Head clubfitter Monica Stratton has fit more than 4,500 golfers over the past decade, so we asked her to explain some of the most commonly asked questions when working with new customers...
I'm not an advanced or competitive golfer, I just play for fun-- so why does it really matter if I have custom fit clubs?
MONICA: Sometimes I get new customers who admit they are new to the fitting process. They see our fit center with all sorts of clubs and shafts, and they go, "well what's the big deal?" I tell them: When you buy a new pair of shoes, do you look at a wall full of shoes and just pick a random pair, buy them and walk out the door? No-- sometimes you try on a pair of shoes and think, “I can’t even stand up straight, these are terribly uncomfortable, I can’t walk in these shoes, I'll try something else”. Golf clubs are the same. Every manufacturer may have a club that fits certain profiles--like a beginner club that’s easier to hit or an advanced club that helps shape shots. It's important to be in the right shaft weight, shaft length, grip size, etc. One of the biggest things is having the right set composition-- and making sure you don't end up with multiple clubs that achieve the same thing or leave gaps between distances.
"At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to how it feels for you. Do you feel comfortable? Do you feel confident at address? We’re going to make sure the numbers are right and working for you, but it’s still a team effort between me and you to find the best clubs."
But I’m a beginner, do I really need a whole set of custom fit clubs?
MONICA: Nope! A lot of people who are just starting the game don’t need 14 golf clubs--it’s too many choices. I fit a beginner the other day who just has nine clubs. You don’t have to buy the full set. I call them go-to clubs: if you’re just learning the game you should have a driver, fairway wood, hybrid and a couple irons, wedge and putter. Nine clubs will get you around the course—you can play very well with that many clubs. It also makes the investment much more reasonable and less overwhelming. Newer golfers aren’t going to have that consistent 10-yard gap between clubs, so they just need clubs they can feel confident with and enjoy hitting.
Aren’t clubs way more expensive if their custom fit?
MONICA: “Off the rack” clubs aren’t any cheaper, contrary to what many people think. All clubs a la carte—you don’t have to buy an entire set of irons at once like you did in the past. If you get a combo set, there’s a little bit of a price break, but if you just wanted to buy the even or odd numbers you can do that too.
What if my swing changes?
MONICA: When I fit someone for clubs, I look at whether they’re a beginner or if they are an intermediate golfer going through a swing change—I fit for the future. Since all our fitters are also instructors, we have the eye to determine where your consistencies are. I look at the highlight reel—okay that’s the best swing, that’s what they’re looking for moving forward and how did the club react to where the ball went? I look for the good swings and see where the ball goes and I fit off those. So your swing may change, but it’s still going to work with you—you’re not going to outgrow your clubs. We get you into clubs you can play for a long time.
How often do I need to change clubs?
MONICA: Drivers you can generally change every 2-3 years because the technology evolves so much-- there’s always more dramatic distance changes, which is always something people are attracted to. Fairway woods its probably 3-4 years and irons are every 5 years.
You can also gauge it by setting goals—“okay if I break 100 I get a new driver, if I break 90 I get new fairway woods. Rewarding yourself for all that practice and good play.
What’s the deal with smash factor, spin rate, clubhead speed, etc.—do I need to know about all of that?
MONICA: That’s what we’re here to help you with, that’s why you see the specialist to make sense of all the data the launch monitor gives us. For example, when I bought my first bike for iron-man competitions, I thought, wow, I know nothing about which bike is best for me, but the staff was very knowledgeable and helped me out. I put my trust in the staff and that’s how I bought it. It’s the same thing when people see this wall of clubs—it’s totally overwhelming and it’s a big investment, so you want to make sure you’re buying the right stuff. We have all the numbers when we watch you hit it. And above all it’s a team decision, I’m going to get your launch angle, back spin, how far you carry, how far it rolls out, but at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to how it feels for you. Do you feel comfortable? Do you feel confident at address? We’re going to make sure the numbers are right and working for you, but it’s still a team effort between me and you to find the best clubs.