A guide to golf club fitting

Golfer getting a golf club fitting

Every golfer looking to improve their game can benefit from golf club fitting. This guide takes a look at what’s involved in the process and what you can expect from it.

Buying golf equipment is a fun but daunting experience. Fun of course for the fact that when it is all said and done you will have a sweet new set of gear to haul around your next loop, but also daunting because not only is the shop filled with endless options, each one of them comes with a price tag that leaves a lot to be desired.

It’s no secret that golf is an expensive sport. Before you ever hit a shot, you can end up dropping thousands on decent equipment alone. If you are going to start to take the sport seriously, chances are you are going to rack up a few large credit card charges in your quest to assemble your dream bag. That’s unavoidable, but unfortunately, many players aren’t getting the most out of their purchases.

No one would buy a shoe without making sure it is the right size, but all too often players settle for equipment not optimized to their personal specifications. Today we will be going over the custom club fitting process so that next time you pick up a new set of clubs you will be able to make sure it is perfect for you!

What is golf club fitting?

Club fitting is a process in which a professional uses statistics to observe the particulars of your swing. They look at your height, posture, set up, and club head speed, and use that information to determine what specifications are best for you.

How is this done? It really depends on who you see. Chain golf stores are unfortunately not known for having the most in-depth fitting procedures. This is mostly due to the volume of their business. Since there may be dozens or even hundreds of locations for a given chain, it is difficult to be sure how specialized the training of each onsite pro is.

If you can manage it, a good way to get fit is to go to a specialist certified by the manufacturer you intend to buy from. The certification will ensure that they are adhering to important quality standards.

That said if a chain store is all you have access to you should still be fine. I got my fitting done at a chain retail store and have been more than pleased with the results.

Fittings used to consist mostly of impact tape (a tape that fits onto your clubs to show where you are making contact with the turf and the ball) and a lot of shots hit at the range. Both still work  and in fact you can still count on the tape, but a lot more goes into the process now.

Launch monitors have done much to change the way that fittings take place. Now, you can have your fittings done indoors, using a mat, a net, some sensors, and a pretty cool computer system. The launch monitor (with the help of the sensors) monitors the details of your swing as you hit shots, and documents your stats.

After a few swings hitting into the launch monitor the computer will know your clubhead speed, ball speed, side spin, and angle of impact. Often times, the computer will even feature a television screen there to replicate how your shot would have looked on the course. While the launch monitor is not explicitly necessary to the process, it will definitely help improve the precision of the fitting.

Usually, the biggest part of the process will be fitting you for your ideal shaft. While the loft and lie of clubs bought off the rack may fit most players without much of a problem, the shaft is a rather finicky aspect of the golf club.

All too often players will opt for the stiffest shaft they can find. Since the stiff shaft is generally associated with players that hit the ball a long way, there is a macho connotation attached to it.

Unfortunately, the stiff shaft isn’t right for a lot of players. Even those that swing the club fast may be better off with the standard flex. Since shaft flexibility is as much about tempo as it is about actual swing speed, the watchful eye of a professional is definitely going to help you make the best possible decision in this department.

While the fitter is fitting you for a shaft they will not just be looking out for flex, but also weight and length. Both can radically impact the tempo of your swing as well as how you set up to the ball.

A club fitter is also probably going to have shafts from a number of different manufacturers for you to sample.

Finding the correct shaft is the biggest service that your fitting session will accomplish but they will also take measurements based on your set up to ensure that the loft and lie of the clubs are suitable for your setup.

They will also have a variety of grips for you to try out. Grip fitting is mostly feel based though they may add or subtract thickness depending on your needs.

Should I get fit for my next set?

A lot of pros will answer with no uncertainty that yes, you should, but keep in mind a lot of pros also get paid to do club fittings. Still for what it is worth I would say that if you are serious enough about the game of golf to even ask that question, you probably should get fit for your clubs.

If you only ever intend to play once a year there really isn’t much of a reason to go through the trouble of it, but if your goal is to improve as a player, you definitely want the right equipment to get the job done.

A club fit to the specifications of your swing isn’t automatically going to straighten your shots and add yards to every swing but it will help you to get the best possible contact for each shot. You cannot buy your way to better scores in golf but you can take measures to ensure you have every possible advantage.

Here are a few advantages to having your clubs custom fit.

Narrows your options

There are hundreds of shafts and grip combinations out there and while you can read reviews for them in a golf magazine or online you really won’t know how they will fare for you without trying them first. You can walk into any golf store and try and a wide selection of clubs, but it is only through the fitting process that you can experiment with different grip and shaft options.

Longer shots

That’s what everybody wants, right? The increase in distance often associated with club fitting is a product of shaft fitting. If your shaft is too heavy, too light, too stiff, or too flexible, you’re going to be losing some yards.

Precise

Ideally the difference in distance between your clubs is going to be around 10 – 15 yards. If you hit your 8-iron 150 yards, you should ideally hit your 7-iron 160 yards.

Unfortunately, with clubs bought off the rack, you can’t always count on that. Granted the distance gap is still going to be somewhere in that range, but you won’t be able to count on the same consistency you need to play really good golf.

In short, getting your clubs optimized your swing is the natural next step for the golfer that takes improvement seriously. Practice is great, of course, but if you practice with clubs that aren’t best for your swing there is a limit to the success you can achieve.

Furthermore, practicing with clubs that aren’t great for your game can also lead to bad swing habits. In order to get the results you desire you may run the risk of unconsciously making adjustments to your swing that are harmful to your game.

How much does golf club fitting cost?

How much your club fitting costs is going to depend mostly on where you go, and on whether or not you already own the clubs that you are getting fit for. If you are arranging to have your clubs adjusted to new specifications, you can expect to budget for about $40 a club. If you are getting the whole bag done (as most people would do) you can expect to spend about five hundred dollars total.

If that doesn’t sound extremely pleasant to you, I can empathize. Spending five hundred dollars to change something you already own is not a very appealing notion, though a case could be made that the benefits will make the purchase worthwhile, especially if you intend to hold onto your sticks for many years to come.

On the other hand, if you are buying a set from a pro shop or retail store you can expect a better deal. Many pro shops will offer free club fittings if you then purchase the equipment through them. At retail stores, you can expect to pay an additional fifty dollars or so, though some offer the service for free as well.

Where to go

As I have mentioned you can really get a fitting anywhere that golf clubs are sold, but if you are planning to buy a full set along with your fitting you will probably want to find a place that will offer the fitting services for free or at a bargain.

What to look for in a fitter

You want your club fitting to be as thorough as possible. Every measurement, shaft and grip test that goes into the process is designed to help improve your game, so you want to make sure that the fitter is well equipped for an in-depth session.

Before scheduling an appointment feel free to ask the fitter questions. You may want to ask how many different shafts and grips they have, if they are certified, and how long their sessions take. Generally speaking, the longer the appointment, the more in depth the fitting.

Of course, as is true of all services, if you can find reviews from friends or online about a fitter, all the better. Generally speaking though, if you find a certified fitter with lots of equipment options, you can count on a quality session.

So how long should it take?

That’s a good question, and the answer depends on what it is you are having done. Getting fit for the driver alone can take an hour. If you are getting the whole bag done you can probably expect to spend several hours with the fitter.

If a club fitter advertises a time significantly shorter than this you should reconsider accepting their services, as it most likely means that they are not as thorough as they should be.

What if my swing changes?

Ironically, the prospect of improving often keeps players from making the decision to get their clubs fitted. Many people rationalize that they will go in for a fitting when their swing gets good enough to warrant it.

After all, you don’t want to go through the lengthy and potentially expensive process of getting a fitting when you will just grow out of those specifications in a few months anyway, right?

Fortunately, that isn’t exactly how it works. While over time your specifications may change a little bit it most likely isn’t going to be enough to impact your game. Chances are your set will serve you will until it is time to get a new one, at which point you can get refit to accommodate your new swing.

Conclusion

Hopefully, at this point the question you are asking yourself isn’t “Should I go for golf club fitting?” it’s “Where should I get fitted?” As you know, golf isn’t easy. There are no magic fixes but why not give your equipment the opportunity to work with you instead of against you?

Will it make you a scratch player? No. A club fitting is simply going to help you play the very best that you are already capable of. In golf, that’s about as much as you can ask for from your equipment.

Good luck on the course!