Fit as a Fiddle
Getting fitted for your next set of clubs? Where you get fitted may affect the process as well as the clubs and specs you get. You can visit a golf retailer, an independent clubfitter; a club manufacturer; or your local PGA professional. Ultimately, you need to decide which venue you’re most comfortable with. Each has merits and shortcomings. In any setting, your fitter will likely use a sophisticated launch monitor that provides every conceivable data number about your swing and ball flight, so you can be confident that the clubs you’re getting fitted for are appropriate and spec’d properly for your unique swing. But how do these various playing fields compare with one another? Glad you asked.
Variety is the real advantage to getting fitted at an independent facility. Club Champion, for example, has more than 35,000 clubhead-and-shaft combinations to try, and employs only skilled, unbiased fitters who don’t have an affinity for one brand over another. Their only interest is getting you into the best possible clubs for your game. They also use TrackMan launch monitors and build clubs in-house by hand to tight tolerances.
Another top-tier option is visiting the Carlsbad Golf Center where they offer the most extensive outdoor custom clubfitting capabilities in Southern California. You’ll be treated like a TOUR pro with state-of-the-art Foresight Sports Launch Monitors, delivering the most accurate ball performance data around.
OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers)
Some OEMs offer Average Joes the chance to get fitted at their Southern California facilities, just like pros. You may need to have your local PGA professional set up an appointment for you. And you really need to be committed to that brand before you go. Obviously, the fitter there knows that brand’s clubs and specs as well as anyone, assuring that you’ll get a fantastic fit. Cobra has its own clubfitting setup off-site at Encinitas Ranch GC, and it’s open to anyone who schedules a fitting session.
“We have an exact replica of our PGA TOUR van here, and give golfers a complete VIP experience,” says Mike Hearne, Cobra Golf’s manager of custom fitting and staff. “The fitting is strictly an outdoor experience. We like to see the full ball flight and use premium golf balls for accurate feedback.”
At Callaway’s Performance Center in Carlsbad, expert fitters measure club delivery and impact with great detail and accuracy. “Each fitter
has conducted thousands of fitting sessions, (mostly) with pros,” says Randy Peterson, Callaway’s director of golf product performance.
“They tweak club variables and retest until they’re confident you’re performing to your maximum ability. You leave with club and specification recommendations, a greater understanding of how your swing and the club influence ball flight, and confidence in your new equipment.”
TaylorMade’s “Kingdom” offers a similar experience for their brand, also in Carlsbad. And Titleist has a fitting center in Carlsbad too.
Local off-course shops and chains are great places to get unbiased fitting sessions using the latest launch
monitors and simulators. The larger the shop, the more brands it carries and thus the wider variety of products you can get fitted for. Roger Dunn Golf Shops, for example, offer a plethora of shaft and clubhead options at 14 Southern California locations. Likewise, PGA TOUR Superstore bills its “Fitting Van Experience” as the ultimate one-on-one fitting opportunity.
LOCAL PGA PROFESSIONAL
If you get fitted by your course’s PGA pro, he or she may know your swing and your game better than
anyone, and be able to help you quickly decide the proper clubs for your game. And even if you don’t know a pro, many courses will accommodate your fitting needs. The Grand GC at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego, for example, offers custom outdoor fitting.
“We try to base the experience on what you would get at the TaylorMade, Titleist or Callaway headquarters here in San Diego,” says Shawn Cox, PGA director of golf. “Our custom fitter is certified by each club brand that we offer. And we also offer club adjustments — players thinking they need new clubs don’t always need them. Sometimes a little tweak will make their current clubs feel and play like new.”
Weather can be penal if the fitting area isn’t covered. Extreme temperatures, wind and rain can all affect results … and how hard you swing.
And that may be the single-biggest advantage of getting fitted indoors, where weather variables don’t exist. Conditions are identical for every swing, giving you a more controlled experience. And indoor simulator and launch-monitor technology have gotten so good that fitters are adamant it’s pinpoint accurate.
Many reputable indoor fitting centers use top-of-the-line computer projection
systems that make you feel as if you’re hitting outdoors. You can easily see your ball flight immediately after hitting — with your numbers flashing up in front of you — without stepping off the tee. Plus you can use the ball you typically play, which is a huge plus.
“Fitting indoors at all 16 of our Southern California locations gives us a controlled laboratory, so to speak, to learn what the ball is truly doing,” says Joe Assell, CEO of GOLFTEC. “Plus, we go out of our way to make clients feel completely at ease in the environment. And our fitters use proprietary clubfitting software, to ensure all players receive the most optimized clubs for their games.”
Should you get fitted outside or inside? The positives of outdoor fittings are that you can see live ball flight. Plus, your fitter can better see where you aim. It’s all real, not simulated. Because you see the full flight, you may subconsciously alter your swing or setup position to stop a fade or hook. That’s a welcome thing, claim fitters.
“Watching how elements affect the ball helps validate why specific club specifications are recommended,” says Callaway’s Peterson. “If you’re testing drivers into the wind and producing too much backspin, the ball balloons during flight. Indoors you may understand this phenomenon is happening, but it’s much easier to grasp the potential magnitude when seeing the actual flight.”
You’ll also hit off real turf outdoors, which Peterson avers is advantageous: “How do you gauge the turf interaction between various wedge sole options off synthetic turf where the lie is the same every shot and no divot is being taken?”
At Carlsbad Golf Center, PGA Pro Susan Roll runs one of Southern California’s busiest clubfitting centers. Roll prefers clubfitting outdoors because “you see the complete ball flight and hear the ball coming off the club better. Ball flight is extremely important in determining proper club fit. Many times it appears you’ve hit a ball straight, only to see it hook or fade just before landing — that’s invaluable feedback you only get outdoors on a range. It’s the most realistic experience, plus it incorporates launch monitor data for validation.”
No path towards picking your clubfitting experience is perfect. But getting fitted is definitely the right way to go.