Golf is a sport that is all about precision, technique, and fine margins and depending on your skill level even the smallest adjustments can have a big impact.
As it is with any sport that requires equipment to play, making sure you have the correct equipment for your own game is essential.
Custom Golf Club Fitting is a way to measure a player and their swing characteristics to help them choose the correct equipment for their game. It’s important to have a repeatable swing prior to having a custom fit or the benefits will not be as great.
Coupled with Lessons, custom fitting can help a player get access to more of their golfing potential, but it’s not something that every golfer looks in to.
There are different ways that golfers fit their clubs.
Some prefer trying different types of clubs from different sets to find what feels best, which can be very time consuming and take a lot of energy.
In contrast, others get clubs made according to specific measurements and requirements.
Modern Golf Club Fitting
Modern technology has enhanced the speed and capabilities of club fitting in significant ways.
Instead of the countless hours of trying different clubs to find a specific trajectory and overall feel, there are ways to measure and calculate the size and style club for a player’s needs and to find the range of consistency required in a set of clubs.
Golf technology now has sophisticated launch monitors that track the flight, speed, and trajectory of the ball while it is in the air. This enables fitters to match the right clubs for each player.
All the club’s measurements and unique aspects are fitted to the player and are matched to the rest of the clubs in the set.
This provides a set of personalized golf clubs that have been built to specs that are consistent with each other as well as to the player’s style and measurements.
More and more players are realizing the effect fitting can have on creating a uniform, consistent, and predictable distance gap between clubs in a set.
All shafts are accurately matched to the players swing and speed and this helps improve dispersion, which is how far offline a players shots are in general. It helps make the misses…better.
This helps give golfers more confidence and in some cases a better understanding of their clubs. It usually results in more consistent results on the course, until the swing characteristics change and then the process usually starts again.
Off-the-shelf clubs might work for a once-off golfing experience, but for a player with any longer-term golfing ambitions, fitted clubs are becoming the norm.
Different skill levels of golf will require different aspects of the fitting. Certain aspects are not as crucial in the beginner stages as they are in the more advanced stages of playing golf. Let’s take a look at fitting at various stages of club fitting options in a typical golfers journey.
Fitting For Beginners
If you are a beginner golfer, and are still building and finding your golf swing, I’d recommend having a few lessons to help your game before you invest a lot of money in a driver that potentially won’t be right for you once you have improved.
When starting to learn to play golf, a beginner’s motions are not consistent, but they do often have a baseline action that fitters can work with.
Club fittings will usually involve some of the following:
- Length Of Club
- Lie Angle
- Kick Point
Choosing The Correct Length Of Golf Club
Having the correct length of swing for your physical size is important and it helps with developing a repeatable swing by putting the player in an athletic posture based on their physical measurements.
A very tall player will stoop too much with a standard-length club, while a very short player will stand too upright.
Proper shaft length can significantly influence the direction, consistency and distance of a golf shot by forcing the player into an address position that can be maintained throughout the golf swing.
This is determined by the golfer standing tall,with their arms out straight by their side, and then measuring the distance between the wrist and the floor.
Choosing The Correct Lie Angle For Your Golf Clubs
Lie angle is the angle between the shaft of the club and the ground when the club arrives at impact parallel to the ground.
The lie angle is known as upright when the toe of the club is lifted too high above the ground. This will cause the heel to strike the turf first, which closes the club-face and will result in the ball going left.
The opposite is known as flat, this is where the club has the heel raised too high which then causes the toe to dig into the ground. This will then open the club-face which results in the ball going right.
The correct lie angle is not actually how the club-head sits at address but its how the club interacts with the ground at impact.
Club fitters use impact tape on the bottom of your club to assess where your impact is and they can the adjust the lie angle accordingly.
Although there are maximum adjustments that can be made in any one direction, these vary per manufacturer or fitter, but it’s typically 2-3 degrees. So if you need something more it would be worth having lessons to help fix your swing.
Getting the correct lie angle when you are fitted for new clubs is important but is also worth having them checked every now and again as the lie angle can change over time, remember your hitting the club into the ground at speed each time you hit a shot.
Choosing The Right Loft For Your Game
Choosing the correct loft in a driver is vital in order to produce a proper launch angle. Launch angle is the angle at which the ball leaves the clubface at impact.
The launch angle is critical to maximizing distance. The optimal launch angle depends on the player’s clubhead speed and ball velocity. and available lofts are usually between 8 and 15 degrees.
Typically, players with a slower swing speed will benefit from a higher lofted driver which will help get the ball in air more easily, resulting in a higher trajectory, longer carry, and more distance.
When you’re first starting out I would recommend having a lot of loft on your driver, 10.5-12 degrees, as this will help reduce any side spin and help you get the ball into the air, compared to harder to hit lower lofted drivers.
With newer iron sets, the golf manufacturers have de-lofted irons to convince the less educated golfer that they are hitting the ball further.
The reality is they have simply put a higher number on the bottom of the club than the loft suggests. Most 7-irons these days are the loft of what a 6-iron was about five years ago and a 5-iron from around ten years ago.
Choosing The Right Shaft Flex For Your Game
To maximize distance output and consistency, beginners must have the correct shaft weight and flex.
“Flex” refers to the ability of a golf shaft to bend as forces are applied to it during the golf swing. These forces are generated by the type of swing that you have – fast or slow, smooth or jerky.
How much or how little a club’s shaft flexes plays a major role in how and when the club face is squared at impact. It is important to have the proper flex for your swing speed.
Without it, there’s a good chance that you’ll have a hard time making good solid contact on a consistent basis, thereby affecting both the direction and distance of the golf shot.
There are five generally used ratings for shaft flex: Extra Stiff, Stiff, Regular, Senior and Ladies
The following are typical of what you would expect to use with a different swing speeds:
- Swing speed of 110 mph or more should use an extra-stiff flex shaft
- Swing speed between 100-110 mph should use a Stiff flex
- Swing Speed between 85-100 mph should use a regular flex
- Swing speeds lower than 85 mph should use A Flex (also known as Senior Flex)
Choosing the Correct Spin Rate For You
Besides launch angle, another crucial variable that needs to be managed is spin-rate. Spin-rate is defined as the rate at which the speed of a golf ball spins on an axis while in flight and is measured in revolutions per minute (rpm).
This spin, in combination with a golf balls dimples, is what causes a golf ball to stay aloft.
Players that generate high initial ball speed need to combine a higher launch angle with a lower spin-rate, while players that produce lower initial ball speeds need to combine a higher launch angle with a higher spin-rate, which keeps the ball in the air longer to produce greater carry and distance.
The optimal spin-rate varies depending on a player’s ball speed and swing speed. This is typically between 2500 to 3300 rpm, although there are exceptions.
Choosing the Correct Grip Size For You
This is often overlooked but selecting the correct grip size is important. This is usually based on the size of the players hands and fingers.
The easiest way to determine the best place to start with grip size is by measuring your hands, this measurement is from the crease of your wrist to the tip of your middle finger.
Other Considerations For The Average Golfer
Most average golfers have not given much thought to getting their clubs fitted.
Many average golfers get frustrated with the slow rate of improvement in their skills and do not give themselves a fair chance by getting the necessary fitting to help them get to the next level.
These are the added aspects of fitting that average golfers should consider:
Once the player starts learning how to play and outgrowing their initial fitting, the player will want to adjust their fittings for a more personalized one.
This will give the necessary adjustments to start increasing their skill level and consistency with their clubs.
Head Design Bias
Once the player has more playing experience, they will develop preferences for specific designs or styles of clubs and heads.
These preferences start to define the likes and dislikes of the player that help shape the type of fittings to explore.
How The Club Feels And Sounds when Making A Shot
Another aspect of defining which clubs a player enjoys more will be the feel and acoustics of different clubs.
This will add to the selection process that begins to make up the right set of clubs for the player.
Attention To Shaft Details (Flex & Kickpoint)
Analyzing the player’s overall ball-flight and shot patterns help determine whether to fit them into heavier, lighter, stiffer, or softer shafts.
This is easier at this point because the player will have developed their tendencies and not just a baseline action.
Shaft Kick Point, also known as flex point or bend point, is the location on the shaft that bends the most during a swing. A higher kick point, which means the bend point is higher in the shaft, closer to the grip, can help lower trajectory, while a lower kick point, which is closer to where the head and shaft are connected can help increase the trajectory of a golf shot.
Players with slower clubhead speeds typically benefit from a lower kick point, which helps to get the ball in the air more easily, resulting in a higher trajectory, longer carry, and greater distance.
Players with higher clubhead speeds typically benefit most from shafts with a higher kick point, which promotes a lower launch angle for a lower, more controllable trajectory.
The difference in high and low kick points is generally only about 2 inches. Try to get shafts that have a kick point somewhere in the mid range, unless you really need to try and affect the trajectory of your shots.
Most fitters will have a good idea based on your fitting aspects as to what clubs should be in your set; however, most average golfers will have their idea by this point as to what they prefer.
The fitting process helps a player understand their tendencies and needs better which helps them make better club selections for their set.
When Is Golf Club Fitting Not Important
Often people enter fundraising events or social events like golf days with no intentions of taking up golf as a serious sport or pursuing it further.
Golf club fitting would not be of any benefit to someone who is playing once-off or even a few times a year. For fitting to be worthwhile, it should be to help enhance and enable a player’s growth and technique who are working towards a more advanced golfing experience.
The extra costs required to pay a fitter and purchase the fitted clubs will not be worth it for a player who is not committing to regular practice and playing time.
A Word Of Caution About Custom Golf Club Fitting
If you were to visit several different club fitters, you may find you have several different recommendations for what you need.
This could be down to the experience of the fitter, the equipment they have at their disposal, their understanding of club fitting, and many other things but the most likely reason for the differences is you.
Remember you are being fitted for the golf swing that you have on the day.
Which, as I said before, if you are a beginner golfer, and are still building and finding your golf swing, the characteristics of your swing are going to change, probably in a short space of time.
If I was going to drop $100’s on new clubs I would definitely have a custom fit by an independent club fitter or Golf Pro.
With that kind of money I would want to make sure I am gaining the maximum out of the clubs and matching it closely with my golf ability. There’s no point having the wrong shaft or the wrong spin numbers.
Let the experts guide you, but be mindful of a couple of things.
Golf Pro’s in some retail outlets have a reputation for selling clubs, and not always for selling the right clubs. Think sales targets and making money!
The other reason is a bit harder to assess.
Not all manufacturers will custom build the club to the exact custom fit specs you have produced, so you don’t always get what you pay for. Do some research on the build part of the process. Get them to double check the specs when you pick up the club.
Golf club fitting is becoming an integral part of the sport at all levels of the game. Even from beginner level, coaches are partnering with club-fitters to develop the correct equipment and lesson strategies for students based on their beginner motions and early tendencies.
Golf Club Fitters are now available to every player, from the early stages of learning to play to the advanced professional levels, where even the smallest adjustments are helping professional golfers bring more consistency and growth to their game.
Club fitting helps get the player into a set of clubs that work for their body type and beginner skill level which provides a solid platform to begin lessons and practice improving their skills.
Some players listen to the manufacturers marketing campaigns that often claim to have the longest clubs or the most forgiving, or both.
It’s good practice to try and test the clubs for yourself, on the course where possible, and not get caught up in some of the marketing BS and hype.
Overall there are fewer reasons not to get fitted, other than for casual golfers, as it’s proven to be a valuable and important part of the modern game!
DO YOU WANT TO BECOME MORE CONSISTENT
The core focus on the coaching is to help you build a classic and repeatable golf swing, which is suitable for both right-handed golfers and left-handed golfers.