Custom Golf Club Fitting Considerations: Part One

When I previously addressed this topic, it was written from the perspective of how poor the golf clubfitting trade generally is.  In summary, I stated that custom clubfitting is an extremely important part of playing golf consistently well (the second most important part after swinging well) that can benefit every golfer by paying attention to the details of the equipment one uses and applying such details to one’s swing performance and golf ball travel, but that the clubfitting industry should generally be avoided at this point in time.  Several specific reasons for why this should be were given that mainly centered around multiple clubfitting theories developed by and practices routinely used by people in the trade that can be more prone to diminishing your base golf swing talent rather than accentuating it and raising your average golf score instead of lowering it.  This applies without prejudice across the clubfitting trade, from the fitting programs of the major club manufacturers to those affiliated with any number of so-called independent organizations that purport to teach and certify clubfitters in the science/art of golf club fitting correctly.  Nothing has perceptibly changed in this respect since I previously addressed this issue.  I will back up these statements with considerable proof in upcoming posts.

This time I will look at the topic from a different viewpoint.  I will humor the clubfitting industry for a moment and pretend that this trade is capable of fitting golf clubs well to you on a consistent basis or that you are capable of fitting yourself.  (This is not difficult to accomplish once you have the proper knowledge and just some basic equipment, and “glamorous” and often expensive devices such as launch monitors are not necessary in order to fit a golf club superbly to yourself.  In fact, such devices when in the hands of people who do not correctly understand primary clubfitting principles to begin with can substantially hurt the clubfitting process and its outcome more than help).  With superb clubfitting theoretically available, the question now becomes whether it may or may not be in your best interest to commence the process of golf club fitting for yourself at any given point in time.  Here are a few potential issues for you to consider.

To start, for those of you who decide to get into clubfitting as a means to try and further improve your golf game (regardless of how much work and effort you have first put into the most important part of your game [your swing]) and you think that clubfitting is the “easier” of these two tasks for accomplishing game improvement (and there are plenty of you), you may as well learn right here how badly mistaken you are.  When approached and implemented well, golf club fitting can be an extremely labor-intensive process (both physically and psychologically) that far exceeds the effort required to learn and practice an effective golf swing.  Physically, I have incurred far more blisters, fatigue, and even to some extent annoying injuries in the course of learning and executing clubfitting tasks through the years than I ever did when I was learning and practicing my golf swing itself.  And psychologically, clubfitting is a subject that requires a degree of knowledge above and beyond what is principally a physical repetitiveness required in order to develop an efficient golf swing.  This knowledge can come through personal experience and/or book learning.  Unfortunately, written information to date with respect to clubfitting contains a great deal of downright wrong and sometimes embarrassing information that has sent the clubfitting trade backward in both performance and respect, especially in recent decades.

In my more than thirty years as a golf professional, it essentially took me about the first ten of those years to (further) develop my golf swing and develop a real confidence in my swing to the point where I positively knew that certain unacceptable swings and/or ball travel results were not due to my swinging ability but rather my equipment.  Of course I thought I already had a very well developed swing and a lot of confidence in that swing from the first day I technically turned professional, but in the end that was obviously just not the case.  I will speculate that if not for the substantial baseball playing experience I already had and a certain level of developed confidence in my ability as a result, this ten year period might have been even longer, as the confidence aspect especially (at the high level I am referring to) does not (and plausibly should not) come easily and/or quickly.

And then it took me about the next twenty years (I am actually still far from being done) to really secure a relevant understanding of the basics and finer details of clubfitting and to become sufficiently confident in that also (especially when everybody else was saying something different).  Due to what I noted above, I can state with authority that a large portion of those twenty years were spent believing in (due to my own inexperience and insufficient confidence at that time) many of the golf club fitting theories and practices that are so incorrect and that still permeate the industry to this day.  Had that information been more correct then, my learning curve regarding golf club fitting the way it should be performed might have been a mere fraction of what it was.  Part of why I write Waggle Weight Wisdom™ is to correct such information so you do not have to go through some of the needless experiences I went through.  But even if learned correctly, I can still attest to the fact that clubfitting can be harder to implement well (often substantially harder) than golf swing development.  The best competency in clubfitting requires every bit of golf swing knowledge that is needed for efficient golf swing analysis and development, plus knowledge in additional areas not needed to learn (or teach) an effective golf swing.

One item I previously recorded is that if your golf swing is still developing, you might obtain well-fitted golf clubs only to have them not fit adequately anymore in a matter of months if you are practicing frequently.  As a result, you may have to repeat an intense clubfitting process again relatively soon.  This would not be as much of an issue if you do not really practice, do not play often, and your swing might not change for a while (if at all) after being fitted for your club(s).  One bit of marketing often used by the clubfitting trade is that if you do not get fit properly for clubs when you are just starting to play the game, then you might get into some bad swing habits, with an underlying insinuation that such habits will adversely affect your golf swing and game for the rest of your life.  I will address this rubbish by first saying if at any point you choose to begin practicing your fundamental golf swing with no club or any other device in hand (the only guarantee of a perfectly fit club for each and every swing made), then any bad swing habits previously developed due to using ill-fitting clubs can still be overcome from that point forward to the fullest extent possible and will never be a worrisome issue again, even if and when ill-fitting clubs are encountered again.