What do I mean by clubfitting’s soft side? It’s the subtle things that each individual golfer brings to a fitting based upon their own sense of looks, sound and feel. A good clubfitter will obviously dial in the right length, weight, shaft flex, shaft profile, loft, lie and swing weight. In our fittings we optimize the performance for a shaft and head combination and then move to other heads with the same shaft to see if performance can be improved even more. We would typically start with a head the customer is either playing now or wants to purchase. This puts the customer in a comfort zone of a familiar look. But, it is amazing to me that once I start changing heads using the same shaft and specifications, performance can change, and sometimes it is dramatic.
Let’s first talk about the look of the club. When TaylorMade introduced us to white clubs, the reaction was mostly positive but some golfers said “no way”. Same thing with iron heads that are black or have bright chrome finishes. While a clubfitter might think the design of a particular club is best, if the TrackMan numbers do not show improvement or the customer cannot make consistent contact, the look is not working for him or her. Sometimes the golfer will tell me immediately if the look is not appealing but not always.
Next, is the feel of the club. This has a lot to do with both the head AND the shaft. Sometimes the head will feel mushy or harsh, especially with drivers. A shaft can also feel soft or stiff when the shaft really is lighter or heavier than what the customer is used to. Not uncommon also for customers to feel a particular head as being “heavy” when in fact it is no different than the previous club in terms of total weight and swing weight. I attribute this to the actual head may be appearing bigger, having a wider top line, being a darker color, etc.
Finally, the sound of the club can make a difference as well. Remember the old Nike Sasquatch driver? It was so loud that some country clubs actually banned it from the driving range! Thank goodness most manufacturers have gone to more muted sounds. I still find that sound is probably one of the more important aspects of the soft side of fitting as a customer is used to a particular sound of the ball coming off the clubface.
A good clubfitter will always ask questions like “how does that feel to you?”, “do you notice any difference in sound versus the previous club?”, especially if the fitting performance starts going downhill. So in your fitting, do not be afraid to mention what clubs look, sound and feel the best to you. The advantage we have is that by using a connection system with literally thousands of head and shaft combinations, we are not limited to off-the-rack combinations. That way we can optimize performance with clubs that look the best to your eye, sound great and feel comfortable.