12 Myths That Could Wreck Your Golf Game (End)
I was “custom fitted” at the driving range (or retail store or pro shop).
Maybe you were, and maybe you weren’t. There are many definitions of what constitutes “customyfit golf clubs” or a “customyfitting session”. Let me see if I can describe it this way.
Let’s say your car is looking pretty trashed out. At one level, you can hose your car down with water and squirt off the worst of the dirt. That’s an improve- ment. Not great, but better than nothing. At the next level, you can get out the bucket and soap and give the car a good scrubbing. That’s even more of an im- provement. Or you can pull out all the stops and scrub it, rub it out, wax it, and detail it inside and out. Now you’re ready for show time. The point here is that each of the above can be described as “getting the car washed.”
Getting custom fitted for golf clubs is much the same. There are several lev- els, and all can (and have) been used to describe “customyfit clubs.”
Let me give you a quick summary here, but in the appendix to this booklet I have placed a checklist that will help you to determine whether you are getting a real custom fitting or not. Please take a look at that list any time someone tells you they are going to “custom fit ” you for golf clubs.
Level One: Hitting some shots with provided clubs at a driving range or retail store. This is a trial-and-error “Demo Day” approach. You can be fitted with any club you want—as long as it’s one of theirs and they happen to have it in stock.
Level Two: This is “Demo Day” on vitamins. You hit several drivers while an electronic device called a launch monitor analyzes your swing. Assuming the $9/hour sales person has a clue as to what the launch monitor is telling him, again, you can be fitted with any club you want—as long as it’s one of theirs already sitting on a rack. Another Level Two fitting is grabbing a club or three from a nifty “fitting cart” parked on the range. This is fine for measuring one or two fitting parameters, but not the 20 or so factors that a professional club- maker can individually tailor for your swing.
Level Three: Now we’re getting into what I consider to be a true custom fitting. It usually starts with you being interviewed concerning your past playing tendencies and desired improvements. You will then be manually measured for club length and electronically measured for swing speed. From this information, the clubmaker will present you with a variety of shafts, grips and heads that he feels are acceptable. You make your choices from among those recommendations. Next, he will build a pilot club that you can test out, and alterations will be made from there. After this test period, needed changes will be noted and the final club built.
Level Four: This level would consist of everything mentioned in Level Three, plus a detailed analysis of your existing set and a careful analysis of the proposed set as it is being built. Attention is paid to matching shaft frequencies or club MOI, swing weights, loft and lie tweaking, grip buildups, spine aligning, dead weight, balance point and so forth. This process, exclusive of the club building, takes about eight hours or so spread over multiple visits. This is the rubbed-out, waxed, and detailed version of our car wash.
And like the car wash, each of those four levels could be described as being a “custom fitting,” but do you see the differences? Without the right information the person is simply guessing—and he’s using your wallet to guess with. That’s why I recommend true custom fitting, done by a professional clubmaker, so strongly.
Custom fit golf clubs are only for really good golfers
Nope! The truth is exactly the reverse of that.
Look at it this way. The pros and very low handicappers are skilled enough to be able to play well with almost any golf club. You, on the other hand are not; which means YOU need properly fitted golf clubs even more than THEY do. You need custom fit clubs to minimize your swing errors and to maximize your swing strengths.
Now, let’s be clear—I am NOT saying you can “buy” skill as a golfer. I am not saying that by spending enough money, you can somehow go from being a double-digit handicapper to qualifying for next year’s U.S. Open. Buying new clubs—even truly custom built ones—is NOT a substitute for learning and “grooving” the proper swing fundamentals. Never has been. Never will be.
I AM saying, however, that equipment that doesn’t fit—that is the wrong length, or loft, or weight, or balance—can keep you from being all that you could be as a golfer (at any level), and it might even keep you from becoming a golfer at all, what with the fact that some three million golfers leave the game every year.
The idea of custom fitting is to have clubs in which the individual design characteristics of the clubhead, shaft, and grip are matched to your swing. Further, they are assembled to allow you to maintain essentially the same swing throughout the set, yet give predictably different distance and trajectory results because of the way each club is designed and built.
This is the essence of clubmaking and design. Unfortunately, that almost never happens because so few golfers ever do more in their search for their perfect golf clubs than to drive to the local golf store or click on their computer.
The average golfer could lose five to six strokes by simply realizing that the golf club is not a “club.” It is not something that is used to beat things into submission. It really IS a superbly designed, surgical-quality instrument—if you take the time to discover how it can be fitted to complement your swing. The idea here is to play the game with one swing and 14 controlled results—NOT 14 swings and 144 prayers.
Yes, it’s true, golf is inherently a difficult and often frustrating game; but that’s part of its charm, part of the fun. As with any game, however, if poor equipment rigs the game so you can’t possibly win, suddenly it becomes a whole lot less charming and not fun at all.