Custom Fit or Off the Rack?

The next time you go to the golf course or the driving range, take a moment to observe how different golfers are in their size, strength, athletic ability and most of all, in their swing characteristics.  Then stop and think how golf clubs have always been sold to all these different golfers.  All of the different brands and models of golf clubs all sitting in displays, already built to a pre-ordained series of standard specifications determined by each golf club company.  It is no different than a shoe store stocked with all the different brands and styles, but with all the men’s shoes stocked in a size 10 and all the women’s in a size 7.

Yes, you do get a choice of a couple of different shaft flexes within the one shaft model installed in each club model. And you can choose between a few different lofts in just the driver.  Did you know that there have never been standards in the golf industry for how stiff any of the letter flexes of shafts are?  Did you know that many golf companies make their driver heads so the loft is actually different than the loft number put on the head?  Did you know that there are no less than 13 different fitting elements in golf clubs that need to be custom fit to each golfer to enable them to play to the best of their given ability?

Now think about this.  Like baseball and softball, golf is a sport in which we use a “stick” to hit a ball.  But golf is the only “stick hits ball” sport in which the “sticks” are sold in a standard, mass produced, one size fits all manner.  When you go to a sporting goods store to buy a bat, just like golf clubs you see all the different brands and models of bats sitting on racks, ready to buy.  But the difference is that all the bats are commonly stocked in different lengths, different weights, different handle diameters – the three key “fitting specifications” for a bat.

If a sports store sold bats the same way golf shops sell golf clubs, no baseball or softball player would ever buy a bat there. Why? Because baseball and softball players all know to be able to hit the ball to the best of their ability, they need to use a bat that has the right length, right weight, right handle diameter to match the player’s size, strength, athletic ability and swing.

Same for tennis, another “stick hits ball” sport.  Premium quality tennis rackets are offered in a series of different grip sizes and are never pre-strung.  Tennis players pick the grip size they need to fit their hand, and then pick the string type and string tension based on their swing speed and manner of play.  What’s more, in tennis, string tension, which is the equivalent to shaft flex in a golf club is standardized through out the entire tennis industry.  When you ask for your racket to be strung to 55 lbs of tension, that’s what you get.  In golf, because there are no standards for flex, the R-flex from one company can be the same stiffness as the S-flex or A-flex from another company!

Golf clubs are sold off the rack, built to one series of standard specifications because it would be far too difficult for the golf companies to make all the different combinations of custom fitting specifications that golfers need, and too difficult for the golf retail stores to stock all the different brands and models in all the different custom fitting options that all the golfers would need to fit their swings. So golf clubs have remained a “one size fits all” business and golfers have been led to never question it.

That’s too bad because within this more convenient business model of the golf equipment industry, golfers are getting the short end of this business stick. When custom fitting is performed by a knowledgeable, experienced custom clubmaker, each club is customized and built for all 13 of the key fitting specifications to the individual needs of each golfer.   When accurately and fully custom fit,  golfers can see visible shot improvement and can then play to the best of their ability.

Because the big golf club companies have always built and sold their clubs to a “national average” of golfer size, strength and swing ability, whenever golfers buy new clubs and experience no visible shot improvement, they blame themselves for the problem. After all, the game is difficult to master and it can’t possibly be the fault of the clubs, right?

Wrong. Yes, the game is difficult to master. But anyone who was reasonably good in sports when they were in school should be able to hit golf shots with more than a 50% success rate. The problem is that a population of golfers that are very different from each other in their size, strength, athletic ability and swing characteristics simply cannot play their best using golf clubs which are built to one series of standard specifications.

During a television interview aired on The Golf Channel, Tiger Woods was asked what he noticed the most about the amateurs he plays with in pro-am events. His response was that he sees very few golfers who are ever custom fit with clubs that could accent the positive things they do in their swings and reduce some of the effects of the chronic mistakes they make.  In a 2011 interview with GOLF magazine, Nick Faldo made the comment that 98% of all the golfers he encounters do not play with golf clubs that are fit to match their swings.

Are YOU still playing with standard made clubs bought off the rack? If you are, you are definitely reducing your chance to be able to play to the best of your ability.  As the leader in custom clubfitting design and technical research, Tom Wishon Golf Technology welcomes you to learn more about professional custom fitting, to find a custom clubfitter in your area, and to experience how professional custom clubfitting can help you play to the very best of your individual ability.

Find a Clubfitter