I Was Custom Fit At The Big Golf Store (or Pro Shop, or Online)
No you weren’t; don’t even begin to think you can be fully and professionally custom fit at your local big box golf store, pro shop or online. I’m sorry to be that critical. The quality of custom fitting is measured by where you can go to achieve the highest level of visible, immediate game improvement, and I am here to tell you, it is NOT going to be at your local big box golf store, pro shop or online.
Why? Because the potential for immediate game improvement through custom fitting requires each golfer to be individually fit for all 13 of the key Clubfitting specifications for each one of the 14 clubs in the bag. Not 2 or 3 in a limited range of options only in the driver, but 13 clubfitting factors for all 14 clubs in the bag.
The 13 different fitting elements that need to be custom fit to each golfer are summed up here, including the sub-set of fitting elements within the clubhead design.
Golf retail stores and pro shops can only fit within the limitations of the standard off the rack business model of the big golf companies. If you doubt what I am saying, take this list of the 13 key fitting elements into your local golf store or pro shop and ask the sales person or the pro if they can fit you for every single one for each club in the bag and deliver the clubs so they are accurately built to each one of these factors. Game over.
To be fair, I’ll be frank about those who call themselves custom clubmakers. There are clubmakers and there are clubmakers. The latter applies to those who may have the ability to assemble or alter a golf club but who have not spent the time nor gained the practical experience to truly know how to professionally custom fit golfers. The former applies to those who are to a golf club what a tailor is to a suit.
The custom clubmakers who study clubfitting technology and have a passion to spend the extra time to analyze and then accurately build the best possible clubs for each golfer are without question the finest purveyors of golf clubs on the planet. So, how do you find a professional clubmaker? Skilled clubmakers practice their craft to create the best possible clubs for you that the science and technology of clubfitting (and USGA/R&A rules) will allow. You will find some of them working in their own small stand-alone, brick and mortar, store. You will find some of them working
at golf courses and driving ranges. And you will even find some of thempracticing their craft at home out of their garage or basement.
My point here is: don’t be put-off by where you find them. Some of the best clubmakers in the country work out of their home-based shop. Jerry Hoefling, Sr., a former recipient of the International Clubmaker of the Year award works from a shop in his home in Saginaw, Michigan. So, where a professional clubmaker is working or how good of a golfer he
personally may be has nothing to do with how much they can help you obtain custom fit golf clubs that will allow you to play to the best of your ability.
So, if location is not an indicator, what’s left?
What’s left is you!
When you hunt for a new accountant, lawyer, doctor, dentist, or mechanic, each a solo professional in their field, how do you do that? The process is the same for a custom Clubmaker. Talk to people who may have been custom fit. Talk to the pros at your golf course or driving range. Ask if they know of any experienced clubmakers in the area that they could recommend.
Another way of doing it is through the Internet. Go to the website of the Association of Golf Clubfitting Professionals (AGCP) at www.clubfitter.org or the International Clubmakers’ Guild (ICG) website at: www.clubmakersguild.com, and click on the AGCP link for ”Find a Certified Member”, or ICG link for “Membership Directory”. Or, you can visit my web site, www.wishongolf.com, and look for the “Find A Clubmaker” link on the home page. The clubmakers I list are individuals I personally know or have screened and in many cases, have personally taught.
Ultimately, you have to evaluate the clubmaker. If you are looking to have a club or set of clubs custom fit, go talk to him or her. Describe what you want and ask about their process for doing it. Ask them to provide you with a few names of golfers they have fit and contact them to ask their opinion. If what they say is consistent with what you’ve read in this book—then you’ve found a keeper.
The important point here is this…
The best golf clubs you will ever own are those that have been properly fitted to your size, strength, athletic ability and swing characteristics for each one of the 13 key clubfitting specifications. Bar none. Every other popular “stick and ball” sport (baseball, softball, tennis) routinely sells its “sticks” in all the custom fitting options its players need to play their best… except golf.
Yes, you might have to go through a bit of extra effort to find your clubmaker. However, believe me, the results will be worth every bit of it; and, as an added bonus, you’ll probably pay no more (and very likely less) than you would have paid for standard off the rack clubs at the big box store.