If you’re about to stow your bag for the winter months, getting fit for a new set of clubs is probably the last thing on your mind. “I’ll do that in the Spring, when I have the whole season ahead of me” you might be thinking. Wrong! Now can be a great time to get fit. Here’s why.

Your swing is nicely grooved from the season, and your body is likely in its best “golf shape” to withstand a rigorous clubfitting session. Plus, there’s still a few weeks left to get used to any new clubs before your season winds down. The people who change clubs only when they’re fed up or playing poorly are doing themselves a disservice.

That said, even if your swing isn’t in top form, you’d be surprised how little it varies, regardless of where your shots may be going. Chris Marchini, director of golf experience for Golf Galaxy, recalls a story from several years ago when Mizuno created a fitting tool called the Shaft Optimizer that helps golfers find the right shaft in just a few swings.

“We were the first facility in the world to test the Shaft Optimizer, in Pittsburgh, and we got it in February,” Marchini says. “No one’s playing golf in Pittsburgh at that time, and I put a bunch of players through it. All of them said, ‘My swing’s not grooved. I’ll come back and do it in April.’ A bunch came back and guess what happened? Nothing in their swings changed.”

How did Marchini test them? First and foremost, by using a launch monitor, which should be a part of every fitting. These devices provide golfers with, among other data, information on ball speed, launch angle, backspin and side spin. But you need some professional help to know how to get the most out of this important device. Here’s a little Launch Monitor 101 for you.


Christian Petersen

Although “high launch and low spin,” is a popular mantra these days, it is not for everyone. In fact, since almost all everyday golfers swing slower than PGA Tour players, you actually might need more spin to help keep the ball in the air and maximize carry distance, especially with the driver.

Another warning to consider: the temptation to be fit to your best shots. When you catch one on the screws, the numbers on the monitor might dazzle you, but be realistic. Hit plenty of shots that are representative of your average game, using several different loft and shaft combinations (if available) and see what brings the best results. Oh, and if you’re getting fit using range balls, ask the fitter if there’s an opportunity to test using the actual ball you play with. If you’re hitting in an indoor bay, that shouldn’t be an issue.

Finally, don’t think you’re not good enough to get fit for clubs. “I wish that higher handicappers understood the importance of fitting, because they’re the ones who need it the most,” Marchini says. “And believe it or not, they’re just as easy to fit, because everyone’s got a swing DNA.”

Launch monitors are incredibly cool toys, and many golfers love seeing all the numbers. However, the best way to get the most out of them is to have someone who is well-versed in the data interpret the information for you. Do that, and you’ll be ready for next season a few months early.

This article was originally published on golfdigest.com