The R11S may have built in fitting options, but a clubfitter can take it to the next level.
Clubfitting and golf lessons naturally go hand in hand. Or do they? A good clubfitting session should always entail some kind of instruction. After all, an expert teaching pro is likely to conduct the clubfitting session and will perpetually want to tweak something in your swing. And that's okay, because, ultimately, you want clubs that fit right and a swing that can take advantage of the club technology on a consistent basis.
That said, a good instruction session should not necessarily include clubfitting–unless the clubs truly don't fit your swing. But how are you to know, until you're already in the lesson? Many golfers actually shy away from taking lessons, for fear that the instructor may try to sell them new clubs. If that's you, either go to a pro you trust or one who's referred, or find out in advance who you're dealing with by finding out as much about the instructor as possible. A good teacher won't always try to sell you clubs. After all, you go to a lesson mostly to improve your swing with a few tips. Do you really want a sales pitch during the middle of your lesson?Companies like Cleveland Golf have tech vans that travel the country so you can get fit like a pro.
By themselves, both clubfitting and lessons can truly help golfers improve their game. When they complement one another within one big game-improvement session, however, they can catapult your game improvement to another level. But there's a time and place for everything. Case in point: I recently attended a two-day golf school. The first three hours, I hit balls on the range and received some solid instruction. But then, as part of the school's package, the pro fitted me for a new TaylorMade driver. Nice idea, but bad timing. The fitter measured my swing, which at this point in the morning was simply awful, due to my aching, tired body that just pounded two or three rounds' worth of range balls under the hot desert sun. He gauged my performance with both the R11S and the Rocketballz models, versus my current and older Titleist driver, and determined that the R11S was the far better choice for my swing. Still, he preferred my current driver to either TaylorMade model.The Truth About Lessons And Clubfitting By themselves, both club fitting and lessons can truly help golfers improve their games.
Before Tom Davidson, PGA director of golf at Circling Raven Golf Club in Worley, Idaho, gives a lesson or clubfitting session, he always asks students what club they use on specific holes–instead of how far they can hit each club. "It's a much more revealing answer," says Davidson. "Most people either overestimate their shot distances or have no clue. I also look for wear patterns on the clubface and grip. It's kind of like playing C.S.I. with the clubs. People have no idea how they hit the ball. Some guys are techies with launch-monitor numbers but are utterly clueless about their game and swing."
Any way you look at it, your equipment affects the motion of both your swing and the ball–so you can rely on a good pro looking at your equipment during a lesson and at your swing during a clubfitting session. Davidson advises you to do your homework before you get fitted or take a lesson. Let the pro know up front what club or part of your swing you're trying to change and why. Also, have realistic expectations about your distances, how quickly the lessons will improve your game, and what new clubs will do for you.
Fast-forward three weeks. I'm on a vacation relaxing and decide to play a few rounds of golf. So I use rentals, which happen to include the very same Rocketballz driver that the fitting session deemed inferior for my game. Identical shaft and flex. Yet this time, I pounded it far better than I could my current driver. My tee shots went farther and straighter. Thus, it goes to show that a truly productive clubfitting session needs to be done properly–after you've eliminated wild cards such as a sore, tired body; extreme weather conditions; frustrated mind-set; or a pro who's unfamiliar with your swing or hasn't watched you hit balls for a while.Start with a fitting session on the range, but validation comes when you hit it on the course. —Paul Loegering, Taylormade-Adidas Golf
While excluding these factors will help the quality of your lesson or clubfitting session, you might also consider undergoing those sessions on the course rather than on a driving range. Some major club manufacturers fit their Tour pros for clubs directly on the course. For that matter, many Tour pros also get their swings tweaked by their instructors on the course, too. The driving range can be too sterile of an environment for some golfers, who find that their nonpressured driving-range swing is far different than their midcompetition, on-course swing.
Paul Loegering, PGA Tour relations manager for TaylorMade-adidas Golf, fits a lot of Tour pros for clubs. "With today's technology, we adjust clubs on the driving range, and Tour pros can try different shafts in the same driver quickly," he says. "We get that initial validation at the range. But when we walk the course with the pro, we see if we need to make further adjustments. Once the golfer gets to the tee box, our clubfitters see the shot shape. For example, we might set a player up to make sure that he can't hit the ball left, by opening the clubface and putting more weight toward the toe. Then, on the course, he might swing it harder and turn the club over a little bit. I've walked many holes with both the players and their teachers. I'll ask the teacher to show me how he wants the player to swing and I'll set up his clubs to fit it. It justifies what the teacher is trying to do with the player. And that way, the player can trust the clubs, if he has to be more aggressive with his swing."
Loegering's advice to amateurs pursuing clubfitting sessions: "Start with a fitting session on the range, but validation comes when you hit it on the course." He believes on-course lessons and fittings will soon be commonplace for amateurs.Some major manufacturers fit their tour pros for clubs directly on the course.