More on Custom Fitting - The FIVE Basics
It’s been a long time since we had a topic that got so much dialog, not even counting the miscommunication we had there at the start. But with that behind us, I thought I’d dive into the whole notion of custom fitting, since you guys apparently still have lots of questions and interest in the topic.

Getting fit for clubs is kind of like going to the doctor. First, you have to determine if you feel bad enough to go at all. Then you share your story and listen to what the doctor has to say. If it’s not too serious, you just take the prescription and do what he says. But if you get a diagnosis that is “out there”, it’s generally a good idea to seek a second opinion, just to be sure. Getting fit for golf clubs is a lot like that. If the fitter suggests just a few minor tweaks to length, lie and/or grip size to get you where you want to be, go with it. But if he suggests a dramatic alteration from what you are playing, it might not be a bad idea to get a second opinion.

Realize that the fitter is only working with that particular “diagnosis”. So, if you are swinging a little differently that day than normal, it stands to reason that you might get a prescription that isn’t quite right. And realize too, that there are numerous theories of fitting -- it’s as much an art as a science, no matter how impressive the array of equipment that is laid out in front of you.

That all said, here are what I consider to be the FIVE basic elements of a good fitting, whether it be a driver, irons, wedges, putter or fairway woods/hybrids. I’m going to touch on the basics here and then cover them in more detail in the weeks ahead, as this is a very broad subject. But, today, here are the five elements of fitting that have to be in place to get you the clubs that will perform best for you . . . for now:
1. Clubhead design. Generally, we’re talking categorically here. All iron designs will fall into one of three categories – blade, game improvement, or “super game improvement”. Wedges are much narrower, for a good reason, and drivers, fairway woods and hybrids are somewhere in between. Putters head styles are nearly endless. Your questions are:
a. What shot pattern am I most trying to eliminate?

b. What shot qualities am I most seeking?

c. What looks good to me?
2. Shaft Type. There are hundreds of shafts on the market today, ranging from low priced basic steel to exotic graphite priced in the hundreds of dollars. I think those two extremes are unnecessary for most golfers, but in between there are core categories you are safe choosing between:
a. Conventional weight steel. Dynamic Gold, Rifle, KBS, Apollo . . . there are some good ones here. Pretty much limited to irons and wedges, of course.

b. Lightweight steel. Some good ones here, too, if you are looking for a little lighter club overall to try to gain a little distance in your irons.

c. Graphite. Pretty much standard in woods and drivers. I’m a huge fan for irons and wedges as well, but only if you choose premium graphite and have a good specialty clubmaker/fitter build them for you. I just haven’t seen the consistency out of the major factories that I want in my clubs. There is a wide range of weights, and getting too light is, I think, detrimental to most golfers. I’ll write about that soon.

d. Flex profile. Whether steel or graphite, you can opt for low or high-launch shaft profiles. Getting the right one is a big part of fitting.
3. Set Make-Up. This is a big part of a good fitting in my opinion. You can do a lot for your game by mixing up how your set is laid out. Short hitters can use more fairway woods and hybrids to score better, and wider loft differences between clubs to allow more scoring options. Long hitters should have tighter loft differences in their shorter clubs to give better precision.

4. Specifications. We’re back to the length/lie discussion here. There is a lot to be said, and a lot of theories here. My key advice is to not stray too far from what you are used to in the first jump. If the fitter wants to build you a set of irons, for example, that are 1” longer and 2* more upright than you have been playing, have him add the inch but leave the lie alone to start. From the start, play them gripped down by ½” to allow a minor adjustment. You can tweak lie angles as you get experience with them. In other words, sneak up on it!!

5. Refinement. Before you agree to have any custom-fitted clubs made or ordered for you, find out how the fitter stands behind the clubs and how much he’ll work with you if it’s not quite right. You are making an investment . . . not in clubs . . . but to seek better golf. If they don’t deliver that, you need to have a fitter that will work with you to get them where they will. If he can’t or won’t, find another fitter.
So, there are five topics for me to dive into in more detail in the weeks ahead. You guys let me know where you want me to start, OK? This should be fun and enlightening for all. I’d like to hear horror stories, puzzling experiences and great successes out of your fitting trials and tribulations, so send them in or share them here.

See you Tuesday.

photo source
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[ comments ]
bplewis24 says:
Wedge Guy, I am unequivocally most interested in #1: club head design. I am interested in going back to blades at some point, once I get my swing back in order (I am a relatively high handicapper for somebody who wants to use blades, mostly because I took about 10 years away from golf). I do not like the irons I am currently using, and have been looking at some of the Mizuno and Titleist line of blades. I'm curious to know what the benefits and drawbacks would be to that, and your general input on club head design would help a lot I think.
aaronm04 says:
I had a great experience getting my custom fit irons. The fitter was the club pro where I play and the fitting was like a mini-lesson. Quite enjoyable especially when it's someone you already know and trust.

One thing I've noticed about irons .. most of the super/regular game improvement/cavity back irons have lower lofts than the players/muscle back irons. The GI/CB irons have PWs with about 45* loft. Many MB/P have PWs closer to a true PW (48*)
jeremyheslop says:
As always Terry very timely post! Good info that will help me choose the correct clubs. Still playing the Target specials from Father's Day last year. I need an upgrade.
Matt F says:
Another thing to look at is finding a fitter that will work with what you've brought, not try to change your swing to fit their clubs.

newrider says:
I have built my own clubs for years. After the occasional trip to my local fitter to get my new numbers (we don't get any younger do we?) I build a set to suit my swing, strength and skill. It doesn't necessarily follow conventional wisdom. I play blades in my 7-9 and true wedges 48-60. I love my 3-6 hybrids. Very small heads with no offset. I prefer lighter shafts with a lower kick point in my wedges than irons because it feels best for me. My fitter gives me a ribbing but I play to a 10 hdcp and he has a 20+. My putter is truely customized for me. A mid heel shaft mallet,standard length 34", very upright at 76* with 150 gram weight in the grip end.
TeT says:
JeremyH, this is the year to upgrade. Everybody came out with something new this year and last years techno is still relevant and cheap by comparison.
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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