The perception that only good players can benefit from a fitting isn’t correct. A new Golf Datatech study on fitting confirms everybody loves their game after a fitting.
The vast new study, the ninth that golf’s leading research firm has done on fitting since 2001, said that nearly eight in 10 respondents in its survey of serious golfers (16 or more rounds per year) across all ability levels have been fit for clubs, and 94 percent of those said they were at least “satisfied” with their most recent fitting, tying the all-time high set in 2021. The full report can be ordered from Golf Datatech.
The report states that an estimated 55 percent of all irons and drivers currently sold to serious golfers have been custom fit. Even 20-handicappers – finally, many would say – believe their next set of clubs will be a custom fit set because it’s just better.
“We’ve been doing this report every two or three years, and what we’ve seen is a lot like what people say about a DisneyWorld vacation,” said John Krzynowek, partner at Golf Datatech. “The costs have gone up, sure, but the satisfaction levels have gone up substantially.”
According to the report, barely half of serious golfers said they had been fit for clubs in 2001, the first year of the survey, and in the past decade, that number has gone from less than two-thirds to more than three-quarters of serious golfers. Today, the report indicates nearly as many golfers who were fit in the past year did so for drivers (66 percent) as a set of irons (68 percent). But those numbers dwarf the other equipment categories, all of which are less than 30 percent. That includes fairway woods (29 percent), wedges (21 percent), putters (19 percent) and balls (7 percent). In the past five years, among those lesser categories, only putter fittings have increased significantly.
Still, all those positive numbers don’t mean the perception that “I’m not good enough to get fit” isn’t still out there. Indeed, if close to a third of serious golfers aren’t getting fit, that means the numbers for all golfers are still lacking. And while the objection that “I’m not good enough to get fit” lingers, it’s coming up against common sense. The right clubs matter regardless of handicap, and maybe even more, said Jim McCleery, owner and chief fitter at McGolf Custom Clubs in Waverly, Ohio, a perennial Golf Digest 100 Best Clubfitter in America.
“How do you know it’s not the equipment that’s causing the inconsistency in your game?” McCleery said. “Now, I’ll admit the pros should be the most consistent of any golfer, but when you watch tournament coverage you can see any pro on any given day guide a ball into the trees, hit one short to the green or even miss a four-footer. A fitting is not based on one shot, it is an average of shots. A good fitter should be able to isolate the extraordinary shots, good or bad, to ensure you get the right spec for your new sticks.”
As for whether it’s your swing or your clubs holding you back, don’t separate the two, said Craig Zimmerman, general manager of RedTail Golf Center in Beaverton, Oregon, another perennial 100 Best Clubfitter selection.
“We believe strongly in the golf swing/club relationship,” he said of his facility which has 16 fitters on staff. “As a starting point, however, we feel strongly that the game is much easier to learn and improve when you have properly fit equipment that is right for you. As such, if a player has golf clubs that are properly fit, then lessons may be the best thing for her. If, however, a golfer does not have properly fit equipment, we believe he should get the right clubs first and then take lessons.”
Potential downsides with the rush towards fitting by more and more golfers? There are two, Krzynowek said. “Replacement cycles are stretching out longer now,” he said. “People who’ve been fit have less reason to want to replace their driver every two years. So the industry has to adjust to that. But on top of it, it seems like every fitter I talk to is working five days a week, 10-11 hours a day, and so when you try to book a fitting it might be three or four weeks.”
But as the Golf Datatech report states unequivocally, it’s a changed game. “Golf club fitting became the norm for most serious golfers when the reality of data driven swing analysis intersected with manufacturers and retailers recognising that golf clubs could perform in a superior manner when the primary components were fine tuned to perform optimally for the individual golfer… The club business hasn’t looked the same since.”