Don't Alter Your Swing, Alter Your Clubs
Fitted Golf Clubs Make a Big Difference
It's one thing to spend countless hours trying to perfect your ball flight or perfect your swing, but trying to do either with ill-fit equipment is nothing but a waste of good time! Isn't golf challenging enough? A big mistake often made by golfers is trying to adjust their swings to clubs that aren't properly fitted, instead of adjusting the clubs to their body type and swing. In any sport good equipment can make a huge difference.
Customized Golf Equipment Makes a HUGE Difference
For instance, tennis pros have their racquets custom-made to their exact specifications just like PGA Tour players do with their golf clubs. I can guarantee you Lance Armstrong would have never won the Tour De France had he walked into a bike shop and picked up a random bike off the rack. An athlete can have all the talent in the world, but with poor equipment they will never reach the top of their sport. Often times during a lesson a student will tell me they can't hit their driver more than 180 yards when all their buddies are driving over 200 yards. After picking up their club my response is usually, "I can see why...I couldn't hit this thing over 200 yards either." Their clubs are often the wrong fit, but also cheaply made and out of date. While this is commonly the case with their driver and irons, it is my opinion that the putter is more often the worst fit club in a player's bag. Don't underestimate the importance of having a putter tailor-made for your stroke. Updating to quality, well fit equipment can do wonders for your game and your confidence.
One Size does NOT Fit All
Every body and personality is unique. Therefore, it is very common to find golfers that don't fit perfectly into stock clubs that are manufactured to fit the "general" population. It is easy to get a general fitting on-line or in a store by submitting your height, handicap, swing speed, wrist to floor measurement, age, gender and so on, but a static fitting never comes close in accuracy to a live fitting. After working with the TrackMan Launch Monitor I was amazed at the detail that goes into getting a truly accurate fit. I wouldn't recommend that anyone get fit without being on a launch monitor or being outside to view the trajectory and curve of the ball as well as viewing the size and shape of the divot pattern on the ground.
What are Custom Fitted Golf Clubs?
So what exactly are you getting fit for? When dealing with clubs off the rack or those made by the major brands such as Callaway and TaylorMade, the four main components of club fitting are shaft length, shaft flex, lie angle and grip size. When fitting a driver or woods, loft needs to be customized as well. There is however, a lot more that goes into getting a truly custom fit set of clubs made individually for you. Don't let the list that follows scare you, because in modern times it shouldn't cost more for you to order custom fit clubs. Of course you will usually have to pay a fitting fee to the fitter for his or her time.
Here's the original list plus some more specifications that can be customized for you:
- Shaft length - can add more distance, but be harder to control if it is too long. If it is too short obviously you could top a lot of shots or hit them thin and lose distance.
- Shaft Flex - allows you to get maximum distance as the shaft will be timed to your swing. It also affects direction. Too stiff or too flexible can send the ball right or left.
- Lie Angle - allows you to hit the ball in the center of the face. A club that is too flat will cause the ball to go right and one that is upright will cause it to go left.
- Grip Size - can make you too handsy or not handsy enough affecting both distance and direction
- Loft - will affect trajectory and can cause a loss of distance if the ball is launching too high or too low
- Kick point in the shaft - helps time the shaft to your swing so you can kick the ball up on the right trajectory
- Torque of the shaft - helps with consistency keeping the club head from twisting around too much
- Shaft Material - can affect stamina, swing speed and comfort
- Swing Weight - affects mostly feel
- Overall Weight - can affect swing speed, stamina and distance
This list does not include customizing the set make up and number of clubs you'd like to have in your bag. In other words, you may want graphite shafts where someone else would want steel. You might want more woods than irons or more wedges than another player and so on. For beginners, the question is usually..."when is a good time to get fit?" I recommend a couple of years. The reason being is that your swing will be constantly changing. It is important to get fit when you are at a place in your swing where you won't be making major alterations.
Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.