Golf Club Fitting Organizations: Sowing Seeds of Unsound Clubfitting
Besides club fitting services for golfers offered by independent operators, ranging from individuals to major club manufacturers, organizations exist that have been founded specifically to help teach and promote golf-related occupations, including the custom clubfitting trade. From these bodies, one might obtain a certification to be a “professional clubfitter.” The expertise of virtually all golf clubfitting entities is predominantly and unfortunately based on the relatively recent (twenty to thirty-year-old) teachings and convictions of a scant few, including Ralph Maltby and Tom Wishon, whose concepts I surveyed last time. One such organization is the Professional Clubmakers’ Society (PCS). Like Maltby and Wishon, the PCS engages in multiple golf-specific endeavors, and this evaluation is solely of their clubfitting exploits.
After becoming quite fatigued at observing so many clubfitting experts fail to explain some really manageable facts to the golfing world, and after several attempts to contact the PCS and receiving no response about a year ago, I finally convinced that group’s director at the time to read my paper on how golf club swingweighting truly works. I assumed I would be adding perhaps a few of the finer details about a parameter that was already fundamentally comprehended by their staff, given that the specification is now more than seventy-five years old. After accepting my work but hearing nothing from them, I eventually coaxed a reply out of the PCS concerning the document. They wrote back to me saying they were “trying” to apprehend the concept, after which they tried to convince me to attend a future expo of theirs so I could further my education in clubfitting. I have not heard from them since. I feel no assurance when reading this society’s published mission statement.
My brief interaction with the PCS is consistent with the way members of such organizations often come across when witnessing golf advice forums online. I cannot tell you how many times I have read something from a poster and told myself, “Now here is a beginner whom I would really like to help,” only to scroll down to the end of the post and see that he already has a “Certified Clubfitter” accreditation from the PCS or similar entity. Based on information contained in their website, it appears that one can have little experience and talent at golf during most of his life, develop a genuine interest in the game as he approaches retirement, and in short order obtain his PCS certification. (I have encountered individuals in similar circumstances who actually tout themselves as being qualified golf teachers, not just students). Now learning about golf club repair and assembly under these conditions is one thing. But having a deep enough knowledge about a golf swing, golf clubs, and how the two interlace with each other in terms of competent clubfitting to help people play their best golf is something else altogether. I am not saying that such a program might not be successfully implemented at some point in the future, but this goal is nowhere close to being achieved thus far. I often think less of those who hold such clubfitting certifications because of the misconstrued methods I see they are being taught and the circumstances under which the credentials can be gotten. Securing these so-called diplomas usually includes answering open-book questions from the same Maltby and Wishon materials I dissected in my preceding post.
The unsuitable curriculums offered and endorsed by fitting groups infiltrate through their “professional clubfitters” to those with even less experience, who often further distort what are some pretty poor concepts to begin with. This epidemic may pervade proprietors of component companies or golf club manufacturer clubfitters/salespeople, who too often fancy themselves to be skillful at clubfitting in the course of selling their wares. The “help” handed out by such individuals or companies sometimes takes golf clubfitting back fifty years, and may include conveniently “adapted” and prolific statements such as “No one can tell the difference between one swingweight point.” This is one of the most misleading statements made in the golf club fitting world, especially disgusting when used to help make a sale on a product or service. As one’s clubfitting education is an extension of and most naturally occurs after thoroughly learning and becoming increasingly confident with his or her golf swing, it is not totally out of the question to wonder if a knowledgeable clubfitter should be able to show they are capable of playing better than a PGA member (with adjustments for age and other variables) before being crowned as certified. I shiver when thinking of the playing and/or clubfitting skills of some who possess a “Professional Clubfitter” certificate. Many are such novices just before and during their training that they would be totally unaware if they were being fed ineffectual information, plus it is often less-experienced people who see the need to obtain such certification in the first place in order to seem more authoritative at the craft. You may not know it, but different level clubfitting credentials from the PCS can be earned in mere months to just days. Even if you are a relative beginner, you might already have more relevant skills at clubfitting than some “professional clubfitters.”
The scariest part is if you are looking for an organization through which to learn the clubfitting trade or to find out who might already be qualified to fit your clubs to you, the PCS might be the best that golf has to offer right now. I exhaustively attempted to make contacts the first time around with multiple organizations including the PGA, different golf teaching associations, several magazines, and others that attempt to promote and/or teach golf club fitting. Only the PCS responded to an appreciable degree, which may say something. So because I have had zero interaction with anybody else, I cannot make an assessment of how the PCS compares to other entities engaged in similar activities.