Just How DOES Professional Clubfitting Allow a Golfer to Play Better?
It’s understandable for a golfer who has only taken a serious look at golf clubs with heavily marketed brand names and only shopped for golf clubs in a big golf store or pro shop to view the concept of professional clubfitting performed by an independent custom clubmaker with some doubt. I get that.
For golfers to change their mindset to work with a professional clubmaker is something that requires a lot of proof or at least assurance that they’re going to end up with clubs that actually allow them to hit the ball better in some way than the clubs they have or the big brand name clubs they may be considering. To most doubting golfers, even an outcome of the custom fit clubs playing THE SAME as their current clubs would constitute a failure.
I’m going to be 1000% honest, because whenever I go shopping for something about which I have no technical product knowledge, I really do appreciate it if I can talk to a knowledgeable person in that product area who is completely honest. So to the golfers who know nothing about professional custom fitting and are skeptical about investing their money in custom fit clubs, believe me I know where you’re coming from and I am NOT going to BS you.
Hitting golf clubs better can be measured in tangible form – more distance, better accuracy, more on center hits, better “misses” from the poorer swings, fewer “off the world” severely missed shots, more up and downs, fewer putts per round. Any one of these is good on its own, more than one is great.
Based on a combination of YEARS of our own fitting experience with YEARS of talking to MANY different custom clubfitters around the world, I can tell you 75% of all golfers who undergo a full fitting with an experienced clubfitter walk away with some aspect of the clubs performing better than their previous clubs.
I will also add that among golfers who shoot between low-80s and 100, the success percentage can be expected to be more in the 80-85% level. The reason is because this segment of golfers is more “consistently inconsistent” in terms of the swing mistakes that produce miss-hits and poor shots that can more easily be reduced/improved by accurate fitting. Golfers who shoot well over 100 and who are more “inconsistently inconsistent” do experience improvement from fitting for sure, but typically they won’t see as much potential for improvement as will golfers who are more “consistently inconsistent”. Where golfers who shoot over 100 gain a lot from professional clubfitting is in the effect the clubs have on their success in taking lessons and making swing changes.
So who are the golfers that by my omission in the percentage figures do not experience an immediate form of improvement from being custom fit? First of all, a golfer really needs to be at the point in the game where they can hit >90% of their shots airborne and miss hit the ball reasonably consistent in terms of mis-direction. On the other hand, a beginner who learns the game with golf clubs which are shorter, lighter, higher lofted and with grips that fit their hand size will very definitely accelerate their learning of the swing fundamentals that will get them to the point of breaking 100 and becoming more “consistently inconsistent”.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are very low handicap golfers who by their own trial and error with different clubs, and fueled by their superior golf athletic ability which allows them to adjust their swing to differences in the clubs, can be custom fit and not see any tangible improvement in distance, accuracy, consistency over what they have. On the other hand, many low single digit golfers do see an improvement in accuracy, shot shape and trajectory and sometimes even in distance. The most common form of game improvement I hear from clubmakers when fitting very skilled golfers is that skilled golfer likes some aspect of the FEEL of their custom fit clubs better (weight feel or shaft feel) and from this they gain more confidence.
In this group are also the golfers who just happen to buy golf clubs that fit them OK. The majority of golfers who are accurately custom fit by a good clubmaker typically walk away with more than one of my stated tangible game improvement achievements. For most, the results are typically two or more of the following: 10 more yards off the tee, hitting 2-3 more fairways a round and losing fewer balls out of play, hitting 2-4 more greens in regulation or having shorter third shots into par-4 holes, getting the ball up and down 1-2 more times per round, and if putter fitting is included, getting around in 3-4 fewer putts.
Add it all up and that’s a pretty good form of success. After all, I recall the USGA said not too long ago that over a period of some 30 years, the average male golfer’s handicap has remained at 17. And that’s despite all this high tech new design in golf clubs that has come about chiefly in the past 20 years – golf club technology that I might add is SOLD IN STANDARD FORM OFF THE RACK TO GOLFERS and not custom fit.