The Fitting Equation: You May Not Always Need a New Set, But When You Do, Get Fit
Get fit. Get new clubs.
Or maybe not.
“I think that was the aha thing about the whole experience: that the clubs I have, some I didn’t think I could hit, I actually can play them, and play them well. I just need to play them more frequently. If you stop playing the clubs you don’t think you hit well, your chances of hitting them well decrease.”
So says avid, high-handicap golfer Terri Gallavan, capturing golf’s great Catch-22 following a recent fitting session at Club Champion in Palm Desert. (By way of disclosure, Terri is my wife. And don’t tell her I wrote this, but she’s more competitive than me on the course. Shhhh.)
After hitting through her decade-old mix of Cleveland and Cobra irons and transitional clubs — hybrids, fairway woods — and then testing various head and shaft combinations from an array of manufacturers, as is part and parcel of a fitting, she walked away with exactly what she carried in. In terms of launch, spin, ball flight, carry and overall distance, there was a near mirroring of results.
Most of us think of a club fitting as a path to new gear. And often, it is. Technology advances, our abilities move forward, or backward. We age. We exercise or we don’t. What worked a few years ago no longer works.
Unless, of course, it still does.
“I’ve been to golf school a few times, I understand some of the ‘whys’ of it all, but I’ve never been through this type of fitting experience where you have all this data right there in front of you, and with this immediate feedback,” Terri says. “The numbers showed my gaps were good on the clubs I have, that there’s 10 yards between each of them.”
For those who haven’t visited Club Champion or another fitting studio, sessions are held indoors, using state-of-the-art tracking monitors that pick up a slew of data points, all washed through a computer to give real-time, real-flight results. It’s cool, even if you’re not the wonky type.
ALWAYS A POSITIVE
Club Champion is obviously in the business of pairing players with clubs. But Bryon Smith, PGA of America and manager of the Palm Desert studio, says situations like Terri’s are not at all rare. He says they typically see it in higher-handicap, slowerswing players who can “get away with an equipment issue” more readily than a Tour pro who can wear a dime-sized spot in the face of a 3-iron.
When your fitting time comes, remember that butterflies go with golf, no matter how much we’ve played, and that can translate easily to the fitting bay. Previously fit and having played for more than 20 years, even if sporadically at times, Terri nonetheless had the jitters, and she says you will, too, and not to worry about it.
“I always get nervous when I have a new golf experience or play with people I don’t know,” she says. “I really like to golf with family and friends, and it is a little intimidating to perform in front of new people. But Bryon was friendly and welcoming. We sat down and talked, and he asked about my expectations and wanted to know about me. He was very open and friendly and made me feel comfortable. He made it easy for me to get up and do my thing. You hit into the screen, which is the ‘range,’ and all these numbers come up. He explained the key ones and then I started to track them myself. There is a lot of feedback.”
That’s the point of this whole exercise, to know where you are and where you might need to be, equipment-wise. New spec or long-loved, the idea is to know that you and your gear are simpatico.
“With our business model we aren’t going to oversell or upsell a customer,” Smith adds. “That builds a good rapport with the fitter. So that person goes away with the gamers, works with a coach, plays more, sees improvement and comes back to be refit, and it is an even better result then.”
“It is worth the investment,” Terri echoes, “because you are going to get something positive out of it. Even if you don’t need new clubs, perhaps something more important is affirming that you do have a decent swing, even if only at times, and you just need to work on repeating that more often. Sometimes you don’t hit your clubs well. That’s just golf.”
Sounds like I’ll be getting in more rounds with my favorite playing partner.