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The Increased Commercialization of Club Fitting Ruined Club Fitting


IC3BURGH
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You raise a great point. I wouldn’t say the art of fitting is dead - it just continues to be niche but is now overshadowed by the bigger operations. I don’t think people who were seeking out great fitters in the past are leaving them behind now, it’s customers that wouldn’t have sought out fitting in the past.  
 

Like everything else, the educated consumer is in the minority. Most people look at fitting as binary - your clubs are either “fit” or they aren’t. So it becomes a race to the bottom where you have some adjustable head/shaft combos, let the person hit a buckets worth of balls, then show them the dispersion circles from the launch monitor and say the “data” says this is your best option. 
 

 

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I suppose my original post is probably a bit cynical. The growth is better than nothing. The availability of tools and access to information will only grow. While the percentage of great fitters may remain low, the absolute number will increase. 
 

But oh my are there some snake oil salesmen out there right now…

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I am fortunate that my instructor friend has a full Mizuno cart, which is good, as I am a Mizuno fan-boy.  So when I rent a bay for an hour, I can mix and match heads & shafts to my hearts content and see the results on a GC-Quad.   I also don't have to marry the head/shaft combo on the first date, and can repeatedly re-evaluate my preferred combo, over a many week/month period, before placing an order.  I am one who does understand my launch numbers, some may not.  I previously went down the road of seeking distance at the sake of too low spin, but now realize I need more spin.  Chasing distance can be such a bad temptation.

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I started playing golf in 2019. Was playing with a set of TM speed blades that had 85g regular flex shafts, they were 1/2” over standard. I hit some clubs well, some aweful. My putter and driver and so on were similar mix of hand me down stuff. 
 

i knew nothing. 
 

went to club champion in November of 2020 for my “free fitting”. Did the whole bag. Ended up buying a driver and was going to order a set of irons, but had to wait, the irons were out of stock because all the new stuff was coming out. Then had to go back in January of 2020 to get refit for irons. I of course was sold the upngrwsrd aerotech shafts and all that jazz… I did it all. 
 

It was a huge help, I dropped my handicap from a 20 to 9. A lot was lesson, but the proper equipment was a game changer. 
 

as my skill improved, swing speed on a driver went from 90 to 107 mph, I needed new gear again. But now knew so much more. I was looking to move from GI irons to player irons. 
 

this time I wanted to get it right, went to three fitters. Had a free fitting at CC. Went to my golf pro, he is a top 100 instructor and regional titelist fitter. Then went to a top 100 fitter and club builder. 
 

Each fitter out my in 110g shafts. But one fitted me for Steelfiber, one KBS and one project X. Ok…. 
 

The CC guy tell me I need to stick with GI clubs and should keep my current irons. He said I wasn’t good enough for player distance irons. I gave up a sale and I respect that. 
 

the titelist guys fits me into T100s. something was off… just don’t like the feel…. I have now realized I am a big feel player. 
 

the other fitter callaway XFCB ‘21.I hit the 7 iron great, but don’t get along with the offset in the short irons. 
 

today I game new level PF1/PF2 with KBS tour V or C-Taper lite shafts. Also okay some 120g shafts here and there. have shot some amazing rounds. With these and flittered with  breaking par. They don’t even make thee heads anymore. 
 

other gamers are Wilson Staff CB. scored something like 6 birdies if. 3 rounds with these puppies the other week. 
 

another favorite set is the Bridgestone J40DPC.  No fitter is going to put you in those…. 
 

No fitter found these irons. I found them trialing over 20 sets of irons off WRX this spring.

 

i also fitted my driver, Epic Max LS with 44.5” CK Pro Blue 7 TX driver, with 5 G added to head. Trialed 22 different shafts. Sat on a king par 5 at my home course in March and tee’d it up. 

 

Didn’t put one set on a launch monitor. Went onto the course and knew what flight and feel l characteristics I was looking for. 
 

most importantly - my misses were manageable with this whole set up. Getting clubs that fit is about better misses.  It an ideal smash factor or hitting the ball further. 
 

Fitters are great and can truly help people who need guidance. But they are there to sell you something too. They get fixated on smash factor and spin and launch angles. It’s all noise. What set gives you the best misses….. and this is different for everyone. 

 

i am fishing that I have more knowledge than most of the fitters I talk to today. It’s not Thet I am smarter…. I have just tried equipment that many of them carry. I have also tried compete sets. And in today’s world of flow sets, it’s thought to fit irons with just a 6 or 7 heads. 
 

Btw- I have had more fun doing this than any fitting experience…. But you do you. This is just me doing me. 

 

 

 


 

 

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You can trace the rise of fitting to the increase of on-line sales and the corresponding decrease of in-store sales. When you can't make as much selling cubs as you used to you find other ways to make money. Fitting is one of them. I've never done a fitting, probably never will. After 49 years of playing I know what works for me, and more important, what doesn't.

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I would think for a better or knowledgeable player,  they are going to be their own best fitter.  

 

I feel for fitters in that they don't get to see long term results in general.  They get to see a limited number of swings in a controlled environment. Couple that with seeing a lot of folks without consistent swings, and that all becomes a difficult task.  

 

I order clubs with the lie and length that I am certain will work for me.   Then i just observe ball flight in actual rounds over time and lead tape to taste.  Once I know it is right, then I will go to a more permanent solution (tungsten powder, etc) if possible to clean up appearances.  

 

Using a tool like garmin or arccos will track over time a lot of tendencies.  Valuable info for this purpose.

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You're not wrong. But, in the broader context of golf, the core market factor is the same as it's been for decades. Which is selling amateurs on the idea of improvement via the latest and greatest. Golfers are some of the easiest people in the world to separate from their money. 

 

The reality is, if you look at handicaps over the past 10+ years, the evidence for improvement is negligible. And certainly not enough that you can point to clubs and fittings as being the primary driving force. 

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6 hours ago, IC3BURGH said:

Perhaps the subject of my thread is a bit hyperbolic, but it seems that the true art of fitting is either dead or taken a backseat as many high profile companies choose growth over product quality. Am I off? And if I'm not, who are the real fitters out there still?

 

I think great/real fitters still exist, and I might make the argument that there are actually more of them, but it is harder to find them now. Of course, my real-world experience is limited to the last 4-5 years. But this is what I imagine it was like...

 

Previously, being a fitter was a labor of dedication and passion. It was such a niche career path and requires a unique combination of skills and knowledge: shaft and head matrices, golf swing tendencies and flaws, how those interact and accentuate the good while minimizing the bad, translating "feels" into data, and all mostly while using eyeballs as their launch monitor. In the US, maybe we can assume 3-5 of these real fitters existed per state on average, so something like 200 in the US.

 

Fast forward to 2022: these days, with advanced launch monitors more readily available, high speed cameras that fit in your pocket, and the internet, it is much easier to offer even basic fitting services. Simple guidelines regarding swingspeed, flex, scales of forgiveness, etc to lend a hand. Golf also became much more popular. Nearly every Dick's Sporting Goods offers basic fitting services with a launch monitor, a hitting mat, and a net in most stores. We also had a huge surge in golf's popularity over the last 20 years. Tiger Woods led the first major surge, the pandemic led the most recent surge. Everyone is a keyboard expert now and the game has changed drastically and equipment has followed suit in the distance and forgiveness races.

 

I think today: there are MORE fitters overall, but the quality pool has been severely diluted. With all the data available now, I think there are actually more real fitters out there, but I also believe that finding them is a different sort of challenge. I have run through six fitters as I have gotten more serious about golf and my equipment. A Mizuno rep worked magic with my irons without ever pulling out a Trackman, and when I asked him to pull it out, the numbers proved his eye was good. A fitter at Austads was decent enough for a beginner, but I definitely knew more than him, same story for a fitter at my local Golf Galaxy/Dicks. A fitter at my local shop was brilliant but he was constrained by the fitting matrix. He did offer useful swing advice and the number of a coach which was far more productive than a new driver. I have had two fittings at Club Champion, the first fitter was worse than poor, the second fitter worked miracles.

 

In the end, I have a 50% hit rate for me and my knowledge/skill level. If I were a beginner, I would say 5/6 would do well enough, and if I were much more advanced, probably only one would be good enough. So I would say you're not wrong, but you're not quite right either.

 

 

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Good fitters are like finding a diamond in the rough.  Tough to come by and a dying breed so to speak.  I've been fit for my clubs since 2008, and the best ones seem to be single to + cap golfers who have extensive knowledge of the swing, can read numbers and optimize them but at the same time, know that the small nuances such as length, lie, loft, swing weight, flex, feel, etc. are all important to a great fitting. 

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I don't think there are bad fitters, just bad models: if you have less time, less training you are not being set up to succeed in what I think experienced golfers feel is a true fitting. If you get in the ballpark, that may satisfy a lot of your customers but people that are looking for a deeper experience need to find the right fit (yuk yuk) of a professional.

 

With customers, sometimes you have people who are stuck on an idea and you have to roll with it. I fancy myself a golf nerd (engineer by trade) and I am amazed at how myopic some of my club golfer friends are when they go to CC or other places to get 'fitted'. The customers in this case are stuck on some antiquated ideas about flex or loft and cannot be moved from there. 

 

Perhaps if I order up a CC shirt and wear some khaki's they will take my advice then? 

 

I am heading to a fitter in July to play with driver shafts and maybe a head or two. I have fun when they just hand me stuff and we look at the data later 🙂

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Interesting topic. 

 

At least to me I believe there are so many quick certification programs to become a "fitter". These while great for some product knowledge and basics don't give the whole picture of how to fit. 

Good fitters in my opinion have experience with not only clubs and the make up of clubs (shafts, grips etc) but also have experience with swings and a good understanding of mechanics which aid in the fitting process. 

 

I have gone to enough big box stores and are more yup number look good this will do type fit and other smaller shops which have a more in depth about the game, clubs, swings and how to best support the golfer during the fit. Not just in why Club A works better then Club B, but also what swing flaws or characteristics are causing those changes. 

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11 hours ago, third-times-a-charm said:

Yep pretty much. It’s the lowest common denominator now. High volume business models.

 

if I had the option of renting a bay for an hour in one of those fitters and they just let me do whatever I wanted to - I would do that over someone telling me stuff.

 

This is me when im in any golf store or big fitter:


employee condescending GIF

 

Couldnt have said it any better…. If they would just give me 45 mins to hit & do what i want, i’d be much better off.  Id pay extra for that.  1 hour & let me do whatever the hell i want.  I’ll pay for that

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There has always been a good mix of good fitters and bad fitters.   But as public awareness of "fitting" has increased, it's become a marketing tool and then everyone has to get into the game.  Unfortunately that's caused the market to be flooded with many more poorly trained or untrained "fitters".    In most cases they consist of sales people who just decided to change their title without really earning it.

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I’ve been fortunate to have had access to really, really good club fitters for many years now; 4 different guys in 4 pretty different business models.  Each passionate about their craft, each highly knowledgeable and experienced, and, perhaps most importantly, none of them were financially dependent on whether or not I bought clubs from them, though I always did when there was a clear improvement to be had.  It’s been at least 25 years since I’ve had anything in the bag that I wasn’t “fitted” for, though that process has varied a bit.  And now with the abity to change shaft and head combos on Trackman, the experience and results just keeps improving.

 

But I’ve seen it done horribly poorly, too.  There are guys at big box stores that just don’t know much about what they are (or should) be doing, and in some cases, don’t know how to use their own store’s software.  I’ve never been to Club Champion or any of the other similar companies, but I just can’t imagine paying some of the dollar figures I see here for the process they offer.

 

I can’t imagine NOT doing some degree of fitting before I dropped big bucks on a club purchase, but even more so because I REALLY care how I play.  But I’m also well aware that as club fitting has grown exponentially, the relative number of bad experiences has grown with it.  Which is a pity. 

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Fitting and golf equipment is so nuanced that I guess you really cant have the expectation that it'll be done tour-level experience at the retail consumer level. A big box store, being the worst, will inherently be the most basic even with one of the 'special' fittings. They only have what the OEMs send them, no shaft wall or etc.

 

Next is big fitters like TS or CC and theyll have the shaft wall, but will have limited lengths and still the knowledge is hit or miss. They will also have hidden agendas like which shafts they want to sell that month like an Accra or etc promo which is common with CC, or even their own 'store brands'.

 

Third is probably the best option for users of this forum - which is the small independent fitter that's been vetted by others as really good with their knowledge. But there is a dropoff here as they probably wont have the inventory of the larger operations like CC or TS.

 

So we end up running in circles and asking ourselves what do we do? It's a tough spot to be in if you're that kind of person that chases the unique equipment perfection that's available to us in golf.

 

How do you find a fitter with not only 45.5" shafts but also 44.75" to try? How do you find a fitter that will SW clubs for you and have you try D5 and D0? How do you find a fitter that will swap out grips for you to try a midsize or a standard? How do you find a fitter that knows that longer clubs will have a more upright lie? Fitters that know the difference in all the hosel adapters from all the brands for woods and how they effect start line and spin and launch and etc? A fitter that knows difference in shaft profiles on the fly? A fitter that knows when to change a shaft and when to change the head or head settings to get what you need?

 

I guess that's why (non-tour) people pay $700/hr for Ian @ TXG because unless you read this forum for 6 hours a day (guilty) and teach yourself - that person is a unicorn and you have to settle for less.

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Still a lot of great fitters out there, we rely on them here at Wishon to be our customers. I don't get to do much in the way of fitting these days but when I did the Dynacraft DSFI was my bible. It's great that technology has moved on but you still need the experience of the fitter to bring it all together and not totally rely on the technology.

 

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I suspect the biggest disconnect in "fitting" is that folks expect the Saville Row custom suit fitting while walking into Jos. A. Bank and having the pants hemmed and the sleeves shortened.

 

If you are of 'normal' build and are looking for 'normal' daily business attire, the Jos A. Bank approach is likely to work just fine.  If you're not, it will be better than nothing but despite the fact you'll send it to the 'tailor' before taking it home, it still may not truly fit (a bit baggy in some areas, a bit snug in others...) or be the exact color/weight/cut you desire.

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18 hours ago, third-times-a-charm said:

Yep pretty much. It’s the lowest common denominator now. High volume business models.

 

if I had the option of renting a bay for an hour in one of those fitters and they just let me do whatever I wanted to - I would do that over someone telling me stuff.

 

This is me when im in any golf store or big fitter:


employee condescending GIF

 

 

/thread

 

 

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18 hours ago, third-times-a-charm said:

Yep pretty much. It’s the lowest common denominator now. High volume business models.

 

if I had the option of renting a bay for an hour in one of those fitters and they just let me do whatever I wanted to - I would do that over someone telling me stuff.

 

This is me when im in any golf store or big fitter:


employee condescending GIF

 

TTAC has that big johnson energy when he’s walking through a PGASS! 

😂 

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16 hours ago, SE Gamer said:

You're not wrong. But, in the broader context of golf, the core market factor is the same as it's been for decades. Which is selling amateurs on the idea of improvement via the latest and greatest. Golfers are some of the easiest people in the world to separate from their money. 

 

The reality is, if you look at handicaps over the past 10+ years, the evidence for improvement is negligible. And certainly not enough that you can point to clubs and fittings as being the primary driving force. 

The golf business sells hope........

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