Custom-fitted golf clubs are becoming more a part of our golfing life.
Initially, custom-built golf clubs were seen more as the preserve of the professional golfer. Manufacturers would spend time with professionals honing their equipment to give them exactly what they were looking for. But with the advances in technology and golf growing in popularity, custom-made golf clubs are no longer exclusively for the best players in the world.
In this article, we’ll help you understand the following key topics:
- Custom-Fitted Golf Clubs - Understanding the Basics
- Advantages of Custom-Fitted Golf Clubs
- The Custom Fitting Process
- The Real Gains of Custom-Fitting: A Case Study
- Myth Busting: Common Misconceptions About Custom-Fitted Golf Clubs
Custom-Fitted Golf Clubs - Understanding the Basics
Every golfer comes in different shapes and sizes and has their own unique set of golfing skills. A player who has a scratch handicap will have a different set of requirements from their golf equipment compared to the golfer who has only been playing for a year and has a 36 handicap. Golf clubs purchased off the shelf don’t distinguish between the scratch player and the 36 handicappers
This is where custom-made golf clubs carry a crucial advantage. They allow any golfer to maximise their potential out on the course with equipment that provides optimal performance characteristics for their game.
Advantages of Custom-Fitted Golf Clubs
There are two obvious benefits attributed to custom fitting:
- Improved Accuracy
- Increased Distance
We tend to think of improved accuracy as fewer slices and hooks. But increased accuracy can also be attributed to discrepancies in length. This is a scenario where if we slightly mishit a shot how far short does it come up against a well-hit shot?
If there are big gaps in how far we hit a club from a good strike to a bad strike this can give us problems out on the course when faced with shots where we may need to carry trouble to reach the fairway or green.
Custom-fitting the driver can certainly add yards to your drives but this process can be replicated throughout the bag keeping distance gaping accurate for every club - there’s no point in gaining 20 yards with your 3 wood if you have a 35-yard gap next to the next club in your bag.
When we come down to our wedges being custom-fitted, we can have a better feel for more delicate shots either through better loft combinations or shaft and head finish options. Even with the putter, gaining better pace control through the right head and even shaft combination can lead to better performance on the greens.
One other major benefit can be the prevention of injury. Doesn’t seem obvious, but, for example, if your golf clubs are too short or not at the correct lie angle, you could end up putting undue strain on your back, leading to chronic issues.
The Custom-Fitting Process
If we decide that custom-fitted golf clubs will benefit our game what are the steps we can take?
The first thing is to find a professional club fitter. A key benefit to seeking out a professional fitter is that they will give you impartial advice on what’s best for your game. Most professional fitters will carry a range of options from several manufacturers so they can present some different options to you during the fitting process.
They can also give you some good additional insight into how your swing operates and how you deliver the ball at impact. To do this, they will have the latest launch monitor technology which provides instant feedback and offers up a wide variety of data sets to help pinpoint the problem areas.
A typical session will see a quick consultation with the golfer about what they want to achieve from the session. From there, it's time for the golfer to hit shots with their own clubs.
This serves several purposes:
- Allows the fitter to see the golfer’s swing
- Hitting the golfer’s own clubs gives a good benchmark to work with
- The fitter gets a good data set to work with
The data set is critical to the process because the fitter can start to get a clear understanding of things like:
- Spin rates generated
- Carry distance
- Shot dispersion - side to side
- Shot dispersion - front to back
- Smash factor
Seeing areas that can be improved, the fitter can then start to build sample clubs for the golfer to try and see what differences are made.
The process is honed by making small adjustments such as:
- Altering loft
- Altering shaft weight and flex
- Alter centre of gravity (for drivers and fairway woods)
With the evidence of improved figures, the fitter can focus on finalising the ideal build and recommendation to the golfer.
The Real Gains of Custom-Fitting: A Case Study
To put some context around how custom-fitting golf clubs can have a positive impact for a golfer there is nothing better than using a real-life example.
A golfer with a 26 handicap came in a few months ago and needed some help with their irons. The irons were a relatively new model, 4 iron to sand wedge, and arguably, were a good match for this type of golfer offering increased forgiveness and more distance.
Over the course of the fitting session what became apparent was that the golfer was struggling to get the ball airborne consistently due to the lower lofts which was where the added distance was meant to come from. To compensate, the golfer was swinging too hard in their attempt to get the ball airborne and also a lot of shots were lost to the right.
Within the data set, there was also a big discrepancy in the front-to-back dispersion. This was also a direct result of the irons having too little loft with the golfer occasionally hitting a shot that would go for miles but then couldn’t spin the ball enough with the next shot resulting in a much lower carry.
The golfer didn’t have any problems in generating club head speed but keeping club face control was an issue for two reasons. The shafts were too light - although steel, the shafts only weighed 85 grams. The low weight meant the golfer struggled to swing the club consistently which caused an erratic strike pattern.
The shafts were also found to be 1/4 inch longer than standard. This didn’t work for the golfer as they were not particularly tall. This also resulted in a struggle to maintain club face control throughout the swing.
The solution the golfer opted for was a new set of irons from a different manufacturer with a slightly different makeup of 5-iron to gap wedge. The new iron heads offered more spin by having a little more loft than the existing irons which helped get the ball airborne much more easily without losing any distance.
Slightly heavier shafts were fitted weighing 105 grams. The added shaft weight helped the golfer deliver the club head much more effectively and with the better spin levels across every iron, the front-to-back shot dispersion improved drastically.
An additional alteration was to have the irons cut to standard length which was a better fit for the golfer and also helped them make a centre strike more consistently.
Progress was swift and the golfer’s handicap fell from 26 to 19 within a matter of months. The golfer now had a set of irons that offered them more consistency and as a result, better confidence in their iron game which led to the swift reduction of their handicap.
Myth Busting: Common Misconceptions About Custom-Fitted Golf Clubs
The custom-fitting process is designed to focus on making improvements to a golfer’s equipment. A fitter is likely to ask the golfer at the outset if they are getting lessons and if so, what are they working on.
The fitter will also ask about the golfer’s bad shots and the evidence will show up in the data sets recorded. If the golfer is working on something specific, contingency can be built into any recommendation for ongoing improvements in the golfer’s swing mechanics.
There has been an argument in the past that custom-fitting is an expensive process and therefore a waste of money. But how many golfers turn up with the latest equipment in the hope of it improving their game only for it to be abandoned when the club or clubs haven’t performed to the golfer’s expectations?
“Off-the-shelf” golf clubs aren’t getting cheaper so how much is that particular golfer likely to spend in order to find the miracle clubs that will consistently deliver better performance? If we take a leaf out of the professionals’ book we see that each player’s clubs are built specifically for their game.
No two setups will be the same from player to player even if they are sponsored by the same manufacturer. It isn’t any different in the amateur game. We are all different with varying playing abilities and expectations from our games. That being the case, why do we think that buying clubs off the shelf which have a standard fit is going to be beneficial for our games?
In conclusion, custom-fitted golf clubs make a difference to every golfer regardless of their handicap. We have demonstrated in this article how custom-built golf clubs have helped players improve their handicaps and in turn get more enjoyment out of the game.
At Golf Tech UK, we have helped lots of golfers like the one in our case study. We can help any golfer of any ability unlock the potential of their golf game with custom-fitted golf clubs.
Get in contact with us to arrange a fitting session and see first-hand how we can help your game.