.
Try different shafts and see which one brings you the best performance. You may well just find that the big dog you have been playing for many years gets a whole new lease of life. Again, get fitted for the right grip too, this will bring even more benefit.
Like everything so far in this article, the two most important things are to try many and have an expert guide you. Don’t be brand loyal, you may find something from a company you wouldn’t normally buy from and if the data shows you it is better for you then that is that.
Should I get a beginner set or get fit for clubs?
If you are new to the game then the beginner set is going to be perfectly suited for getting you up and running in your golf journey. It can be surprising just how good these clubs are. This is a great value way of getting a full set and learning how to play.
I am all for custom fitting and getting bespoke clubs, however, when you are just starting this is unnecessary. This set will last you for a while and during this period you should get lessons to improve your technique. This is the most efficient way to spend your money at this stage in your golf.
Don’t get too hung-up on equipment when you are at this stage. You have all of that stuff to look forward to. Spend this time getting consistent in your game, it will just take some time and effort.
The amount of equipment on the golf market now is incredible, there really is something out there to help anyone. This is why you really need the help of an expert to guide you through the choices that are right for you. A good fitting technician can narrow down your options and then let you make a final choice depending on your personal preference.
Unwrapping a set of clubs that are made just for you is a very special feeling. It makes you feel like a pro golfer who has visited the tour van and it really brings some confidence to your game. If you have the money and you play enough, there really is no excuse not to get a fitting these days.
Every few years you should get your current equipment checked to see if anything could be working better for you. At this point you can even try something new to see if that’s a better option. All of this is made easier when you have been getting lessons from a good coach.
By building a solid swing, custom fitting works magic. You will start using tools that are made especially to suit your game and that can never be a bad thing.