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Part 1: What constitutes a truly professional club fitting analysis?

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One of the least understood areas related to golf equipment is the matter of what constitutes a truly professional custom club fitting analysis. Over the past 10 years, club fitting technology has evolved from trial and error to a practice that is verified by technical research and analytical experience.

Even with the advancements of club fitting technology – which have been plentiful — and the advancements that are sure to come in the future, the best club fitters will always possess a combination of technical knowledge from years of study combined with judgment that is only acquired by the experience of fitting different golfers and learning from each encounter.

The biggest hurdle golfers face in their desire to be custom fit is an understanding of what constitutes a professional club fitting analysis. To many hitting numerous drivers on a golf simulator in a big box retail store until a sales person says “this is the one” constitutes being fit. A professional club fitting experience, however, is much more than that. It is a process that requires the analysis of numerous measurements of golfers and their existing clubs combined with an extensive observation of their swing characteristics to determine proposed fitting specifications. Those specifications are then verified or adjusted through observations of shot results and feedback from golfers.

Don’t think you’re good enough for a fitting? Think again. The procedures that truly professional club fitters use to fit scratch golfers are the same one they use to fit golfers who shoot in the 100’s. I’ve spent more than 30 years in serious club fitting technical research and have communicated and counseled with hundreds of club fitters. I’m also aware of the confusion among golfers about club fitting, so I wanted to offer an overview to explain what is behind a truly professional club fitting experience.

The Goal of Professional Club Fitting

The goal of a quality fitting analysis is to fully analyze golfers, their swing characteristics and game improvement goals to determine each of the 12 Key Fitting Specifications for every golf club that will allow golfers to play to the very best of their given ability and to be able to benefit the most from lessons they may take from a competent teaching professional.

Let’s get something straight right off the bat. Golfers of average ability, those who shoot between roughly 80 and 100, experience the most visible game improvement from proper fitting. The reason is because a very high level of their inconsistency comes from their inability to control clubs that are too long, too low lofted, too heavy, or too light. Often times, their set makeup is also improper, which magnifies many of the swing mistakes they make.

Don’t get me wrong – an accurate club fitting does not CURE swing mistakes. Rather it reduces the severity and the frequency of less-than-perfect swings to allow golfers to be more consistent than before.

Anything short of this “full specs, full bag” approach to fitting will not deliver maximum game improvement to the golfer. Look at it this way – if a competent club fitter can identify and deliver every one of the key fitting specifications for every club in the bag, why settle for less by going to a place that cannot do that? It will result in less than the maximum possible game improvement and enjoyment.

Professional Club Fitting Inputs and Decision Making Factors

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The above chart (click on it to make it bigger) presents an overview of the “inputs” and “outputs” of a professional full specs fitting analysis. The accumulation of all these factors represents the complete sum of what the professional club fitters need to know to conduct the fitting analysis in a manner that provides all the information from which the most accurate recommendations can be determined. While this chart may seem very extensive and even complicated, I can assure you that for the best club fitters, these areas of information are a routine part of their actions and thought processes during the fitting analysis. Those who are not competent in club fitting won’t be aware of even half of this information necessary to determine a golfer’s best fitting specifications.

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Starting with the light orange boxes on the left, the Key Fitting Specifications lists all the fitting parameters that need to be determined for each club for which the golfer is to be fit. The Technical Data Required lists the reference materials the fitter may need to combine with various points of analysis of golfers and measurements of their current clubs to help determine the Key Fitting Specification requirements. It is also important to ask golfers their opinion of what Golfer Improvement Goals they feel would be of the highest priority for the club fitting experience to help them achieve.

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The light green boxes on the right side of the chart reveal the measurements of the golfer and his/her current equipment along with the observations and specific evaluation points of the golfer’s swing characteristics the fitter needs to know. This is combined with the Technical Data Required to obtain the full complement of inputs from which each of the 12 Key Fitting Specifications for each club are determined.

The light blue boxes in the center of the chart explain what inputs are consulted to determine each of the 12 Key Fitting Specifications for the golfer.

In total, the above chart represents the entire amount of information that is required to determine what each of the 12 Key Fitting Specifications will be for each club being fit. The procedures and the time required can and will vary from one club fitter to the next depending on the fitter’s knowledge, commitment, experience and efficiency.

Please understand this analysis is offered to make golfers aware of the depth of knowledge, information and experience that the very best club fitters strive to learn to guide golfers into the best equipment for them. By no means do all or most of the people who offer club fittings follow or possess this level of fitting knowledge. Some do, however, and in the science and craft of club fitting this is the pinnacle to offer golfers the utmost in a fitting analysis.    

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Tom Wishon is a 40-year veteran of the golf equipment industry specializing in club head design, shaft performance analysis and club fitting research and development. He has been responsible for more than 50 different club head design firsts in his design career, including the first adjustable hosel device, as well as the first 0.830 COR fairway woods, hybrids and irons. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: February 2014 Tom served as a member of the Golf Digest Technical Advisory Panel, and has written several books on golf equipment including "The Search for the Perfect Golf Club" and "The Search for the Perfect Driver," which were selected as back-to-back winners of the 2006 and 2007 Golf Book of the Year by the International Network of Golf (ING), the largest organization of golf industry media professionals in the USA. He continues to teach and share his wealth of knowledge in custom club fitting through his latest book, "Common Sense Clubfitting: The Wishon Method," written for golf professionals and club makers to learn the latest techniques in accurate custom club fitting. Tom currently heads his own company, Tom Wishon Golf Technology, which specializes in the design of original, high-end custom golf equipment designs and club fitting research for independent custom club makers worldwide Click here to visit his site, wishongolf.com

64 Comments

64 Comments

  1. Pingback: THE IMPORTANCE OF CLUB SET MAKEUP – What’s in Your Golf Bag Makes a Big, Big Difference | The Club Maker

  2. David

    Nov 20, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    A pet peeve of mine is “high kick point vs low kick point”. If a fellow hits too low, in his opinion, and wants a higher trajectory, he requests a lower kick or bend point to flick the ball a little higher. The opposite is true for a golfer who hits too high. I’ve been a hobby builder for a dozen years and I say this is a load of manure. If you want the ball higher, get a more flexible tip. If you want the ball flight lower, tip trim or get a stiffer tip.
    Recently, a friend bought new TaylorMade irons. An expensive experiment. He was fitted by a part time college kid at a local golf specialty store. He wasn’t impressed with the clubs and wanted me to check them. I have a Neufinder and found the tips to be L flex. They’re labeled R flex. The lengths were too long and the loft and lie of each club wrong. In effect, the 7 iron was nearly a 5 iron, etc. throughout the whole set. This probably suits many average players who think they’re a stiff or a regular flex and should actually be playing a flex or two lighter. They’ll hit higher and longer.
    So, if a new TM 5 iron is actually a 3 iron, will it stay in the bag or be replaced with a hybrid? How many wedges will we carry? Five?

  3. Pat

    Nov 13, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    The difference in true club fitting and custom building is night and day compared to the crap off the rack. MOST GOLFERS DO NOT FIT INTO THE GARBAGE THAT THEY SELL OFF THE RACK AT GOLFSMITH. All golfers no matter their skill level and handicap, would benefit highly from a proper club fitting. For the longest time, before club fitting was readily available and affordable, I played stock clubs off the shelf that were s flex, standard l/l/l and mostly hit nasty duck hooks. After a proper fitting from Dave at tourcustoms, I found out that I need all my irons bent to 1 degree flat, play 1/4 inches short of standard and xx flex shafts. As for my woods and hybrids, I found that mid launch/low spin x flex shafts that were tip stiff and tipped an inch were optimal for my swing. My handicap immediately dropped 7 strokes. To all the golfers out there that are too stubborn or too cheap, get fitted. It’s and investment that is worth the time and little money to see a significant improvement in your game. The game is hard enough. Using clubs customized/optimized for your swing makes it easier.

  4. Pingback: The Core Of Club Fitting - The Golf Shop Online Blog

  5. Pingback: THE IMPORTANCE OF CLUB SET MAKEUP | Tom Wishon Golf Technology

  6. J

    Nov 9, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    No offense to the profession and the true craft of club building, but the parameters gather here are way too much for 99% of golfers. I agree that grip size, club length, and lie angle are crucial in fitting an individual, but the rest boils down to preference and should be determined on Trackman. Is my dispersion minimal? Does the set have the trajectory, carry and spin that feels right? Do I like a light club or heavy one? Can I tweak a few lofts to achieve my carry distances without dramatically changing bounce? Can I play with the clubs, look at my divots and then make a few minor lie adjustments? Trackman (not into a net) can answer all of these, by yes you guessed it…trial and error. This should get 99% of golfers into a set that will maximize their abilities.

    • Tom WIshon

      Nov 11, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      With complete respect, the 12 key specs are NOT too much for any golfer who has the ability to get 98% of his shots airborne and hits errant shots badly more often than not. One thing that golfers without an awareness of how the 12 key fitting specs combine to determine success vs not so much success with clubs is that a very BIG reason avg golfers struggle with their equipment is because several of the off the rack specs are making the clubs so much more difficult for them to hit.

      45-46″ drivers, lofts too low on 3w’s and 1/3 of the irons, one single shaft weight, one single swingweight and one single grip size can be a real problem for the avg player who doesn’t have good swing characteristics and doesn’t have above average golf athletic ability.

      Let’s take the 94 shooter who is 5’7, big hands, stronger than average, 3/4 length slash swing over the top, slices the ball and hits low burners to pop ups. Get this guy into an off the rack 45-46″ driver at D1 with a 65g stock shaft, with a std grip with thwe wrong loft and no face angle help and the game is not going to be much fun.

      But get him into a 43-43.5″ driver with a 2 hook face angle with the right loft, flatter lie and a 90g shaft with a D5 swingweight and oversize grip and bet the farm that he’s got a lot better chance coming home with a smile and then wanting to come back and play again and again.

      And getting the 12 key specs better matched to him is the reason – length, loft, lie, face angle, shaft weight, shaft flex, bend profile, total weight, swingweight, set makeup, clubhead model and grip style and size.

      Let’s put this another way. It is possible just like I wrote out all the inputs and outputs in a professional fitting for a bio-mechanics expert to write out ALL OF THE MOTIONS OF THE FULL GOLF SWING, one at a time from takeaway to follow through. Put all those things that you have to do in your swing down on paper, one after the other, and most people would believe there is no way that they can do all of that, in its proper sequence and timing.

      So all I did was write down the things that every good clubfitter has to routinely think about to come up with any golfer’s best specs – whether scratch or 100 shooter. And yes, on paper it looks like a blizzard of information and can convey the thought you had that this is too much.

      But it’s not. This is the routine. These are the things we have to measure, analyze and know to come up with the specs that best match each different golfer’s size, strength, athletic ability and swing characteristics.

      Thanks for your comment so I had the chance to explain this more clearly.

      • leftright

        Nov 11, 2014 at 7:11 pm

        Tom, with all due respect, a 90+ golfer will not benefit from anything but lessons. I am a skeptic because golf existed for a hundred years without this technology. I also know this technology has ruined many a good golf swing by making him/her too mechanical in their thinking. This is nothing more than another way to produce money for the golf business. It gives someone a job who might know a golf swing or two. First of all graphite shafts have all but ruined many golfers both technically and economically. I have played to a +2 but now am a 4 because I’m almost 60 and play when I can and all of this “stuff” has ruined the natural golf swing. Everyone wants to swing like Adam Scott and Tiger and the really good ball strikers that have “ever” existed have all had homemade golf swings. Moe Norman, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Fred Couples all had homemade golf swings. I know for a fact graphite shafts are a racket and I can find any 100.00 shaft that will perform like a 1000.00 shaft. Puring has been proved to be ludicrous and I can take the label off and no one, not even touring pros would know which iron or which ball they were hitting, much less what shaft or head. I had a guy hit a c8 club and he guessed D4 and vice versa because it’s all in the weighting. I had one of your performance fittings. The whole analysis, spent a lot of money and literally nothing changed. The only golfer that would benefit from substantial swing analysis would be the super high swing speed person and even then I would recommend, slow it down, keep it in this hemisphere and then they could us standard stuff. Golf is becoming way too expensive and with the economy the way it is I see golf going back to a rich man’s game very quickly. If I was the USGA, R&A or PGA tour I would outlaw graphite. It has caused more frustration, added expense and bad golf swings than everything else combined. No two shafts are alike…period and herein lies the fraud perpetuated on the golfing public. I can take two Matrix TP shaft at 1200.00 apiece and they are not identical by any stretch of the imagination and I can also produce a 100.00 shaft with essentially the same characteristics but the pain when you buy it is much less. Graphite is like Bentley’s and Chevrolet’s, it’s all in the appearance and price but both get you to point B and both can go fast and straight. The Bentley is handmade and the chevrolet mass produced but the chevrolet may be the one that doesn’t break down. Trouble is the Bentley might kill you because of the specifics that don’t apply to 98% of golfers.

        • Tom WIshon

          Nov 12, 2014 at 2:22 pm

          There are for sure a whole lot of more expensive products that don’t perform any better than some that are much less. And there are many areas in equipment where the hair is split too fine so the outcome is neither significant or worth it.

          Not that way with full specs fitting for the average player who shoots from 80s to 100, I can assure you from decades of fitting research, teaching fitting, and then listening to feedback from MANY clubfitters over the years.

          Now if we still lived in the days of 43″ drivers with the lofts of 30+ yrs ago, no question you would find more average players not struggle as much with their equipment as they do today. I cannot stress enough how bad the 46″ drivers, lack of face angle options, 14* 3 woods, 3, 4, 5 and 6 irons that are two irons stronger than the past are for the average players and how much stuff like this IS preventing these golfers from playing better AND from adapting to swing changes from lessons sooner or ever.

          One thing I wish is for every low handicap player to have the experience to wake up one day and be a 16, 20 or 25 hdcp golfer with below average golf athletic ability and live with that for a while to then be able to see just how much proper fitting could help them play better. Please understand I am NOT talking about proper fitting turning a 23 into a 9 or a 16 into a 5. Such big changes will ALWAYS require better swing characteristics. I am talking about turning a 23 into a 16 or a 16 into an 11 through proper full specs fitting.

          And that does happen a lot more than single digit players think it does.

        • Kevin PGA

          Dec 27, 2014 at 4:50 pm

          The origin of the golf profession was club making. Professionals like Old and Young Tom Morris would painstakingly whittle and sand hickory shafts until they performed properly for their clients. Properly fitted golf clubs reward and encourage the proper motion and give proper feedback for incorrect motion.

          As a golf professional I can tell you about a good swing, and have you make a good swing, but if the club creates a low slice from that swing, you are going to change the swing to make the ball go properly. Off the rack clubs are mostly likely different from club to club, you would have to learn 13 different swings to play well. Properly fit clubs are consistent throughout the set so that when you make the correct swing taught by your professional you are reward with a shot that goes where you want it to and how you want it to get there.

          I have had students that bought fitted clubs call me exasperated by how poorly they were hitting the ball. Because the clubs were giving proper feedback, I could say “Look the divots are toe deep, that means you are coming over the top and casting….” and in five minutes my student is striping the ball and is happy.

          Custom fit clubs can increase enjoyment of the game and thus increase rounds played, and that is what golf needs.

      • BR

        Nov 12, 2014 at 11:43 pm

        Tom,
        Thank you for the article and further guidance via your responses. I totally agree that almost anyone can benefit from these 12 fitting specs. Proper professional club fitting is a crucial step necessary for quality golf. Personally I can not imagine risking monetary investment for new clubs without knowing my abilities via these 12 specs (#’s 1,2,3, & 5 are of particular priority for me). #’s 3 & 5 specifically have helped save a small fortune regarding proper shaft fit. I sometimes wonder how I did not leave the game since I gambled and listened to marketing for 30+ years for my golf equipment decisions—big waste of time/$$. I am so thankful for your fitting articles, books and web site. Using these fitting specs I have lowered my hncp. Yes I took lessons and practiced more efficiently but I had clubs or instruments that fit my swing/abilities. I realize there are some natural athletes that can just pick up any club and have success, they are few and far between. I am not one. I just know since educating myself regarding club fitting my whole game has improved.

  7. Patricknorm

    Nov 8, 2014 at 9:33 am

    Hello Tom. I’m going to throw you a little love. I read your article about a year ago regarding club fitting on Golf WRX. I went to your webpage and found three fitters in the Toronto area. I settled on Brian Morrisey in Welland Ontario.
    I’m currently a 5.5 factor which usually translates into a 6 handicap.
    What proper club fitting did for me is measurably improve my 150 yards in scoring, especially the gapping with my shorter irons. Brian was expcetionally thorough and would not let me go until I hit all my irons in the middle of the club face. I’ll have to admit the whole process was intense but I wanted the precision of my irons to be close to perfect.
    My three wedges pretty saved my round when I wasn’t striking the ball well.
    I know that if I mishit an iron its on me. But most important, the clubs are fit for me and I can trust the yardages under pressure. I played 13 senior tournaments last season and the least of my worries were my clubs.
    That’s what club fitting is meant to do. So for me to get better, it’s sticking to my coach’s methods through practising and getting a little fitter.

  8. Rick Norton

    Nov 7, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Then i WASTED $250 on a full bag fitting. Because mine was in essence a hit these shaft & head combinations…. Then “this is the one” came about for irons & woods. Putter….hit these only. No lie angle check on anything, Only hand measurement and wrist to floor. And that was NOT at a big box store, but at an outside based club fitter.

    • leftright

      Nov 11, 2014 at 7:13 pm

      It’s fraud and should be called as such.

    • Pat

      Nov 13, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      You got a horrible club fitting then from some uneducated and greedy individual. A good club fitter will not skip any details including lie angle, length, spin numbers, angle of attack, etc. If you live in Florida, get a club fitting from Dave from tourcustoms. He is one of the best in the business and is meticulous when it comes to the smallest of details.

  9. Fran

    Nov 6, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    How do you feel about Mizuno’s Swing DNA system Tom? I’m going to buy a set of Mizuno’s next year and was looking at being fit by this system. Is this the correct way to go?

    • Tom WIshon

      Nov 6, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      I honestly cannot comment on that publicly because I have never had access to it to be able to dig into finding what it outputs for different golfer swing types. So I am sorry to say I cannot answer your question definitively. Once thing to keep in mind with ANY shaft fitting – the golfer’s sense of FEEL preference for the bending action of the shaft (if the golfer has such) outweighs any shaft fitting done traditionally through analysis of clubhead speed + transition force + downswing tempo + release point + strength, or, done with any sensor equipped device and software output.

      This is why the best fitters always ask the golfer if he has any specific feel preferences for his shaft (light, heavy, flexible at transition, stiff at transition, flexible kick feel through impact, firm feel through impact, etc) so he can know whether to modify his traditional output for the shaft to meet the golfer’s feel requirements. Not sure if there is any feel input with the Mizuno device.

    • Harry

      Nov 11, 2014 at 4:00 pm

      Fran,
      I would suggest not to define yourself to just one OEM. Go to a serious clubfitter who knows the in and outs of a golfclub, swing and swing tempo’s etc. Let him/her have you play different clubs and maybe a custom build set will be the better choice. If you feel comfortable with the clubfitter, and you trust him/her. follow the advice they give and ask for some garanty.

  10. tom stickney

    Nov 6, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    Great article Tom…you are right on the money…as ALWAYS!

  11. Trey

    Nov 6, 2014 at 11:05 am

    For everyone reading this, Tom’s advice is spot on. The only thing that I will add is that it helps to have some semblance of a decent golf swing. As it was suggested earlier among the comments, a golfer with a terrible swing should first learn the basics prior to being fitted. From there, the right equipment makes a world of difference. In the three months since Tom recommended a local fitter to me, my handicap has plummeted into the single digits, and if my putting were any good, I’d be playing mid-70s golf very consistently. If you play the game regularly, it pays tremendously to be properly fit.

    I was fitted for Wishon Irons and SCOR wedges, and have reversed my fortunes against my playing partners ever since. I’m regularly the one collecting on the 19th hole now, after months and months of being the one always having to pay up.

    The message is simple. If you are going to invest your time into playing the game, then invest a few dollars into the assurance that you’ll play the game to the best of your ability.

  12. CrushSticks

    Nov 5, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    most of you are looking at this the wrong way. Tom understands that most people aren’t going to go through this process, but he is telling you that you will play better golf if you do. Most of the golfers I deal with in my store overlook any factor but distance when looking at clubs. If they understood how much they could improve the consistency and quality of their mishit shots through proper fitting, it would be a game changer. But it’s just not going to happen. I always try to keep Tom’s words in mind when dealing with fittings, but we live in a distance or nothing world. Funny thing is, with a little quality instruction and properly fit clubs, most people could hit the ball further. Kudos Mr. Wishon. The game needs people like you.

    • leftright

      Nov 11, 2014 at 7:16 pm

      Tom is wanting to guarantee future income. These fitting are nothing more than a way to make more money. He is Tom Wishon and people will pay him big bucks for something you can do yourself with demos and 35 golf balls. The game is too technical and it doesn’t have to be. I have found fitting to be useless most of the time except for the really high swing speed guys, in the 115+ range.

      • Pat

        Nov 13, 2014 at 1:31 pm

        Leftright, you are 100% WRONG. Most golfers do benefit from a good club fitting. I went from duck hooks to dropping 7 strokes immediately after I got fit for the right shafts. Of course I fit into the 120+mph category and need xx flex shafts. However, I have seen with my own eyes, many friends and family that have been custom fit as well with much slower swing speeds that have seen their handicaps drop dramatically as well. You can find great club fitters that do full bag fittings for decent prices. The ones that charge 250+ are the ones that are clearly in it for the money and greedy.

      • Curt

        Dec 27, 2014 at 11:53 am

        Dude, you have a personal axe to grind. Tom is a real professional offering a valuable service. Yes, we all need lessons to have better technique, but we surely do not want to have additional hurdles we can solve before we ever step foot on the golf course – non fitted equipment.

      • marc

        Dec 31, 2014 at 4:47 pm

        I have to say that my experience does not agree with what you are saying. I dropped from a 11 to an 8 in less than a month after getting properly fit and following Tom’s recommendations. I can however, understand how you may feel that way if you’ve been burned. I spent $450 for a “high end full bag fitting” and ended up with crap. I asked Tom for help via email and he pointed me to a couple reputable places in my area. Completely different experience… and cheaper.

  13. Charlie

    Nov 5, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    I would like to hear Tom talk about the step by step process in his fittings. What do you do first? You should write an article about the process of fitting rather than your fundamentals of fitting that you have written about before.

    • Tom WIshon

      Nov 6, 2014 at 11:17 am

      That will come. My original article here was set up as a 2 part article. Part 1 as you read it here, then Part 2 was to take the Blue Boxes of all 12 key specs in the middle of the chart and break them down to explain the fitting analysis for how you looked at the inputs to each of the 12 key specs and made the decision for what each should be.

      Long story short, that was taking too much writing to cover each of the 12 in one second part for the article. So WRX talked me into taking each of the 12 key specs and put each into its own separate article to follow part 1. So that way I could say more about each spec’s determination, and from that, there will be a part 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 in total !!

      WRX wants these weekly so watch for part 2 on the determination of length coming next.

      • Philip

        Nov 6, 2014 at 11:33 am

        All I can say is – WOW! and thank-you. Very much appreciated.

        I built a “tiny” golf workshop and have been gradually tweaking my clubs to better reproduce my natural practice swing as my on-course swing. My understanding of myself on course, my swing, along with cause and effect of equipment specifications and my set-up has increased greatly over the last three years.

        I was going to post a question in the equipment or club making forums on the relationship between club head weight displacement, offset, and face angle (open vs closed) and the effects it seems to have on my swing path and upper/lower body action, but I’ll wait for this series to complete first in case you happen to cover it.

        • Tom WIshon

          Nov 6, 2014 at 4:40 pm

          Philip – because these things may come later in the series rather than sooner, I will be happy to offer some insight on what you ask. As far as having a direct effect on your swing path as you start the downswing, the fitting elements that can do that are length, total weight, headweight (swingweight) and grip size. Offset and Face Angle have nothing to do with whether you shift swing path from one club or swing to the next.

          For golfers who fight going over the top and coming down outside in, when length is too long for the golfer, it can cause them to go more over the top and more outside in. When total weight is too light or too heavy, same thing can happen. When swingweight is too light or too heavy, same thing can happen. Of these, length too long, weighting too light are the worst for causing more swing path problems than will length too short or weighting too heavy.

          The goal of getting the length, total weight and swingweight just right for each golfer is to allow them to start the downswing more in control, to use the hands and arms less to start the downswing, and to have the length/weighting be better matched to the golfer’s tempo, timing, rhythm so that they can achieve a little higher level of swing consistency and swing repeatability.

    • Tom WIshon

      Nov 7, 2014 at 10:50 am

      Charlie – in re-reading your comment, I thought that rather than make you wait, I would be happy to talk about the PROCEDURES of fitting, so you know what goes on in a good fitting. I don’t have all the space here to really dive deep into that but I can offer the procedural overview to tell you what you want to know.

      If you look at the template in my article, you will see the many things that the clubfitter has to know about the golfer. First things first, the clubfitter has to interview the golfer to find out as much as he can about what the golfer feels he needs most improvement on – distance, accuracy, consistency, trajectory or a solution to a feel issue with the clubs. This tells the clubfitter a little more about what to focus on as he makes his own evaluation of what he thinks would help the golfer more.

      The fitter should measure some specs of some of the golfer’s key clubs so he knows where the golfer is NOW with his specs. When the golfer hits warm up shots with his clubs, this helps the fitter get an idea what current specs may be good or less good as he goes forward to find what are the golfer’s best specs.

      As the golfer hits warm up shots from short iron up to driver, THIS IS WHEN THE FITTER IS REALLY DOING HIS SWING AND SHOT EVALUATION – transition, tempo, release, strength and athletic ability, swing path, shot shape tendencies, etc. AND the good fitter is also looking at the swing moves from a standpoint of IS THIS GOLFER AT A LEVEL OF REASONABLE MISS HIT CONSISTENCY THAT FITTING IS GOING TO HELP AND ARE THERE SWING ISSUES THAT ARE GOING TO NEGATE WHAT THE FITTING CHANGES COULD DO.

      After warm up time ends with the driver, the golfer now hits drivers on the launch monitor. Here the fitter is able to see clubhead speed, angle of attack, face delivery, spin, launch angle, etc and how these monitor outputs relate to what the ball flight shape looks like.

      Golfer then does the same thing with a mid iron so the fitter can see launch monitor outputs for the iron. And all during these launch monitor shots, the fitter is CONTINUING TO WATCH THE SWING CHARACTERISTICS to see what the range in variation in his swing moves is.

      All during the time this is all going on, the fitter is thinking about all these cause and effect relationships of the swing characteristics and launch monitor outputs to each fitting spec – the BLUE Boxes in the template. So at this point, the fitter now should have a decent idea of the test club specs he wants the golfer to try out next to start the process of verifying what fitting specs he needs.

      Test club hitting is done with the iron first, watching for changes in the shot shape, launch monitor outputs, AND ASKING THE GOLFER FOR FEEDBACK – looking at these things and thinking what tweaks in the test club specs should be to get better results if possible. Then comes the driver for doing the same thing test club wise.

      This can take some time. This is also where you may see differences in how much time the fitter continues to go through the test club phase. Such differences don’t typially mean a better vs worse fitting at all – usually when a fitter takes much more time, he is just trying to get more and more feedback to keep trying to nail down the final specs.

      Then the fitter knows what the specs should be to help the golfer as much as is possible. At this point the procedure can vary in terms of where you go from there – building final test clubs to have the golfer go play and hit for a week or so to then come back and report results to the fitter; telling the golfer what his final specs are and asking if he’s happy with that to then finalize the clubs to be bought, and so forth.

      Other things that can vary the procedure is whether the golfer wants to be fit only for one part of his set – driver only, irons, or full set, etc.

      Of course I could write a book on the Nth degree procedures, but this is a general overview of the process as we see it to be able to get all the inputs you need and then go through the test club process to know what the golfer needs.

  14. Charlie

    Nov 5, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    I always laugh when people who can’t hit it 50 yards or have never played golf before think they need to be fit for clubs. It’s because people read stuff like this that perpetuates an inept concept. How would you conduct this fitting for an absolute beginner? Since you say it is necessary in the comments, please fill us in.

    • S

      Nov 6, 2014 at 8:59 am

      What seems to be inept here is your belief or theory that a beginner can’t benefit from being fit properly. Obviously, a person who is starting out will not see the benefits (yet) of having a full in-depth fitting as described by Tom. However, most clubs that beginners use are hand me downs or a box set of clubs that gets them started. Problems with just going to the range with hand me downs is the more they use these ill fit clubs, bad habits will develop.

      For example, if a golfer who is 5’7 with long arms who uses a basic boxed set or his friends old set of clubs will probably swing clubs that are too long/upright. As a result, they will swing those clubs to make them work. The longer they swing an upright iron the more upright and steep they will become.

      That obviously can be detrimental to their development and ultimately may discourage them from playing because they cannot make the clubs work. Indian or arrows you ask? In that scenario, it may be more arrow.

      • simon

        Nov 7, 2014 at 3:18 am

        As a pro teaching for years i see many using the wrong type of clubs however for beginners who cant swing the same swing path everytime it makes little difference.Become consistant and then get fit.btw John Daly used a heavy club since he was a kid and it didnt hurt him .My holiday set is an old set of my late fathers pings way too flat for me yet after a few shots i can dial in to desired ball flight…..swing and practice is key and fitting is the iceing on the cake.
        Happy golfing.

    • Tom WIshon

      Nov 6, 2014 at 11:24 am

      The only “fitting” for an actual beginner or very green golfer is to simply get them into clubs which make taking lessons and practicing what they are taught a little easier than what is possible with off the rack clubs today. That means much shorter and higher loft driver, no 3 wood, 5 and 7 wood that are also shorter, no iron lower than a 5 or 6 iron, grips that definitely fit their hands, and weighting that is reasonably suited to their strength.

      Then when the golfer gets to the point that 98% of their shots are airborne, their miss hits are reasonably in the same direction and shape even though they may have a misdirection range from 15yd to 35yd, that’s when the whole fitting can step in to help take them to their next level of improvement.

      Please be aware that with good fitters, they will definitely have several golfers each year that they very kindly inform the golfer to take lessons and get to this point with their game before coming back in to be fit.

  15. CT

    Nov 5, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    This seems more like an advertisement for The Wishon fitting method. Although, I admire many things he says and am glad he is a constant participater in GolfWRX forums, I don’t see major OEM’s ever adopting this process in fitting. Nor do people need this long of a process. You don’t even see Cool Clubs or Club Champion doing this extensive work. How do you measure “wrist cock release?” Someone that is fat and out of shape but swings a 6 iron at 92 mph needs something different than an athletic flat belly with same swing speed and golfing abilities. Ludicrous.

    • Tom WIshon

      Nov 6, 2014 at 11:33 am

      OEMS can’t adopt any form of fitting that determines all 12 key fitting specs for all clubs in the bag because they can’t achieve the sales volume in that business model to reach their required numbers each year. Can’t be done. They’d love to somehow because they are at the wall for new design technology – just look at the “fitting related” things they have offered over the past few years as evidence that they know fitting is the next frontier in club development for golfers – interchange shafts, adjustable hosels, etc.

      But these “fitting related” things they offer still have to be able to be packaged within pre built clubs that can be shipped to all the stores to sell off the rack because that is the only way they can achieve the sales volume they need to reach their required numbers.

      As to the length of this fitting process, the good fitters can do this in 90mins easily. Some in 60mins. Here’s why and how – look at the blue boxes in the middle of the template that show what inputs are consulted to determine each of the 12 key fittting specs. You’ll see that many of the key fitting specs use the same swing inputs as part of their determination. So the good fitters are thinking of several specs all at the same time when they see the golfer’s transition or tempo or release and so forth. That shortens the time for figuring out what all the specs should be.

      They do NOT do this by working on one spec at a time. They do this by thinking of several of the specs at the same time from their analysis of the golfer swing inputs and measurements.

      How do you measure the wrist hinge release? You are trained to either see it by watching when the clubhead starts to move farther away from the body OR they pull out their smart phone (or vid camera) and video the golfer to then watch when the wrists start to unhinge in the downswing. That’s really easy to do today with all the technology we all now have access to.

  16. luis morales

    Nov 5, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    I had a great fitting experience with Tim Mosel out in Denville, NJ. Got TW clubs and it made a big difference (for me). Started at 25 hdcp and finished the year at 18.

    • Dick

      Nov 5, 2014 at 8:53 pm

      Wow, a whole 7 shots? Did you ever think that the secret is in the dirt and maybe you were playing more?

  17. Rodan

    Nov 5, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    I like the list and Tom would know what is needed to properly fit a set of clubs.

    The issue is that of the 4 fittings I have been involved in (a major OEM performance center, 2 national golf fitting/training company franchise stores and a independent award winning club fitter/builder) none have come close to this type of fitting. And I would guess that what i received is similar to what a lot of other players experience.

    It would be nice to know how to get this type of fitting.

    • Carl Truitt

      Nov 5, 2014 at 8:59 pm

      Let me know when you figure it out….I’m in the same boat

    • leftright

      Nov 11, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      Get some demos and practice balls. It is either to flat or too upright. Either to stiff or not stiff enough. If you prefer graphite…good luck. It is a a gamble at best.

  18. Dan Riley

    Nov 5, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    If you go to Tom’s website, you can find a list of club fitters who have been trained in Tom’s methodology. I did. The first meeting he told me that I should take lessons, gain a little consistency, then come back to be fitted. I did.
    When I went back he spent 6 hours evaluating my current equipment and evaluating me and then recommended several options at several price points that would help me to maximize my potential. I went with Wishon heads and component shafts. You can not buy clubs of this quality from the large OEMs. And they fit me perfectly. And cost no more than OEM equipment.
    You can’t get any of this in a big box store.
    GET FIT!!!

    • Dan Riley

      Nov 5, 2014 at 5:49 pm

      BTW: I went from a 26 to a 15 (I’m almost 70 and have been playing for 8 years)but at least I know that it’s not the arrows

      • Dick

        Nov 5, 2014 at 8:58 pm

        I’m sure his place was very busy. Did he block out 6 hours of his schedule for you? There is a reason why he had 6 hours to waste

  19. JS

    Nov 5, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    This is just too much info. I did fittings for about four years and probably 80 % of them were for guys that can’t get the ball in the air. I had more than one player break a club by hitting the back of a lie board. It won’t matter what you fit them into. They will still be bad golfers. You can for sure help them, but a fitting can only do so much. This article makes it look like someone will go straight to the tour if they get fit. It doesnt work that way. Just get a stock iron set with regular flex shafts and bend their lie angles up to compensate for their over the top swing. Fitting done.

    • Tom WIshon

      Nov 5, 2014 at 5:45 pm

      With all due respect with the utmost compassion but you are wrong. Tens and tens of thousands of 85-100 shooters who have taken the leap of faith to work with a good, experienced clubfitter who definitely takes the time in this type of approach have walked away with definite improvement through a reduction of the frequency and the severity of their poor shots from their less than stellar swings. And a definite side effect of this that we have been tracking for 7 yrs from our close association with the British PGA’s education department also shows when the avg golfer has clubs better fit for length, loft, lie, total weight, swingweight and grip size – when they take lessons they improve more quickly because the clubs are now not preventing them from making the swing changes the teaching pro is prescribing.

      With avg players today who are not that athletically inclined, several of the std club specs in off the rack clubs most certainly do make it more difficult for them to learn better swing characteristics.

    • Dick

      Nov 5, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      He is 100% correct, Tom is dead wrong. Go get fit for 3 hours and enjoy your Wishon clubs

    • DatSliceDoe

      Nov 5, 2014 at 11:00 pm

      I’d have to agree in some respects, if you are a literal hacker, as in you actually HACK at the ball, you can’t be fit. Period. I’ve had to tell people to get a lesson from a friend, a pro, a video…before they can really invest in a set of clubs. You need some semblance of a consistent swing to be properly fit, but because the marketing has driven everyone to go get a fitting, people end up with clubs that are no better than an off the rack set because their consistency level is so low.

      I do recommend getting fit for grip size, length and shaft at the bare minimum if you are a beginner, but anything beyond that probably won’t help. You need SOME game to get fit well, and a lot of game to really see a benefit. Just my opinion.

  20. snowman

    Nov 5, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Great Stuff as always, Tom. Good Template for what to look for as a consumer. I previously had a bad experience with a top-tier, expensive, national club fitting company. In short, although I suppose their recommendations were valid based upon my trackman numbers, I feel that they recommended only premium priced equipment, shaft upgrades, etc. as a way to get deeper into my pockets. I find the lack of consistency/quality control within the fitting ‘industry’ to be very daunting/dismaying.

  21. Joel

    Nov 5, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Tom it really is a shame that you don’t do fittings except for on special occasions anymore.

  22. Don

    Nov 5, 2014 at 11:18 am

    This is a great article. It gives me an idea of what to ask for when dealing with a fitter. I am planning on changing from my ping i15’s next year. This information can only help ensure I am getting what will get the most out of me. Thank you.

  23. gio

    Nov 5, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Tom – thanks for posting this. I’m actually going for a full fitting at Club Champion in DC this Friday. I printed out your graphic regarding all the inputs/outputs to have with me during the fitting and see which of those areas the fitter actually takes care of.

    • Carl truit

      Nov 5, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      Club champion is a nice place with lots of glitz and glam, but it is in no way close to what TW just wrote. You will try shafts and heads from the big OEM’s then the fitter will give you a price proposal that is 2x what it would cost to special order the same set from the OEM.

      There is a place and time for Club Champion, but know now that it is nothing like what Tom talks about.

      The real shame is that it is next to impossible to find a fitter who is able (and willing) to use Tom’s methodology. Most that I’ve talked to act like they follow his template, but they really just want to fit you into something from their oem fitting cart.

      • Tom WIshon

        Nov 5, 2014 at 5:47 pm

        If you are talking to fitters who work from an OEM cart, then you are not talking to the clubfitters who can do the best in a good fitting situation. Here’s where you will find the better fitters who do work to follow this template :

        The AGCP (Association of Golf Clubfitting Professionals) – http://www.agcpgolf.com/locator/

        The ICG (International Clubmakers’ Guild) – http://www.clubmakersguild.com/index.php/membership-directory/guild-google-map

        The TWGT Clubmaker Locator at – http://wishongolf.com/find-a-clubfitter/

        • Carl Truitt

          Nov 5, 2014 at 8:56 pm

          Tom…Actually the fitter that I worked with was AGCP certified (level 9 or 10), seemed to be credentialed based on my research, was a TWGT Clubmaker and was recommended in one of the many helpful posts of yours in the Golfwrx forums.

          My point was just to illustrate that even with the knowledge you share about what we should look for, we can only drive the process as far as the fitter is willing to go. Maybe I’m wrong, but I got the impression that this fitter wanted to sell OEM product. I hit 50 balls, got data from a Mizuno Shaft optimizer, it spit out 2 shafts and that was the recommendation. Fitter recommended OEM standard length/loft/Grips/SW and lie per the lie board. Maybe the margins are better, maybe it’s less work or maybe the sale is easier. In any case, I moved on because I’ve played long enough to know what I was looking for and I was not going to find it there. It was a shame because this was too similar to the experience of going to the high volume retailer.

          • Tom WIshon

            Nov 6, 2014 at 11:48 am

            Carl, in a perfect world, I would have a “fitting college” with a 4 to 6 month curriculum that would turn out fitters all marching perfectly in step with their knowledge and procedures. That’s unrealistic because there is very little demand yet for full specs professional fitting, mainly because so few golfers know the technology does exist to do this really well. This isn’t known because none of the companies who particulate in the real fitting side of the business make enough money to fund a major marketing campaign to educate the golfers about this.

            So my job has always been to do the fitting research and then write and teach whoever wants to know this stuff in depth. And those who really get into it do study and learn it, while others take the shortcuts.

            Yes, fitting’s Achilles Heel is the fact that not all who say they can fit can do it with the level of expertise that can definitely ensure a huge percentage of success in game improvement from fitting. But some do and more are getting involved more in depth. So it takes some due diligence from the golfers to not just find the name of who appears on surface to be a decent fitter, but then to ask the fitter for names of people he has fit so you contact them to ask their impressions. No different than if you are hunting for a good accountant, mechanic, lawyer or any person of a specialized trade.

            But the fact does remain that full specs fitting CAN and DOES allow a very high percentage of golfers to walk away with some to a lot of improvement to enjoy the game more. Especially so for the avg players for whom so many of the off the rack club specs do prevent them from playing to the best of their ability.

            I mean really – how is it that all baseball, softball and tennis players routinely get their bats and rackets fit for each of those sports’ key fitting specs but in golf it hasn’t been that way. Any sport where you use a stick to hit a ball can never allow its participants to play to the best of their ability with one size fits all “sticks”. Golfers are all different in their size, strength, athletic ability and swing characteristics just like ball players and tennis players.

            PROPER fitting does work in golf. It’s just that it is so little known but it is becoming more known, one golfer at a time. And for those who have found a good fitter, they know it works.

      • Dick

        Nov 5, 2014 at 8:56 pm

        What options do they have? They are simply doing their best with the products given. i don’t see any PING or Titleist fitters doing this ever. I’m talking staffed Reps not big box goons

        • Tom WIshon

          Nov 6, 2014 at 4:51 pm

          Not as many for sure as will the independent custom clubfitter because the OEM heads are all mfgd to be built to the company’s one series of standard specs so they can chiefly be shipped to retailers to be sold off the rack. Places like Hot Stix, Cool Clubs, Club Champion do a very good job expanding these standard head options into a wider range of fitting options for golfers, but they still can’t hit all the fitting options that all the different golfers, especially average golfers, will need to be fully correctly fit.

          To do this right, really right, for ALL golfers, you need to be able to offer lofts from 8 to 16, face angles from 2 open to 4 closed, lies from 2 up to 4 flat and have them all able to be INDEPENDENT of each other on the same driver head. Then you have to have the headweight and a weight addition capability set up so you could hit swingweights from C0 to D6 with shafts that weigh from 50 to 90g and at lengths from 42 to 45. That’s tough with any OEM head because it has been designed to be built to one series of std specs.

          OEM fitting that offers different lengths rarely ever can get the swingweight at whatever level it needs to be for the different length options.

          And with the adj hosel drivers that they all offer, you only get the loft stated when the golfer ALWAYS holds the face square. That eliminates an open or closed face angle for hook/slice reduction which is something at least 70-80% of all golfers need in a driver fitting. And you cannot get loft, lie and face angle all independent of each other in any adj hosel driver.

          For GOOD players, OEM fitting can be fine because their available specs tend to range within what a good player needs. Very tough for avg players though who need a lot more specs different than what are std on the OEM clubs.

      • Blaik

        Nov 6, 2014 at 12:17 pm

        The fitting experience at Club Champion was very thorough I thought. I will say I was hesitant to spend that kind of coin at Club Champion too but the guy took me back into their build room and showed me how they built the clubs. Each shaft was flex sorted and each head was weighed. I made them check the swingweights when I picked them up and they were all within half a swing weight of what was noted. My buddy has a frequency meter and when I checked them they were all about spot on. I guess it just depends on how much you value consistent materials and a quality build. For the most part I’m happy with them too, just wish I would have waited a little longer because there are a few other heads that are coming out I think I might like more than what I got. If you truly want custom clubs it’s gonna cost more than stock.

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