Can My Current Clubs be Custom Fit for Me?

Posted by on Sep 9, 2011 in Clubfitting | 13 comments

I understand.  You’ve become aware of the benefits of professional clubfitting, you want to see if custom fitting can make a real difference in your game, but you don’t want to spring for a totally new set of clubs because your clubs aren’t that old.

Can your existing clubs, or can clubs you just bought off the rack in a golf store or pro shop be custom fit to your swing and how you play?

For a couple of the 13 key fitting elements, yes, for a fewmore of the 13 key clubfitting elements possibly, but for all of them, no they can’t.  In addition, the number of fitting specs that can be retro-fit to meet your needs depends on the skill of the clubmaker doing the adjustments to the clubs.  But rather than talk around this, let’s talk directly about it by going over each of the fitting specifications, one by one.

Length and Swingweight:  If your best fit length is longer or shorter than your existing clubs, sure, the shafts can be cut shorter or extenders can be epoxied into the end of the shaft to make them longer.  That’s easy.  The tough part is whether the clubs can be re-swingweighted to meet your swingweight requirements after the length change.  If the clubs are cut shorter, you’ll likely need weight added to the clubheads to get the swingweight back up to the proper level that matches your swing and preference for the feel of the clubhead.  There are only two ways to do that in clubheads made for a set bought standard off the rack – weight would have to be put at the very tip end of the shafts or lead tape put on the outside of the heads.  And for graphite shafted clubs, to do a proper job of adding weight in the tip end of the shaft, the clubmaker has to remove each shaft to put the weight in from the tip end.

If you need to drop the weight of the clubheads to achieve your best fit swingweight at the new length, sorry, that cannot be done.  While grinding weight off the head seems a solution, in practical terms this really can’t be done on any metal woodhead because the walls of the head body are too thin.  On stainless irons, weight could be ground off, but few clubmakers have the equipment or skill to refinish the heads to look good.  On forged irons, the heads would have to be re-chromed at about $40 a pop or else they’ll rust.

Loft and Face Angle:  It’s unlikely you would need different lofts for the irons, but if you did, a skilled clubmaker with a loft and lie adjustment machine should be able to bend the new loft into each iron head.  If the heads are made from 17-4 stainless steel (most PING and CALLAWAY irons) you’ll have to find a very experienced clubmaker to do the bends.   So that’s possible for sure.  For your metal woods and driver, sorry, you can’t change the loft or the face angle so if you do need a different loft and face angle on your driver and woods, you’ll have to buy a new clubhead.

Shaft Weight, Flex, Bend Point, Torque:  If you need different shafts to better fit your swing, no question, any skilled clubmaker can pull your old shafts and install the new shafts.  But if the new shafts are of a different weight or to be installed to a different length than what you had, anytime you change shaft weight or length, re-swingweighting the clubs is required – and we’ve already explained the challenges and limits to that one.

Grip Style and Size:  Piece of cake for your old grips to be replaced with ones you like the feel of and which fit your hands better for comfort.   The only thing you have to be aware of is if the new grips are a lot lighter or heavier than your old ones.  If so you may need to have the swingweight adjusted to get it back where you like it for your swing tempo and timing – and once again as I’ve explained before, this could be a problem.

Total Weight: Total weight is the overall weight of the whole club.  It is chiefly controlled by the weight of your shafts.  So if you need a lighter or heavier total weight to better match to your transition force, tempo, rhythm and strength that’s done by changing to a lighter or heavier shaft which still has the right flex, bend point and torque to fit your swing.  See the comments above for shaft changing.

Set Makeup:  So many golfers have bought off the rack clubs in the usual set makeup of 1, 3, 5, 7 woods and 3-9, PW, SW irons.  Most of them are playing with sets that have at least three clubs they can’t hit well enough to merit them being in the bag (3w, 3i, 4i).  If the clubfitter recommends a set makeup change, plain and simple this means buying the clubs new you need to get the set makeup where it needs to be to help your game the most.

Clubhead Design:  Well, this one’s obvious.  You can’t magically change one style of clubhead into another.  If the clubheads on your existing set are not the best for your manner of play, now you really know you an attempted retro-fit of your existing clubs is a total waste.

Conclusion:   I know money can be tight these days for a lot of us, so a retro-fit might seem to be the best of all worlds to help golfers get fit without buying a whole new set from scratch.  Best advice I can give you if you are dead set on a retro-fit?  Retro fit the irons but be fully custom fit from scratch for a new driver and woods.   Seriously though, the only way to really experience the full game improvement benefits from professional clubfitting is to be fully fit by an expert clubmaker for all custom fit clubs, each one custom built from scratch to fit you and your size, strength, athletic ability and swing characteristics.  It really can make so much more difference than trying to cobble together your existing clubs to fit.

Until next time, best wishes in this great game,



  1. Tom,

    At what point are you cutting off too much from a steel iron shaft? I have read all kinds of things that say as long as you butt trim, you can take off whatever you need (yeah….right), and I’ve also read that you can probably butt trim up to 2 inches before you considerably start affecting shaft flex. Any and all wisdom/thoughts/input are greatly appreciated. I look forward to your response and have a safe and happy memorial day weekend!

    • RON:

      That all depends on the definition of “cutting off too much.” if you mean, will additional butt trimming change the flex/stiffness design of the shaft to make it be some flex other than what it was designed to be, yes, there is no question as you cut the shaft shorter and shorter off the butt, unless you reduce the tip trim as you keep butt cutting you will make the shaft play more stiff than it was intended. However, some of that can be offset by making the shorter length club to have a normal swingweight. To keep a normal swingweight as the length is cut shorter, you do have to keep adding weight to the head. As you keep adding headweight, even with the shaft being shorter from more butt cutting, that added head weight causes the shaft to exhibit more bending during the swing. So it is pretty much only if you start cutting the butt to bring the length of the club down to -3″, -4″, -5″ under standard length that you would start to see a definite stiffness increase that could hurt performance – but it certainly depends on the golfer too.

      The other thing that happens when you keep butt cutting is you get down into smaller diameter parts of the shaft. This means when you install the grips, they either will come out smaller than you may want, or, they might not hold on to the shaft very well from a case of the shaft’s diameter being smaller than the core diameter inside the grip. In such cases, you can always keep wrapping masking tape around the end of the shaft to increase its diameter back up to meet that of the core of the grip.

      Pretty much the only time you get into an odd situation with this is if you cut the butt way down to make a junior length club. It would be very rare to make sets of clubs for adults that would be as much as 2″ shorter than standard length. So in 99.99% cases of making clubs for adults, you won’t have any problems as long as you end up swingweighting the clubs within a reasonable high to low range for the golfer. Thanks very much and the very best to you in this great game !


  2. I was just wondering how much data from trackman and such goes into custom fitting. Thks .

    • Andre

      It depends on several factors – how many clubs are being fit to the golfer for one – full set vs just individual segments of the set such as the driver only, woods only, irons only, wedges, etc. Also how deeply extensive the fitting is to be done – e.g. Trackman is great for nailing down what iron lofts deliver the most consistent distance gaps so a player could be hitting every single iron and then having each loft adjusted individually to obtain same distance gaps based on differences per each iron in their angle of attack, path, face delivery, etc. Most of the time the most frequently consulted launch parameters will be studied for the driver fitting – launch angle, spin, angle of descent, shape of the ball flight, smash factor. Clubhead speed will be critical for all INITIAL shaft fitting work and has to be done separately for the driver vs the irons for this.

      But most of the fitting decisions for elements like lengths, lies, face angle, shaft wewight, total weight, swingweight, grip size and additional input for shaft flex/bend profile are done by the clubmaker making certain measurements of the golfer, carefully observing the golfer’s key swing characteristics and the golfer’s typical ball flight shape, and consulting the golfer for frequent feedback on perceptions from test clubs. These things are beyond what any launch monitor can help with and require a good bit of study, knowledge and experience on behalf of the clubfitter to know how to take the observations and measurements and feedback to translate all those things into the specific fitting specs for these fitting elements listed.

      In short, a clubfitter with extremely good experience in these above evaluations doesn’t really need a launch monitor to do a quality fitting. And a clubfitter without this depth of observational knowledge and experience who simply has a big time launch monitor is never going to do a good of a job in the fitting.

      Hope this helps. If you do need help in finding a good fitter, email us with your location to and we will be glad to consult our data base of good clubfitters to let you know if there is someone good in reasonable proximity to where you live.

  3. Hi Tom. Love your honesty in these articles! Thanks for sharing your club fitting expertise. Just curious…I got fitted for about half of my set at GolfTec and then seemed to be able to get the rest of my irons fitted at Golf Town. My question is this: I am a higher handicapper…but in terms of the fitting much of my set seems to include more game improvement than super game improvement. I would like to include an SGI transitional 7 iron but according to testing at Golf Town, it appears my trajectory is better with my game improvement 7 iron. How accurate are the typical testing screens where you hit your ball into, and would I not, as my buddy at Golf Town who’s seen my swing, benefit from my SGI clubs overall or stick with the GI irons as the results have shown?

    • GERRY:
      Thanks very much for your appreciation of my commitment to be completely honest in my articles, so I will do the exact same to answer your question about your fitting requirements. With full and complete respect to your buddy at Golf Town, rarely do the people who work at the big retail golf stores have the proper training and experience in the full swing analysis of a golfer and in the knowledge of being able to accurately recommend ALL of the key fitting specs that a golfer needs in his custom fit clubs. It’s not their fault, it is just that the business of working in a big golf retail store that sells clubs off the rack made by the big companies just does not include the depth of training and study that some of the independent custom clubfitters possess from years of independent study of the technology of full specs fitting.

      The best level of custom fitting for most improvement involves a complete analysis of EVERY element of the golfer from all physical measurements to analyzing every part of the golf swing – then using that input with good knowledge to come up with what every single one of the key fitting specs should be for every club in the set. Meaning lengths, lofts, lies, face angles, shaft weights, shaft flex, shaft bend profile, total weight, swingweight, clubhead model, set makeup and grip size. Trying to do that using clubs already made to a series of standard specs is very tough to do and pretty much always leaves some important fitting factors short of what the golfer needs in total.

      Very good clubfitters are to a golf club what a tailor is to a suit – everything of the golfer measured and analyzed and everything built from scratch in the clubs to each have every determined spec. And that just does not fall in line with the business model of the big retail stores and the big companies. So from my standpoint, I would recommend you search through these following lists of independent custom clubfitters to see if there is one near you. Go see one if there is one near you and talk about this, go through an analysis, and see what the full complement of the recommended fitting specs will be, and then think about how you want to proceed from there. While there can be some little performance differences for sure between what is considered an SGI and GI classified head model, the real performance benefits from custom fitting go beyond that to include every one of the key fitting specs I listed above, as determined by someone with years of knowledge and experience in the field.

      Hope this helps, and here are the links to lists of the better independent custom clubfitters –

      The AGCP (Association of Golf Clubfitting Professionals) –

      The ICG (International Clubmakers’ Guild) –

      The TWGT Clubmaker Locator at –

    • I had been club fitted earlier by GolfTec Tom and they had fitted me for my game improvement irons from 8 iron and up. I can play my game improvement (Adams Redline) 5 iron as well and the A12 OS 6 hybrid turned out to be the right club there. I am sure I can test between the Redline 7 iron and A12 OS transition 7 iron and go from there. The more forgiving the better I figure!

  4. In reply to George. I understand that the Golf Science guys in Cape Town do TW clubs. They might even be in JHB which should be closer to you.

  5. Hi Tom. The old chestnut about peripheral vs blade/forged vs cast. Appreciate your comments. I’m a graduate of what used to be the San Diego Golf Academy and a good friend of Gene Bonk who I am delighted to see is now one of your Clubmakers. I have had the same set of Mizuno blades since 1998, with DG SL regular shafts since 2005. I’m 55 and off a 6 here in Swaziland, southern Africa. Always been a short hitter, early wrist cock release, relied on the short game to hammer Gene(he may beg to differ). Recently I was handed a Taylor 8 iron shovel (CGB) with 65gm graphite shaft which I proceeded to smack over the same green I had minutes before hit with a 5 iron. Did it 5 more times just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Now, I subscribe to the “blade equals game improvement” on the basis that my swing had better be good to catch that little devil dead centre. Buuuuuut! 8 iron over a 5 iron??? Even with the ridiculous lofts they con us with today, that is an amazing difference. So here’s what the diablito on my shoulder is whispering: Georgie Boy, swallow the ego and get the shovels. El angelito meanwhile is insisting, Shove some graphites into the blades, pick up 10 metres and be happy. If there was a Wishon man in southern Africa, I would go. But the nearest is 4,000 miles way in England.
    Final thought: I have debated with Gene my ultimate carry set – 10 clubs: putter; driver, 16 and 22 degree hybrids; 4 irons with 6 degree gaps (28, 36, 42, 48); 52 and 58 degree wedges. What’s your opinion on the need for 14 clubs? Thanks Tom.

    • George:
      Thanks much for the post!! When I happen to take a drive cart to play fast and get more holes in before dark, I have been known to carry over 20 clubs in my bag! Since I am a designer, that’s my prerogative because I can always say “I’m out testing clubs”. . . HA!! But when I sling the old bag over the shoulders and head out to walk, that number never exceeds 13 sticks in the bag!! I’m a strong believer in only carrying what you need to give yourself no more than a 15 yd difference between clubs. 15 yds is 45 feet and the last time I checked, most greens were at least 50 feet deep from front to back – and most of us are reasonably proficient in being able to 2-putt from 45 feet most of the time. So 15 yds is a distance gap between clubs we can all live with easily. And in viewing your proposed set makeup, I should think it would satisfy this gapping requirement.

      As to the shovel or the blade, for you as a very experienced player, the decision has to come down to which one do you REALLY like the looks of behind the ball day in and day out? And after that, ask yourself this – now that you know how far you can hit the shovels, if you did go with the shorter hitting blades would there ever be a time when you regretted not having that distance with the blades? As long as the shovels are decent looking enough behind the ball to never cause you to vomit when you address the ball, most golfers would opt for the greater distance. BUt in the end, it is YOUR decision!!!!


  6. I am a assistant professional golfer who has just custom fitted a client. His wrist to floor measurement was 37 inches, he is six feet tall and i initially thought he might need more upright clubs, ping recommends white dot which is three degrees upright but seems excessive.

    During the fit i gave him a club with a netural lie angle but one inch longer than standard, he flushed the club twice out of the middle so much so that it was imposible to tell that he had hit the club twice from the impact tape.

    I am looking to make sound recommendations, would you advise on any different lie requirements or just stay with the added length.

    Thankyou for your time

    • TOM
      Based on our wrist to floor chart data, a 37″ measurement indicates a STARTING point for length as a 44″ driver and 38 1/4″ 5-iron. Note I said STARTING POINT. Whether that becomes the final length depends on the golfer’s, 1) golf athletic ability; 2) swing path; 3) swing tempo/timing; 4) point of wrist-cock release. Better ability, inside out path, controlled tempo and later release means the length COULD (not should) go longer than the WTF initially says. Lesser ability, outside in path, quick/fast tempo and early to midway release means the lengths should never go longer than what the WTF initially says. Do also remember in irons, there is no rule that says the length increment between irons has to be 1/2″. For players who measure to need longer lengths in the irons, it is a good idea to move these people over to a 3/8″ length between irons – doing that means you do not have to go as long on the lower loft irons and you automatically see the mid to higher loft irons get longer by progression. After all, with people who have shorter arms for their height, it is usually in the 7, 8, 9, wedges that they end up needing the longer lengths to prevent them from having to crouch or bend over as much. 3/8″ increments helps that a lot more than going overall long and staying with 1/2″ increments.

      Lie wise, really, I have to be honest – there is NO GOOD WAY to be accurate in lie fitting using only wrist to floor and height. Lie in the irons should always be fit dynamically – putting tape on the sole of the iron, hitting balls off a hard surface board, noting where the board impacts the sole, and making the lie adjustments based on getting that sole impact dead center on the sole. No static lie fitting chart/method can take into account how the shaft droops down and how we golfers do not have the same hand position/posture with every iron at the moment of impact. Dynamic lie fitting does.


  7. Happy to help but one could write a book on this topic based on all the pros and cons that exist in some golfers’ minds !! I think I can keep it simple. On paper if a golfer is totally interested in getting the most he possibly can from his equipment, no golfer like that would ever touch a blade muscleback because of their horrible off center hit performance. But the mind can control things that logic and common sense should instead, so that means there will always be some golfers who just plain insist on making up whatever excuses or reasons to justify their choice of a blade. Blades do NOT allow a golfer to work the ball better than a cavity back. No they don’t despite the myth. Blades do not improve on center hit performance because there is more metal behind the point of impact. As long as the cavity back has enough face thickness to ensure rigidity upon impact, which is typically around 3.0 to 3.2mm thickness, then there is no difference between the thick impact section of a blade vs the cavity back. And in truth, if a cast and forged head both have the same weight distribution and size, there will not be any difference in performance or feel between the two. What makes some think the cast feels different than the forged is that they are hitting a large, deep cavity back casting vs a smaller, thicker body section forging. such weight distribution differences will change the vibrations in the head from impact and from that can change impact feel to the experienced feel sensitive player.

    but at the end of the day, when it comes to selecting the clubhead to play with, there is no question that the golfer has to play with whatever LOOKS GOOD to him based on all his years of preferences he develops from playing. And so sometimes a golfer can become so pre disposed to one type of head model, like a blade, that psychologically he cannot play with anything else. if so, then that’s what he has to play with, although it is always worth trying to talk them into something a little more forgiving !!



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