It’s finally March, and spring is showing some signs of life, even way up here in the north woods of Wisconsin. Golf is on television, the Masters is but a month away, and many of us are starting to think golf. For golfers up here, spring is kind of like starting over. Many of us make resolutions to play more, join a league, play in tournaments, or to improve upon last season. Many of us think that buying that new driver, or new putter will help us improve. Buying new equipment can help you to improve, but ONLY if you have it professionally fitted.
It’s no secret that golf is a hard game. Each year golfers turn to equipment as a magic tool for rapid improvement. Unfortunately, no matter how good the marketing, the equipment never seems to live up to the hype. Desperate golfers turn to the Golf Digest Hot List for guidance, and in turn walk into their local pro shop, big box store, or order the latest $500 driver off of the Internet. Most golfers fail to experience the most important part, being professionally fitted for the equipment.
Why should all golfers be professionally fitted? First, because no one golf swing is the same, but more importantly because fitting is the #1 fundamental for providing consistency throughout a set of clubs. Today, you can easily be fit for clubs on the same equipment the pros use. Launch monitors like Trackman and Flightscope provide invaluable data about how a golfer swings. Data like: club head speed, ball speed, launch angle, spin rate, and smash factor are crucial when spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on equipment. You need not understand these numbers as a consumer, but they need to be measured by the club fitter. It is these numbers that help to determine everything from club head type, shaft type and flex, loft, and even how the club is weighted.
A great club fitter juggles art and science. The way an accomplished golfer swings a golf club is an art form. The numbers that the launch monitor provides looks more like a physics exam. It is this balance that makes seeing a professional club fitter so important. A club fitting session based on my experience should look something like this:
- Record detailed specs on current clubs (length, loft, lie angle, shaft stiffness, swing weight)
- Record launch monitor data using current club. This establishes a baseline.
- Club fitter reviews shaft recommendations based on swing data.
- Club fitter “builds” the proposed clubs.
- Record complete launch monitor data using the new club/shaft configurations.
- Evaluate the data and compare results to golfer’s current club, and to other new club configurations. Based on data, club fitter recommends and tests additional configurations to define the best performing clubs.
- Club fitter evaluates all of the data captured and makes recommendations to provide a solution that fits their budget.
- Either new clubs are ordered, or old clubs have work done to them to allow them to properly fit the golfer.
Make no mistake, today; golf equipment is better than it has ever been. Golf companies continue to make strides and push the boundaries of what is legal in the sport all the way down to the golf ball itself. The technology itself however, will not add 20 extra yards to your drive, or allow you to sink every putt. Please, do not go out to the nearest store and simply buy the latest driver off the rack in hopes of adding 20 yards, or to one up your buddy. Please, instead, go see your local PGA Professional and have your equipment (new or old) properly fitted. Proper swing mechanics and technique will always be most important when it comes to playing great golf, but having equipment that fits YOUR golf swing will make the game far more enjoyable. It is the true secret when it comes to finding more distance, more fairways, more greens, and getting the most out of your golf equipment.
-Matthew Lindberg, PGA