Is custom fitting worth it?

Is custom fitting worth it: introduction

In a word yes. Even if you are of average height with average swing speed and have average-length arms then custom fitting can still be worth it. Even if only to give you confidence in the clubs you already have.

Should you be outside the average that golf club manufacturers work to then it is even more important to be custom fit for your golf clubs.

The days of custom fitting only being applicable to tour players are long gone. No matter what your ability level you should see some benefit from custom fitting. The only question is whether you think the cost is justified.

If you have a size 9 foot would you wear a size 8 shoe? You might but it could end up being painful!

What is custom fitting?

It is a process whereby the golf clubs are tailored to suit your particular golf swing and physical attributes.

Custom fitting process

A proper custom fitting experience would involve a number of stages.

Initial Discussion

The fitter should be asking you what type of ball flight you currently have and what type do you want. They should also be asking if you have any regular misses. How far do you hit your current clubs? Do you have any physical limitations, for example, if you suffer from arthritis then he may well recommend thicker grips.

Static fitting

During a static fitting, a number of measurements would be taken including your height, wrist to floor distance, hand and finger size. The hand and finger size will determine the size of grip that suits you best. Your height and wrist to floor measurement will help to determine the best combination of length and lie.

While a static fitting is an important part of the process you would definitely want a dynamic fitting as well.

If you can’t outplay them, outwork them.

Ben Hogan

Dynamic fitting

In a dynamic fitting, you would hit a variety of different clubs with different lies and lengths to try to find the best option to suit your game. The static fitting will give a good starting point for an experienced fitter. However, until you’ve actually hit clubs built to the correct specification you would never know whether they are right for you.

If you are being fitted for a set of irons then you are likely to hit a number of shots from an impact board with tape on the sole of the club. This is to confirm that the static measurements for lie and length were correct. If the tape shows you have a tendency to hit more towards the toe or the heel then the fitter would adjust the lie accordingly. Once you are striking towards the center of the face the fitter would move on to other aspects of the club.

Similarly, if you are being fit for woods, impact tape will be placed on the face to find the correct lie to suit your stance and swing.

A dynamic fitting would look at different shafts and head designs to maximize whichever side of your game you are trying to improve. That might be distance or accuracy or a combination of both.

Your particular swing may benefit from a driver with more or less loft than you currently use. The shaft flex in your clubs could be too stiff making it difficult for you to square the club face at impact. 

You might be able to increase your swing speed slightly by using a lighter shaft. If you tend to hit your shots with too much spin and height then a shaft with a higher kick point might prove beneficial. This will reduce the spin and height you are able to achieve giving you a more penetrating flight.

If you have had your current irons for a while then you may find that the lies have changed somewhat during play. It’s also not uncommon to find your irons don’t have the correct gaps between each club. This means you are hitting two clubs pretty much the same distance so it is effectively a waste of a club in your bag. The fitter may also be able to show you that your clubhead speed isn’t really sufficient to hit that 3-iron that you’re still carrying. You may find a #3 hybrid is a better bet.

Is custom fitting worth it

Free Fitting

If it’s free, is it going to be worthwhile? It really depends on the place that you have the fitting and sometimes even on the member of staff who does it.

The golf store might let you take two or three drivers for example to find one with a shaft that suits you. They may not have any launch monitors for you to see the data on each club. It’ll just be up to you and how you feel on the day. You might have a member of staff who doesn’t know much about custom fitting. They may be close to the end of their shift and so rush you through the process as quickly as possible and you don’t reap the benefit. 

By contrast, an experienced fitter would go through the basic static fitting to give them an idea of the sort of lengths and lies that would suit you.

They would hopefully have a wide range of heads and shafts that you could then try either on a launch monitor in a simulator. Even better if they have a driving range with the ability to use a launch monitor as well.

By trying out different combinations of head and shaft they can pinpoint one or two suggestions to improve your accuracy and/or distance.

The amount of effort and time that the outlet will put into a free fitting will vary. If you happen to be close to the averages that manufacturers build clubs for then one of these free fittings may prove adequate to you.

A bad attitude is worse than a bad swing.

Payne Stewart

Demo Days

Most of the big manufacturers will run a number of demo days through the summer where you can test out their latest equipment. Often with expert fitters on hand to help you get the best club for your game. If you’re really lucky then the host venue will also be offering some form of discounts on that manufacturer’s clubs purchased on the day.

Some larger retailers will organize demo days involving several manufacturers. You can compare a wider range of clubs before making a purchasing decision.

The inevitable downside of trying to get fit at a demo day is that you are unlikely to see the level of personal attention you would with a paid fitting. At most demo days I’ve attended, even where you can pre-book an appointment you are only going to get 10 to 15 minutes of the fitter’s time. This is probably okay if you are only in the market for a single club or if you already have a fair idea of the specifications that suit your game.

All the major manufacturers now offer a wide variety of shafts.

Finding the correct shaft is arguably the most important part of the fitting process. Demo days will provide an ideal opportunity for you to try different shafts at no cost.

Well used clubs

Paid fitting

Independent fitters in particular will probably want to charge you for a fitting session. Either that or you would need to commit to purchasing clubs in advance.

Obviously, a paid fitting is going to be a much more in-depth experience than a free one. An independent fitter will offer clubs other than the usual suspects from Ping, Titleist, Callaway or TaylorMade. They may also have access to more exotic shaft models which the mainstream manufacturers may not include.

Custom Fitting Costs

Here are the costs of various fitting options by one independent specialist in the UK.

Fitting Type Time taken (hours) Cost £ Cost $ 
Whole Bag 3  300 411 
Driver 1.5 125 172 
Woods (driver, fairway, hybrid) 175 240 
Fairway wood 1.5 100 137 
Irons 175 240 
Wedges 85 117 
Putter 1.25 125 172 

And just to compare here are some similar services from another fitting specialist based in California.

Fitting Type Time taken (hours) Cost $ 
Whole Bag 3.5  350 
Long Game 2.5  200 
Driver   1.5  150 
Fairway wood/Hybrid 1  100 
Irons 1.5  150 
Wedge 1  80 
Putter 1  100 

Fitting Center

Many of the Premium manufacturers now have custom fitting centers in their major markets.

This would be the equivalent of buying a suit from Savile Row. Undoubtedly it will prove to be expensive but if you are really serious about your golf then it is likely to be a price worth paying.

Ping

For UK-based players, the ultimate Ping fitting experience can be had at their state-of-the-art fitting center near the headquarters of Ping Europe. Thonock Park in Lincolnshire is home to two 18-hole courses and is owned by Ping. The fitting center is home to 3 fitting bays with TrackMan launch monitors. The fitting technicians have access to a range of interchangeable heads, weights and shafts. They also use the iPing app to perform a putter fitting. Getting fit for a putter is often overlooked, mistakenly.

Callaway

Due to Covid, Callaway’s UK Performance Center is currently closed. Interestingly they don’t do fittings for wedges and putters. Seems a little odd given they are one of the most famous putter brands on the planet. You can book an appointment for free but only through a local retailer. 

If you want to go to Callaway headquarters in Carlsbad, California then it looks like a fitting will cost you $150. Although some of that will be credited towards the purchase of clubs.

TaylorMade

TaylorMade has 4 performance centers in the UK and a further 3 based in Europe. In the US you can choose from 3 different levels of fitting expertise, premier, certified or core.

Titleist

I quite like the look of the Titleist Performance Institute, in Oceanside California. You are going to get a similar sort of experience to their tour players. Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of flying so will have to make do with the custom fitting options available in the UK!

Benefits of a fitting

One of the biggest benefits will be the confidence boost knowing that the clubs have been designed to suit your swing.

Having the correct equipment should lead to greater enjoyment and lower scores.

Driving range mat

Conclusion

Do your game a favor. Get yourself custom fit to make sure your clubs are helping rather than hindering your game.

A set of custom-fitted golf clubs could help you to get your handicap down and increase your enjoyment of the game.

Indeed, considering the cost of clubs these days it would be almost criminal if you didn’t get them fit.

Even if you are unable to justify paying to have your whole set custom fit you should at least try to take advantage of any free fitting options that manufacturers or retailers are offering.

Don’t assume that a custom fit session will sort out all your golfing problems though. If you have fundamental swing flaws then you would probably be better served by spending some money on a few lessons to sort those issues out first.

FAQ

I’m new to golf. Should I bother with custom fitting?

To many new golfers custom fitting might seem a little pointless as you don’t believe you are consistent enough. I would argue that if you want to make the most of your abilities then you should be thinking about getting custom fit as early as possible. If you start by using clubs that are totally ill-suited to you then you might be making the game even more difficult for yourself.

A classic example would be a junior or lady golfers trying to learn to play using cast-off men’s clubs. Such clubs are almost certain to be too heavy for them and likely to also have grips that are too thick. Both of these issues are likely to cause a number of swing faults.

Should a high handicapper get fitted?

Again, you may be leaving shots out on the course due to poorly fitted clubs. Even though you think you may not be sufficiently consistent to justify a club fitting. The wrong sort of clubs could be causing all sorts of problems in your golf game.

I’m not suggesting that a 36-handicap player should be paying $300 for a fitting but they should at least get their clubs checked for some of the basics. Grip size, shaft length, shaft weight, shaft flex, length and lie. While many golfers can learn to adapt their swing to ill-fitting clubs it makes more sense to get the clubs to fit the player.

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