Posted on January 12, 2016
Today starts a three part series on fittings and golf from the perspective of a golfer and consumer. This trilogy on fittings will cover its absurdities, future and why in the end a proper fitting is absolutely necessary. Reserve your judgement until the end.
Getting fit for your clubs is hands down the new *it* fad in golf. Nationwide chains have covered the U.S., selling the ultimate fitting experience at an ultimate price. This idea isn’t new, but is the effect a placebo?
Fittings have been involved in golf since the beginning. In fact, previous generations would buy custom fit clubs from their club pro. He and his assistants would assemble the clubs, cut to length, wrap the leather grip, and bend the loft and lies. These clubs were unique to you. This was the age of the personal golf experience.
The popularity of golf and other factors led to mass produced clubs and “stock” options. Golfers began buying clubs at big box stores and selected clubs off the rack. One could say that fitted clubs became a boutique business, but let’s face it, it was always a boutique business. Golf grew and the demand for premium, fitted clubs grew less.
While custom fitters have served golfers for many years, today seems to be a renaissance of the art of custom fittings. Fitters now carry a daunting array of shafts and heads (Sadly, not many grip options. However, they cannot ignore us forever.), creating an intimidating amount of options. When the whirlwind of a fitting ends, you are left with a spec sheet containing clubs priced well over what you expected to pay. These clubs are your unique set. But does the result justify the expense?
A friend and regular golf buddy of mine scheduled a fitting and whole heartedly believing in the fit, purchased a set of clubs through the fitter. Now had he bought theses clubs via the manufacturers direct, he would’ve saved money. An interesting argument for another article series. The clubs arrived and he put them in play. One year later, after an ample amount of time for adjustment, he’s no better. In fact, his game and handicap are exactly the same.
So what can we learn from this? Obviously, one small example does not mean fittings are pointless. However, beyond a certain point, the value of a fitting no longer matches the price. From personal experience, fitters push the value and guaranteed performance of aspects they cannot control. Imagine this in another situation. You purchase a custom fit suit, tailored to you. However, you get the suit home and, while it looks good, performance and comfort are no better, if not worse, than a size large you bought off the rack. That clothier would starve!
Loft, lie, length and shaft flex are variables that a golfer must check regularly. Like a physical from a doctor, checking these factors will influence and improve your daily golfing life. However, the technology and methodology of the modern golf fitter isn’t advanced enough to guarantee a fit. I’ve often wondered how the factors of temperature, weather and course conditions would influence a fitting. These variables ore overlooked in all fittings, even the highly lauded “outdoor” fittings.
This brings us to our initial question. Is a fitting a placebo? Sure, you may hit your fitted clubs exceptionally well, but do they perform year round? Remember, allegedly, Lee Trevino had a standing bet that he could out drive any golfer with a club made from a Pepsi bottle. Aside from loft, lie, flex and length (factors influenced by mechanics), anything else is simply a guess to accommodate the general average, far from the implied unique.
Keep reading with part 2, Fittings: the Future of Golf.
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