Custom Golf Clubs? Yes, But Not Today: Part Three
Most people within the independent custom clubfitting business are quick to blame their lack of notoriety and insufficient numbers of customers on the big advertising budgets that some brand name golf club manufacturers have. These clubfitters declare that most golfers are too easily persuaded by fancy promotions that hype the latest gimmicks. Well I suppose none of us are entirely immune from advertising, particularly when we feel that claims of improvement are backed up by behind the scenes research. Clubfitting talk, however, also asserts that most players are not even aware of the existence and importance of being properly fitted for golf clubs. This, and many other contentions made by so many custom clubbers are for the most part rubbish. Anyone that has just walked around with poor fitting footwear at one time or another is at least fundamentally aware of proper “equipment” fitting toward improved performance. Truth be told, the custom club faction within the golf industry pitches plenty of its own hype and salesmanship, often worse than the big budget companies. A couple of vague examples are that the number of “important” golf club specifications to be considered (a figure that might surpass twenty-five soon if it has not been done already) and the amount of time needed to properly customize golf clubs, seem to increase on an annual basis in an attempt to one-upmanship one’s competition for business. Also spread are innuendos that the finest clubfitters must and do have specifically recommended analysis devices available in order to fit a golfer well. A great clubfitter, with virtually no extraneous devices at his or her disposal, can still help fit golf clubs superiorly to those with every clubfitting device imaginable but lacking good foundational knowledge and experience with respect to how to fit golf clubs to players.
I allude now to all engaged in the business of clubfitting, including “systems” put out by major golf club companies, and not just independent operators. Excellent clubfitters, like superb players and outstanding teachers of golf club swinging and other aspects of playing the game, truly do exist, but they are much rarer than you are imagining now. In evaluating “representative” individuals or clubfitting organizations, consider yourself extremely fortunate if your “professional clubfitter” (and/or the source[s] from which one may try to learn the craft) thoroughly understand the most critical three or four fitting concepts well enough to equip you with at least one golf club that is better for your game than off-the-rack club design and manufacturing. The lack of sorely needed clubfitting wisdom in the golf industry extends frightfully wide and deep. Be fully aware of this if deciding to have someone else attempt to fit your golf clubs to you. The not-so-difficult conclusion is that when custom club fitters can routinely and consistently send golfers out their doors playing as good as they could based on clubfitting competence, then this elemental part of the golfing world, quite essential for golfers to achieve their maximum success, will assume its rightful position in the golf industry, big advertising budgets notwithstanding. Not before, however, and apparently not soon based on the evidence given and the methods I continue to see sanctioned these days.
A profound link exists between the widespread insufficiency in golf club fitting skills and the widespread, chronic notion of how difficult it is to learn and perform a golf swing. Certain fitting theories and practices have been so bad, for so long, that when applied a golf swing seems more difficult than it really is. While poor equipment fitting in golf is hardly to blame for 100% of a noteworthy, general lack of improvement in golfers and more decisions in recent times to abandon the game, it is a considerable part of the troubles golf is experiencing right now. Think about that for a while. Now that you have seen a bit of what current golf club fitting technique is like, perhaps you would like to see what it should be like. Starting with my next post I will step back to the beginning of golf club fitting and decisively proceed to reveal what is currently wrong with its “approach” and how to begin correcting it. Stay tuned.