So how do you go about getting a correct golf club fitting?
Finding a competent clubfitter is the first step. Most good golf stores will offer some form of club fitting. Some higher end driving ranges also offer club fitting. Good online golf retailers can also fit your clubs. At any rate, knowing what to look for will help you make sure you are getting fit correctly.
The clubfitter will begin by taking measurements of your body and swing. In addition to the standard static measurements like your height, wrist-to-floor measurement, and hand size, they may also offer some form of actual swing analysis. This is called a dynamic club fitting. A dynamic fitting involves hitting balls and perhaps an analysis of your swing with a Vector Launch Monitor. A Launch Monitor is an electronic radar device that measures your club speed, angle of attack, and launch angle, and other swing characteristics. These readings will measure how far, how high and in what direction your typical shots fly.
For lie adjustment the fitter may ask you to hit balls with a club that has sole tape applied. The impact marks on the sole tape will let them know if the sole was square to the ground at impact or misaligned. You would then continue hitting clubs with various lie angles until the sole tape indicated a center of sole contact.
From these tests and measurements the fitter will make a determination of the correct length, grip size, shaft flex, lie angle, and bend point for your clubs. A good, dynamic club fitting should take between 1 and 2 hours.
A clubfitter might also make recommendations for clubhead type (game improvement, super game improvement, players), driver loft and set makeup. If swing speed is slow, a perimeter weighted head with a low center of gravity might be called for. If you have problems making consistent contact then an oversized head with an offset hosel may be the most forgiving. If you are a strong player who makes good contact then you can choose more advanced clubs often called players clubs. Players clubs usually offer a smaller, more traditional looking head with less offset. Better players claim more ball control and an ability to work the ball with a blade style, more traditional club.
Getting Fit Online
A dynamic fitting with a competent clubmaker is always the ideal, but if you don’t have access to a trained clubfitter, getting fit on line can still help you get you the right clubs for your game. Just make sure that the online retailer knows the right questions to ask and provides tools that’s help you answer those questions.
The image to the right shows GigaGolf’s eFit system. You can find other system’s at many of the onlie golf retailers and on the websites of the major brands. TaylorMade as an interesting one here. Although I must admit it’s mighty slow with all those cool graphics.
Let’s start with grip size.
A grip that is too big will inhibit the proper release of the clubhead and cause the ball to tend to go right for right handed golfers. A grip that is too thin can promote an over-release and the ball may tend to go left. The opposite may be true if the grip is too big.
Correct grip size can be computed from glove size or by hand/finger measurement. Getting a correct grip size is very important and one of the more overlooked aspects of a complete club fitting. It can make a particularly big difference for women and junior golfers.
As far as grip type, this is a matter of personal preference. There are many good grips available. The major name brands are Golf Pride, Lamkin, and Winn. All make great grips and you can’t go wrong with any choice. A beginner would probably be happy with the default grip as long as it’s made by one of the above.
Next question would be shaft flex.
Shaft flex relates directly to swing speed. To answer this question online you’ll need to know how far you hit your 5 iron and driver in the air. Carry distance can be a very effective way to judge your swing’s speed, but you need to be realistic. An accurate estimate of swing speed will determine not only what shaft flex is correct for you but also what type of clubhead may be right. For irons, a slow speed will imply a clubhead with high-launch characteristics (a low center of gravity).
For a driver, a slower speed will point towards more loft. If you are a beginner and don’t know your carry distance, you can estimate that it will be somewhere between 200 and 225 for average males, 175 to 200 for senior men and better women, and 100 to 150 for average women. If these distances don’t match what you’ve experienced yet…keep playing. They will.
Next question should be your club length.
Your height will determine the length of the club. Another important variable is wrist-to-floor measurement. Someone with long arms for their height will need shorter clubs and someone with shorter arms will need longer clubs. But there is more to it.
Lie angle relates directly to club length. If your clubs need to be longer or shorter than standard than a lie adjustment may be in order. Clubs for very tall golfers may need more length and a lie angle made more upright so the sole of the club will sit squarely on the ground.
Shorter golfers may need their lies flattened to keep their clubs soled correctly. If the toe is up in the air at contact the ball will have a tendency to fly left of where you aimed for a right handed golfer. If the heel is up in the air the ball may go right of the intended line. Lie is important.
But lie also relates to your type of swing. Folks with the same height and wrist to floor measurements could need different lie adjustments. Some stand taller and swing more over their heads (upright). While others swing more behind them on a flatter plane. Each will need their clubs customized differently.
Putting It All Together
A good online fitting system will do more than just ask you questions. For example, GigaGolf’s online eFit system not only asks the right questions, but guides you through the process and helps with your fitting questions as you go. A good fitting system can be as much an educational tool as a selection process.
Selecting from available clubheads, grips and shafts is ultimately your choice. This is where understanding your own game is important. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help you make the right choices and understanding the club fitting process will help you take advantage of the possibilities. The right head, shaft, and grip can change your game for the better.
Tom Wishon is a golf designer who has some ideas and suggestions for how to get fit for a better golf game. Take a look…