IF YOU haven’t noticed, custom clubfitting has become more ubiquitous than craft breweries. As more equipment companies offer drivers with dozens of settings and bouquets of custom shafts, the golf consumer is at once tempted and swept away by a cornucopia of confusing choices.
As Jason Louey, category manager at Cobra Golf Australasia, explains, golf equipment is no longer a
“Should you walk in and buy a club straight off the floor? That depends if you want the best opportunity to improve or not,” he says. “Think of it this way: would you need to change the mirror and seat position if you jumped behind the wheel of my car?”
Fortunately, most Australian golf retail outlets are increasingly equipped with expert fitters divining the right heads, lofts and lengths with a wisdom that encompasses club technology, instruction ideas and even good, old-fashioned people skills. Ping’s product manager in Australia, Colin Field, explains: “Australian retail, both on and off-course, really believes in and commits to fitting when compared to other markets around the world,” he says. “We have invested heavily in technology, demos and consistently seek knowledge. As a result, gone are the days where the same specs are sold to each and every person. Generally fittings are conducted and if the specs are not available from stock, a custom order will be placed.”
In this year’s listing of Australia’s Best Clubfitters, we highlight the top facilities in the country that expertly bridge this marriage of art and science, and we offer some of their wisdom to prepare you to embrace the benefits of clubfitting.
How To Prepare For A Clubfitting
The most important thing is to bring your own equipment so that the fitter has a benchmark to compete against, says Louey. “It would be pointless turning up without your clubs.”
The customer should also be clear in what they want to achieve by getting fit, says Callaway Golf South Pacific general manager Matt Meredith.
“We start by sending a few simple questions to the customer prior to the session to give our qualified fitters some background and trends of performance. It is very important to understand what the player desires from the fitting in regard to distance, shot shape and accuracy. This gives us some base information as we start the process of getting the optimal club combination into your hands.”
Darryn Lowe, product and experiential manager for TaylorMade-adidas Golf Australia, says the customer must also leave any pre-conceived ideas at home before a fitting. “I think the most important thing is to go to a clubfitting with an open mind and be prepared to make a performance-based purchase,” says Lowe. “If you do this, you will end up with the best equipment for you and your game.”
But before any of this, Titleist’s director of club fitting, Brett Porath, recommends a ‘pre-fitting’ fitting for the one piece of equipment that will influence everything.
“You should definitely get fit for your golf ball and, ideally, use that golf ball for your clubfitting,” says Porath. “Golf ball fitting and golf club fitting are absolutely intertwined. When analysing launch monitor results you will get very precise spins rates and launch angles – exactly like you will experience on the golf course.”
Why Getting Fit Once Is Not Enough
One myth about clubfitting is that it’s like buying a tailored suit: get fit once, and use those specs for life. But that thinking is off-base, according to Lowe.
“Elite players have fittings and equipment checks all the time,” he says. “For the general club golfer, if they are making swing changes and being coached, a spot check every six months is fine. If the golfer is just playing without making changes, a clubfitting with purchase can be sufficient, which is likely every three to five years.”
Louey said age can dictate how often one should get fit. “An extreme example of this is Australian junior team member Louis Dobbelaar. He is 15 years old and 186 centimetres. Twelve months ago he was 14 and stood 168cm. I have personally fitted Louis every six months for the past three years. After his first major growth spurt he required over-length clubs as his torso and legs grew but his arms didn’t. When his arms caught up he was back to standard length, but now he is half-an-inch longer again. He has gone from short-long-standard-long.”
Field believes your first fitting experience shouldn’t necessarily start and finish in a day. “In some cases it is advisable to split the fitting over two separate sessions as many golfers tend to tire in a full-set fitting,” he says. “It may also be prudent to test the fitted club a second time to validate the fitting if initial results are not definitive.”
Master fitter at PnP Golf, Craig Smith agrees: “Getting your clubs fit over a 30-minute or one-hour session is not really beneficial unless you have consistent numbers right across the board,” says Smith. “To get a more comprehensive fit I would recommend your fitting is done over a few weeks. This way you have a data record of your fitting history.”
Ultimately there’s no one right way to get fit, according to Porath. “A lot of players like to space it out, one category at a time. At Titleist we can do the full bag at once. But it’s important to take a holistic view of the golf bag. For instance, with irons some golfers want to see what their longest iron is (so they know) where their hybrids should start. Always consider how each category affects the rest of your golf bag.”
Finding The Right Driver Isn’t Only About Swing Speed
Swing speed can be a starting point, but the best fitters want to see how you’re hitting the ball. If impacts are scattered across the face, for example, you can bet a large, highly stable driver is best for you, even if you swing it faster than Bubba Watson in a bad mood. The right driver is also about how the weight is balanced within the head. Knowing how drivers differ or how that weight can be tweaked can improve how far you hit the ball and how well you square the clubface. “When fitting drivers we like to count 30 swings in 30 minutes to find the best driver for our clients,” says Porath.
Finding a driver with the correct centre of gravity for the player, whether it’s forward, back or towards the heel, can change the person’s game. For example, a relatively straight hitter who is spinning the ball too much, even if he doesn’t swing very fast, can gain tremendous distance with a driver that will spin the ball less. “There are a number of parameters we look for when fitting a driver that can really help optimise a player’s trajectory, flight direction and efficiency,” says Callaway’s Meredith. “Centre of gravity and face angle play a crucial role in getting that clubface back to square in order to get the ball started on its intended target line. Loft is the other crucial factor as we can optimise flight and increase distance through achieving the optimal flight for your clubhead speed. We encourage players to be custom-fit for a driver as it is such an important club and generally one of the most difficult to hit, being the longest shaft and lowest loft.”
The Putter Is The Easiest Club To Get Fit For
Your putting stroke is generally your most repeatable, so that makes it the easiest to analyse, and sometimes the recommended changes (length, lie angle, grip) don’t require a putter change. Even if you want something new, resist the urge to test a bunch of putters off the rack.
“If you know what you are doing and have the right technology, then the putter is the easiest to fit but this is also the least-fitting club in the bag because it’s easy to pick one up you like and buy it off the floor,” says Lowe from TaylorMade.
Yet many of our experts agree their go-to club for a fitting is the 7-iron. “Everyone is comfortable with a 7-iron,” says Cobra’s Louey. “It is also very easy for experienced fitters to see flight discrepancies from incorrect lie angles.”
Meredith adds: “We like to fit people with a 7-iron as it provides consistent data and is a comparably easy club to hit.”
But Ping’s Field says the beauty of clubfitting is every session is different. “Easy-fit clubs vary from player to player. In one case the fitter may achieve amazing results with irons and marginal gains with the driver. In other cases it may be the reverse. Each fitting is truly unique.”
Wedges Are The Most Overlooked Club In Fitting
“All short-game equipment is overlooked,” say Smith, whose company PnP specialises in short-game hardware. “Fifty per cent of the game is played from less than 100 metres in, yet very few actually get fitted
for these clubs. If you go to a fitting day at your local club most manufacturers have drivers, fairway woods, hybrids and a 6-iron to test but no wedges or putters. Yet these are the clubs that lower your score, and where a lot of people have the most trouble.”
It’s been said nine out of 10 golfers don’t use enough bounce with their wedges. (That’s the angle formed by the sole, the leading edge and the ground.) Titleist’s Porath also believes incorrect distance gapping between wedges is where a lot of amateurs come unstuck. “Wedge fitting is so important,” he says. “We like to start with your 9-iron and analyse how far that travels. From there we can set up lofts that provide very consistent and even gaps to your highest lofted wedge. Think of all the shots you play from this distance – you’ll want to hit partial shots, some from the rough, some from the bunkers. We explore which bounce and grind will help you achieve the short-game shots you want and that varies for every swing.”
Don’t Forget About Grips
The grip might be the last thing on your list when you go through a clubfitting but it can yield big benefits. “An incorrect grip size can result in undesirable movement during the swing, discomfort and can also have a negative impact on ball flight,” says Field.
Louey concurs: “Put simply, most amateurs use grips that are too small. As a result the majority of them grip the club too hard and overwork their hands. In comparison to other sports where you yield an object to collide with a ball – such as tennis, hockey and cricket – why are their grips all similar in thicknesses yet golf is
What’s the solution?
“We can either use larger or smaller grips or place the correct number of papers underneath the grip to thicken it,” says Meredith. “The correct grip size will help encourage better club delivery and face position at impact. The correct texture will also inspire confidence and can help with optimal grip pressure.”
Should I Get My Swing Fixed Before I Get Fit For Clubs?
Top clubfitters believe instruction is a vital component of the fitting process. “Club data can identify undesirable swing tendencies and in some cases it’s better for a golfer to see their PGA professional to establish more ideal club delivery prior to a fitting,” says Field. “We will often identify this and bring it to the player’s attention, where they can make an educated decision to proceed or work on their technique. In most cases we see people who have swung the same way for many years and have no desire to change their technique. If this is the case the fitter will do their best to optimise the fit with the golfer’s current technique.”
TaylorMade’s Lowe adds: “What we see in our performance lab is that most swing faults are caused by people swinging poorly or non-fitted equipment. I recommend going for a fitting regardless and finding out how good or bad your equipment is. You may be able to get your current clubs adjusted to get you by until you engrain the swing changes you are trying to make. From what we see, properly fitted clubs aid swing changes massively.”
As for the chicken-or-the-egg scenario, Louey is adamant it’s clubs first, swing second. “Otherwise you are trying to fix someone’s techniques based on incorrectly fitted golf clubs.”
“It’s a very good question,” adds Meredith. “Our advice would be that if you are having swing changes that are not going to have a major impact with getting a fitting then we suggest you proceed with a fitting.
“It is always best when going through swing changes to consult the instructor that is making the changes to your golf swing. He or she will best advise the correct time for you to get fitted based upon their lesson plan. If you are going through extensive changes with your instructor, it can assist to wait until you get to the right stage of the swing change.
“On the other hand, sometimes it can be the equipment that is not allowing you to advance with your technical change and this is why we suggest you consult your instructor.”
How To Avoid A Bad Clubfitting
The only thing worse than playing with clubs off the rack is playing with clubs that weren’t properly fit. Here are some warning signs you’re not getting a proper fitting:
1. The fitter doesn’t explain the process
You need to know why you were fit the way you were.
2. The fitter doesn’t ask about your game or clubs
How can you track improvement without a baseline measurement?
3. The fitter doesn’t use the latest tools
Launch monitors, video tracking and fitting systems have come a long way. Feel is important, but a technical analysis is critical.
4. The fitter has few choices
You need what’s best for your game, not what’s best for your fitter’s wallet.
Where To Get Fit
Visit ping.com/fitting to find your nearest Ping-authorised fitter
For more information about the Titleist Fitting Network and Titleist Clubfitting in general, visit
Visit callawaygolf.com.au to find your nearest Callaway-authorised fitter
TaylorMade Performance Labs
The Melbourne Golf Academy
385 Centre Dandenong Road,
Heatherton VIC 3202
Phone: (03) 9263 5283
40 The Circuit, Skygate,
Brisbane Airport QLD 4008
Phone: (03) 9263 5283
To experience the latest in wedge fitting, visit wedgeanalyzer.com.au
Visit cobragolf.com.au/dealer-locator to find your nearest Cobra-authorised fitter
Visit Drummondgolf.com.au to find your nearest mimatch-equipped fitting store
5 Kembla Street,
Fyshwick ACT 2609
(02) 6239 3462
• In the coming issues we will profile some of the country’s leading clubfitters to find out what their points of difference are.