Clubfitting 101

There’s more than one way to get perfectly fitted clubs

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Here you’ll get individual attention from a qualified club pro who’s knowledgeable about swing mechanics. Frequently, you’ll also receive swing tips—they go hand in hand with fitting. The way pros fit you varies. If the fitting system he or she uses is from a club manufacturer, it’s skewed toward that brand’s clubs. Otherwise, if it’s from an independent fitting-system manufacturer, the resulting data can be universally applied to all brands. With the latter, many pros use high-tech launch monitors with sophisticated software that provides detailed swing data. Other pros prefer the old-school method of taking static measurements while you hold the club at address, then watch you swing while using a lie board, clubface spray and sole tape to figure out where you’re striking the ball. Either method is fine, as long as it pairs you with the proper equipment.

At some point in either process, the pro derives the right clubs for you by trial and error. You’ll probably be fitted on an outdoor range and will repeatedly hit a driver, using a slightly different version from one hit to the next. The club components will come from a fitting cart. The pro tapes the clubface, to help see where you make impact. He’ll also see how the ballflight is affected by each club or shaft change. Once he or she has determined your proper driver specs, he or she will likely hand you a 6-iron and repeat all testing, this time also taping the club’s sole, to help determine your lie angle.

“The advantage of going to a green-grass PGA pro is that you can see the ballflight, because you’ll probably be fitted outdoors,” says Virgil Herring, PGA director of instruction at Golf Institute at Gaylord Springs in Nashville, Tenn. “The ball won’t lie to you.” Some pros offer clubfitting free of charge; others charge a fee that they’ll apply toward any clubs you purchase from them. Another big advantage is that if you see your local pro, he or she will already know your swing.

Many golf discount shops or the golf department in sporting goods stores will put you through a brief fitting session for free. You’ll get measured on a launch monitor, which is great.

Beware of clerks who aren’t properly trained to fit swings—they may steer you to the wrong gear (although many have been trained by club manufacturers). And some large chains employ PGA pros for the sole purpose of clubfitting.

Ask friends and fellow golfers to find a reputable place. If you question the quality of your fitter, consider visiting a second and third store and undergoing a fitting session at each. That way, you can see if the analyses are consistent with one another before you buy clubs. At the very least, you’ll learn some things about your swing and which equipment specs you need.

Many shaft companies and some club companies offer interactive fitting programs on their websites (see for example). This is a great way to familiarize yourself with some of the products available and to get your ballpark specs. But to truly get proper equipment, follow up your online session with a real fitting through one of the above-mentioned venues.


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