Fit To Be Tee'd

A look inside the TPI fitting experience

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The Editor’s Perspective:
What Comes First? Clubfitting Or Golf Instruction?


It wasn’t until I, along with Ken, spent the day at the TPI at the Palm Desert Golf Academy, that I fully comprehended the relationship golf instruction can and should have with clubfitting. Like Ken, I went through the TPI process of physical assessments, a review of my shot tendencies and, finally, a look at the current makeup of my golf bag.

The process proved enlightening, especially the part where I learned that even though I have ample flexibility and strength to help me make a better golf swing, my glutes were the weakest aspect of my game, and I needed to train them harder in the gym (you can e-mail jokes to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , but trust me, I’ve already heard most of them). I was especially enthused by the series of workout tips I should follow, not to mention learning that my clubs happened to fit my game nearly perfectly (nothing beats that for some extra confidence). But what I really wanted to learn was how the TPI integrates golf instruction with clubfitting. Here’s what I found.

I assessed Ken’s situation. As Paul evaluated Ken’s physical ability and later video-recorded Ken hitting balls with his current set of clubs, he began developing an idea of training aids, exercises and swing fixes that would be best for his swing. This is where things got really interesting. Paul then conducted a short trial-and-error session with a few different clubs, using both Ken’s clubs and some new clubs with different lie angles—i.e., the kind of clubs that would normally be prescribed to Ken had he just seen a clubfitter who based his fitting advice solely on Ken’s shotmaking results and not on his fitness level or swing ability. As Ken continued to hit golf balls (sometimes using a lie board to see exactly where the club was making contact with the ground), Paul was observing the ballflight, as well. Turns out, even with clubs slightly more suited for his swing, Ken was still hitting pulls and pull hooks to the left. Hence, Paul’s advice to Ken was to keep hold of his current clubs until he’s in better shape to make better golf swings first, then maybe think about making changes to his club set.

You see, in Ken’s case, even with better-fitted golf clubs, he still had work to do on his golf swing if he truly wanted to see improvements. This kind of open honesty not only is refreshing, but also is the truth for most folks who want to play better golf. Now, Paul did prove to me that clubfitting definitely can have lasting, and sometimes immediate, effects on some golfers, but for others like Ken, it’s only one part of the equation. For them, a more comprehensive program such as the TPI regimen (fitness, swing and clubfitting) is what’s required for a total fix.

I suppose the moral of Ken’s story is this: Don’t rush to a clubfitter and expect miracles; rather, first consult with your instructor for advice on what kinds of swing fixes you’ll need to play better. Once you do that, then see a clubfitter and be sure to speak your mind. Tell the fitter what you’re working on, what you want to accomplish and so on. After a fitting, go back to your swing instructor so he or she can help you take your properly fitted clubs and make the most of them and your golf swing. This advice is particularly sensitive for mid- to high-handicappers with more room to improve. Better players are more likely to adjust faster to new equipment and start seeing more dramatic results from just a clubfitting experience than, say, a higher-handicapper will.

So, start with a swing lesson, get your clubs fit, then get to work on your golf swing with the help of an instructor. Do things in that order, and you’ll see better results. Or, kill all three birds with one stone and find the closest TPI nearest you.
—Ryan Nol

Learn more about the Palm Desert Golf Academy at Desert Willow Golf Resort, Palm Desert, Calif., by contacting (760) 340-4057 or www.palmdesertgolfacademy.com.


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