Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

The differences between good and bad club fitters—and they’re not what you think

Published

on

Club fitting is still a highly debated topic, with many golfers continuing to believe they’re just not good enough to be fit. That couldn’t be further from the truth, but it’s a topic for another day.

Once you have decided to invest in your game and equipment, however, the next step is figuring out where to get fit, and working with a fitter.  You see, unlike professionals in other industries, club fitting “certification” is still a little like the wild west. While there are certification courses and lesson modules from OEMs on how to fit their specific equipment, from company to company, there is still some slight variance in philosophy.

Then there are agnostic fitting facilities that work with a curated equipment matrix from a number of manufacturers. Some have multiple locations all over the country and others might only have a few smaller centralized locations in a particular city. In some cases, you might even be able to find single-person operations.

So how do you separate the good from the bad? This is the million-dollar question for golfers looking to get fit. Unless you have experience going through a fitting before or have a base knowledge about fitting, it can feel like an intimidating process. This guide is built to help you ask the right questions and pay attention to the right things to make sure you are getting the most out of your fitting.

The signs of a great fitter

  • Launch monitor experience: Having some type of launch monitor certification isn’t a requirement but being able to properly understand the interpret parameters is! A good fitter should be able to explain the parameters they are using to help get the right clubs and understand how to tweak specs to help you get optimized. The exact labeling may vary depending on the type of launch monitor but they all mostly provide the same information….Here is an example of what a fitter should be looking for in an iron fitting: “The most important parameter in an iron fitting” 
  • Communication skills: Being able to explain why and how changes are being made is a telltale sign your fitter is knowledgeable—it should feel like you are learning something along the way. Remember, communication is a two-way street so also being a good listener is another sign your working with a good fitter.
  • Transparency: This involves things like talking about price, budgets, any brand preferences from the start. This prevents getting handed something out of your price range and wasting swings during your fit.
  • A focus on better: Whether it be hitting it further and straighter with your driver or hitting more greens, the fitting should be goal-orientated. This means looking at all kinds of variables to make sure what you are getting is actually better than your current clubs. Having a driver you hit 10 yards farther isn’t helpful if you don’t know where it’s going….A great fitter that knows their stuff should quickly be able to narrow down potential options to 4-5 and then work towards optimizing from there.
  • Honesty and respect: These are so obvious, I shouldn’t even have to put it on the list. I want to see these traits from anybody in a sales position when working with customers that are looking to them for knowledge and information…If you as the golfer is only seeing marginal gains from a new product or an upgrade option, you should be told that and given the proper information to make an informed decision. The great fitters, and I’ve worked with a lot of them, will be quick to tell a golfer, “I don’t think we’re going to beat (X) club today, maybe we should look at another part of your bag where you struggle.” This kind of interaction builds trust and in the end results in happy golfers and respected fitters.

The signs of a bad fitter

  • Pushing an agenda: This can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Whether it be a particular affinity towards certain brands of clubs or even shafts. If you talk to players that have all been to the same fitter and their swings and skill levels vary yet the clubs or brands of shafts they end up with (from a brand agnostic facility) seem to be eerily similar it might be time to ask questions.
  • Poor communications: As you are going through the fitting process and warming up you should feel like you’re being interviewed as a way to collect data and help solve problems in your game. This process helps create a baseline of information for your fitter. If you are not experiencing that, or your fitter isn’t explaining or answering your questions directly, then there is a serious communication problem, or it could show lack of knowledge depth when it comes to their ability.
  • Lack of transparency: If you feel like you’re not getting answers to straightforward questions or a fitter tells you “not to worry about it” then that is a big no-no from me.
    Side note: It is my opinion that golfers should pay for fittings, and in a way consider it a knowledge-gathering session. Of course, the end goal for the golfer is to find newer better fitting clubs, and for the fitter to sell you them (let’s be real here), but you should never feel the information is not being shared openly.
  • Pressure sales tactics: It exists in every industry, I get it, but if you pay for your fitting you are paying for information, use it to your advantage. You shouldn’t feel pressured to buy, and it’s always OK to seek out a knowledgeable second opinion (knowledgeable being a very key word in that sentence!).  If you are getting the hard sell or any combination of the traits above, there is a good chance you’re not working with the right fitter for you.

Final thoughts

Great fitters with great reputations and proper knowledge have long lists, even waiting lists, of golfers waiting to see them. The biggest sign of a great fitter is a long list of repeat customers.

Golf is a game that can be played for an entire lifetime, and just like with teachers and swing coaches, the good ones are in it for the long haul to help you play better and build a rapport—not just sell you the latest and greatest (although we all like new toys—myself included) because they can make a few bucks.

Trust your gut, and ask questions!

 

Your Reaction?
  • 397
  • LEGIT62
  • WOW8
  • LOL11
  • IDHT8
  • FLOP8
  • OB5
  • SHANK38

Ryan Barath is part of the Digital Content Creation Team for GolfWRX. He hosts the "On Spec" Podcast on the GolfWRX Radio Network which focuses on discussing everything golf, including gear, technology, fitting, and course architecture. He is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. phizzy

    Sep 25, 2020 at 6:29 pm

    I have been fit numerous times over the years starting in 2008. First fitter I went to didn’t give me the opportunity to hear my input and kept pushing certain club heads and shafts. He did play on the PGA for less than a full season as he claimed(did my research),so I thought he was credible. Boy was I wrong. He fit me into a super tri with fubuki alpha 60x and it would balloon on me with too much spin. Less than a year later I found another fitter and have been giving my business to him ever since. He was always asking for my input and never pushed products. He would give me the info from his trackman and would recommend what would best suit me. Recently, I did a driver fitting with him and walked away with a SIM Max with Ventus Black 7x tipped one inch at 45 inches. Hitting 320 total yard bombs with minimal dispersion and am very happy. A good club fitter is essential to maximizing your time out on the course.

  2. SteveT

    Sep 2, 2020 at 10:59 am

    Any iron fitting I’ve experienced, either for myself or a friend, always involves using the demo 6/7 iron from any set, and this involves those often on the overrated “Top 100 Fitters List” With all this talk about proper fitting, I doubt the typical customer ever reaps the benefits of things like set gapping. I do believe a real fitting is only experienced by those privileged enough to visit an OEM performance center or similar facility.

  3. Speedy

    Aug 30, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    “The biggest sign of a great fitter is a long list of repeat customers.”

    I don’t think so.

  4. BG

    Aug 19, 2020 at 2:12 pm

    Everyone and their dog is a fitter these days; finding a good one is indeed a challenge. What’s even more frustrating is when the custom clubs you order do not come back to the specifications for which you were fit. Frustrating when you are expecting D4, and everything comes back D2.5. I’ve struggled with OEM’s, and custom builders alike. It’s a big ball of mess out there if you ask me.

  5. Joe Beau

    Aug 18, 2020 at 10:04 am

    Ok. How about providing us with a list of some qualified fitters? I haven’t heard of 1 within 100 miles of me.

  6. Alistair Harper

    Aug 17, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    I’ve been fortunate to have as a best friend, one of the top fitters in the industry, Larry Bobka who has fit my clubs for decades and it makes a WORLD of difference. Over the years Larry has put people like Tiger, Phil, Adam and hundreds more pros into the best set-ups for their game. Cannot overestimate the value of a quality club fitting by a great fitter.

  7. Peter

    Aug 14, 2020 at 11:30 pm

    Upgrading after 20 years, I had my heart set on some WS irons. Got measured and hit some balls. It turned out that I wasn’t up to standard for the ‘player irons’ I was hoping for. I was given 6 iclubs from different manufacturers to hit with the instruction of not looking at the names on the iron. Found my preference and walked away with a set of i200s. After 3 years, still enjoy hitting them everyday

  8. Jack Wullkotte

    Aug 14, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    How come you did’t print my response to your article about club fitters?

  9. joro

    Aug 14, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    Being a teacher and fitter myself I think about 10% of the “Fitters” are really Qualified to do a proper and good fitting. Most are guys that are given the job because they are apprentices or just a good player. As a former club maker for a Major manufacturer
    and making clubs for Tour Players what they need in way of shafts, grips, lie angle, and balance, which is something that most Club Fitters overlook, the small but important stuff.

    I have known my own specs for years but even so when I went to a Major Club manufaturer for a fitting as a staff member the guy who fit me who was supposed to be one of their best fitters said to me forget the past, you are over 60 so you need to go to SR. flex and lighter. I was playing stiff and heavier at the time and very well at the time. So he fit me and sent me off with 2 sets of “Expertly fitted” clubs. They were awful!!!! So I rebuilt them to my specs and they were great. That was one of the top fitters at the fitting range. Soooo, take it as you may, and never have a fitting indoors, you have see the full flight of the ball to determine what you really need.

  10. Leftshot

    Aug 14, 2020 at 11:13 am

    A few things missing. How comprehensive is the fitting? Are you fit for length,lie angle, swing weigh, other shaft and head characteristics, or just offered two shafts one with an R stamped on it and one with an S. The fitting should be done with YOUR ball of choice.

  11. Kevin Coombs, PGA

    Aug 14, 2020 at 12:08 am

    Properly fitted golf clubs reward and encourage the proper motion and give correct feedback for incorrect motion.

  12. DW

    Aug 13, 2020 at 6:40 pm

    Can’t help but notice that the covering picture is indeed the fitting studio of the one and only TXG at Toronto…

  13. Randy

    Aug 13, 2020 at 11:19 am

    FIRST TAKE SOME LESSONS!
    It don’t mean a thing if you don’t have a swing.

  14. JJ

    Aug 13, 2020 at 10:09 am

    Good fitter fits you for club length…bad fitter doesn’t. How many friends I have that got “fitted” but they never got fit for club length…especially in a driver fitting. I’ll just take my money and get lessons.

  15. JThunder

    Aug 13, 2020 at 1:02 am

    “Experience, communication skills, transparency, a focus on better, honesty and respect”
    “pushing an agenda, poor communication, lack of transparency, pressure sales tactics”

    Not just a list of good/bad for golf clubfitters, is it?

    Finding a good club fitter is similar to finding a good teaching pro. Some are objectively better than others; also important is finding the “right one for you”.

    You may have to try a couple before you find a good fit – if you’re serious about getting fit, think of it like a test drive or a serious medical condition; you likely won’t stop at one opinion. And once you find that fitter, stick with them. Just like a good doctor, understanding your patient can be as important as understanding the medicine.

    You can tinker on your own – but a really good clubfitter will gain more knowledge in a week that you will in a year, and it will be a costly year. You can also use WebMD to diagnose your own medical conditions.

  16. Karsten's Ghost

    Aug 12, 2020 at 5:47 pm

    For most people, your indoor swing is not your outdoor swing. Your turf interaction is not your plastic turf interaction.

    Hitting mats hide lie angle issues, promote loft, and bad balls promote spin. Cheap balls are not true flight…

    If a fitter starts with bad data, they will fit you to that bad data. It doesn’t mean they’re not trying, but unless they can accurately account for variances (v unlikely), you’ll get fitting data to be a fantastic driving range king.

    The worst part is you’ll go back to the range, everything will seem fine, and you’ll continue to guess at what you’re doing wrong on-course.

    • Doug

      Aug 14, 2020 at 10:33 am

      “Your indoor swing is not your outdoor swing?” Pure nonsense.

      I would submit that ideally an outdoor fitting is preferable to an indoor fitting only because of visual ball flight confirmation against computer generated flight info. But an indoor fitting is completely acceptable.

  17. juststeve

    Aug 12, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    I’m wondering if there is an objective standard by which to judge a fitter or the correctness of the particular fit recommended?

  18. TacklingDummy

    Aug 12, 2020 at 3:01 pm

    There is a couple of metrics that I don’t think get fit well by many fitters is shaft torque and clubhead shape for drivers. A good club fitter will fit torque well based on the swing, strength/weakness, the launch numbers, etc. Well fitted torque to a swing can improve accuracy a lot without much sacrifice in distance.

    Also, clubhead shape can have a substantial effect ball flight, controlling the face, and accuracy because of the different weighting. I think really good fitters know to fit a driver head shape and weighting that will fit a players swing. If a player has more/less face rotation in the swing and swing plane. Much like weighting of putters and the stroke (more face rotation-more toe hang, less face rotation-more face balanced putter).

    Many golf fitters of course want to sell product. I get that. However, the not so good ones I have been to really try to keep you focusing on the the best shot you hit, rather than the best groupings. Most manufacturers do the same because they push distance more than accuracy. Personally, I want the driver that give me a tighter dispersion without too much loss in distance, not the driver I hit 15 yards longer on 1/10 and had 3/10 off the map.

    While many good players can adapt to a driver, it is best to get one fit well to adapt the driver to the swing.

  19. A. Commoner

    Aug 12, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    Please!! Proof reader needed.

  20. SV

    Aug 12, 2020 at 1:55 pm

    Based on my experience a couple of years ago, there were a number of things missing. This was with a national fitting company. It seemed like a science experiment, try this, try that with no explanation. He kept emphasizing 1 or 2 mile per hour ball speed and better smash factor. The recommended driver didn’t carry as far and total distance was the same as my 6 year old driver. This was with a $200 upgrade shaft. Needless to say, I didn’t buy a new $800 driver.
    Fitting may be recommended, but based on my experience, I can go to a big box store and experiment on my own. My preference would be to try at an outdoor range, either golf course or driving range, where you can actually see what is happening. Hopefully they would have a launch monitor, but I don’t think it is necessary.

    • Stephen Hodge

      Aug 12, 2020 at 2:45 pm

      Seeing ball flight at a driving range means nothing. You’re hitting a driving range golf ball that has probably seen thousands of hits in its lifetime. You’re also hitting outside with variables, like wind and temperature. You are subconsciously making adjustments to your swing to see the ball flight you like. The ball flight you see on the range with range balls is never the flight you see on the course with premium golf balls. Your experience with the fitting you had should not cancel out the other fitters around you or in other areas.

      • tom

        Aug 12, 2020 at 3:05 pm

        Gotta be outside.. wh said anything about range balls? A GODD fitter will use pro v1s or a comparable ball. Mats are forgiving. Turf interaction is one the most important things when getting fit for irons.

        • JJ

          Aug 13, 2020 at 10:11 am

          Goes to range and gets fitted…swings out of shoes about 40 times and gets fitted for the club that makes the fitter the most money.

        • DW

          Aug 13, 2020 at 6:37 pm

          Unfortunately the combo of outdoor and premium ball fitter is not that common. One can argue that indoor fitting while using one’s own ball may be a good “compromise”

  21. Michele

    Aug 12, 2020 at 1:54 pm

    Where in Westchester ny or lower ct is a good club fitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Golf's Perfect Imperfections

The 19th Hole Episode 137: Hale Irwin Talks U.S. Open at Winged Foot then and now!

Published

on

3-time U.S. Open Champion and Hall of Famer Hale Irwin talks with host Michael Williams about why Winged Foot is perfect for the U.S. Open, his epic win there in 1974, and the differences in the course (and players) then and now.

Your Reaction?
  • 3
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

Podcasts

Gear Dive: Life chat with Sahith Theegala and first impressions of the Titleist TSi metal woods

Published

on

In this episode of TGD, Johnny has a nice heart-to-heart with PGA Tour Rookie and Fred Haskins Award winner Sahith Theegala and also offers a first impression on the new Titleist thunder sticks.

Your Reaction?
  • 3
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

Podcasts

TG2: My Vokey SM8 wedge experience

Published

on

My custom Vokey SM8 wedges are in and have been on the course for a few weeks now. I talk through the whole experience of starting with a Vokey fitting on a Titleist Thursday, custom ordering my wedges on the WedgeWorks website, and playing the wedges out on the course.

Your Reaction?
  • 5
  • LEGIT2
  • WOW0
  • LOL1
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK3

Continue Reading

WITB

Facebook

Trending