Selecting a Custom Clubfitter

Ian Poulter Titleist BagSelecting a custom clubfitter can be a daunting task.  Where do you go and what should you look for?  According to Golf Digest and a study done by an independent research company a couple of years ago, nearly 80% of golfers feel that custom clubs would help their game.  But, I have to tell you, there is a HUGE difference between custom fitters and the products that you get after being custom fit.  Golf Digest has selected the Top 100 Clubfitters in America every other year since 2011.  D’Lance Golf Performance Center has made the list in each of those years.  If you are not located near us or a Top 100 Clubfitter, here are some questions you should ask about the custom club fitter:

How long have you been custom fitting clubs?  It is not uncommon to find inexperienced clubfitters in a lot of retail golf or sporting goods stores.  After training over 100 clubfitters, I can tell you it takes several fittings for the clubfitter to know what to look for and how to help the golfer get the optimum out of the fitting process.  A clubfitter that has done over 50 fittings should have seen most everything:  beginner golfers, high handicap, low handicap, ladies, juniors, long drive players, etc.  Our fitters have been doing high tech clubfitting for nearly 20 years for thousands of golfers.  We have developed a very specific process for clubfitting that guarantees improvement.

Do you have an interview process to better understand my game and equipment I am looking for?  We have developed an interview process that covers everything from your current level of play (score, handicap), how often you practice and if you are taking lessons.  Then, we dive into what you want to accomplish and how each section of your bag (driver, fairway woods, hybrids, irons and wedges) are performing.  This little diagnostic gives us a better idea of your “pain level” and where to focus our fitting.  Kinda like going to the doctor, right?

Does the fitter evaluate my current set of clubs?  A good fitter will want to examine what you are currently playing and look at several key factors:  Club length, shaft flex, shaft weight, loft, lie and swing weight.  By looking at these factors, your fitter should be able to make at least a preliminary assessment of clubs that are miss-matched in your bag, and maybe to you.  The longest, lightest yet stiffest club in your bag should be your driver, while your wedges will be the shortest, softest, and have the heaviest shafts.

What clubs do you have me swing in the fitting?  Most fitters will have you hit your 6 or 7 iron in an iron fitting, and your current driver in your driver fitting.  The fitter should use a ball flight monitor like TrackMan, FlightScope or Foresight to measure club speed, ball speed, smash factor (an efficiency rating), launch angle, spin rate, attack angle, maximum height, and shot dispersion.  This will give the fitter a baseline from which you should expect improvement.   A proper clubfitting also looks at the dynamics of your swing.  This includes tempo, transition and release.  The Mizuno shaft optimizer is a good tool for this and actually makes iron shaft recommendations.

How do you select which clubs I should test in the fitting?  There are a couple of aspects to this.  First, the golfer should give the fitter feedback on what he or she likes to look at, any nuances as to sound and what may feel good in terms of weight and shaft flexibility.  Not every golfer has a great sense of feel.  Sometimes in a fitting, a golfer will not be able to hit a particular club very well and it may come down to simply the look at setup.  The next thing is what clubs the fitter has available.  We have a club connection system that allows us to literally fit thousands of head and shaft combinations.  If your fitter only has a couple of demo clubs and shafts, your fitting will not be optimized.  You will only get the best of the available options with no verification on a ball flight monitor.  Finally, the fitter should have a fitting system that actually makes initial recommendations for each club in your bag for length, shaft weight, shaft flex, shaft design (launch and spin), and swing weight.  During the fitting process, the fitter will make slight modifications to these initial recommendations based on your performance on the ball flight monitor, and then dial you in to the proper loft and lie for each club in your bag.

Do you build the clubs to my specifications?  This is where the major difference comes between a custom set of clubs ordered from a manufacturer and a set of clubs that is custom built to the exact specs determined in the fitting process.  Here is the difference.  A set of irons from a major manufacturer can be order to a specific length, loft, lie and swing weight.  You can specify a type of grip and number of wraps.  But you only have a choice of a few shafts and the flexes are fairly well set.  And, you really do not know if the shafts you get have been tested at the length you ordered to make sure they will perform the same as what you used in your fitting.  We build the clubs to the exact flex (using frequency matching for consistency) and swing weight as well as length, loft, lie and grip size customization.  This attention to detail insures you that what you ordered is what you receive.  Same thing goes for driver, woods, hybrids and wedges.  And, do you have the option of just putting a different shaft in your clubs instead of purchasing new ones?

What kind of guarantee do you offer?  A good fitting will reduce shot dispersion by 50% and increase distance 5-15%.  A lot of companies out there offer 90 day playability guarantees but maybe only give you 90% credit when you bring back the set.  If your set is custom fit and custom built, you should get a 100% guarantee.  That’s what we do.

How much does your fitting cost?  As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.  The big box stores pride themselves on “free” fittings but you usually are limited to a half hour.  Our fittings run from one to three hours, depending upon whether you do just a driver fitting, woods, irons, wedges ora  full bag.  Pricing runs from $100 to $450.  The big difference is we offer a LIFETIME fitting.  This means that once you pay for a fitting, you can come back next week, next year or five years from now and get fit for no additional cost.

So when you are getting ready to get custom fit for your next set of clubs, make sure you go to a fitter that gives you the best value AND delivers a set of clubs that improves your performance.  At the end of the day, you should see improvement in distance, accuracy and consistency throughout your bag.  And, once you have that, you will have the confidence in your game to make any shot you need to make!

Dan Sueltz