Golf Club Fitting Review – Learn What Is Involved
When I first started golfing in the mid-1990s, getting fitted for clubs was not what it is today. I don’t think I started to hear the term “club fitting” until the last decade. A custom fitting for golf clubs is now a very personalized experience becoming more popular even with amateurs and recreational golfers, not just the pros.
This year, I was in the market for a new set of golf clubs and thought it would be a good idea to get a custom fitting with a professional club fitter.
Just so you know my background or my perspective, I have been playing for over 25 years. These days I golf for fun socially as well as in a few competitive leagues at my club and in my region. I am a mid handicapper, am constantly trying to improve my golf game, and may start to play in golf tournaments around my state.
One area that I hadn’t really focused on yet were the golf clubs in my bag, and I know I needed to given all the new technology.
My bag was comprised of a very mixed set of clubs that I had picked up over the years.
Anything that I liked, went in the bag. Anything I didn’t, went out. The current bag included everything from a Callaway driver, Cobra fairway woods, Callaway and Cobra hybrids, Nike irons, and wedges from Nike, Titleist, and Cleveland.
I knew these clubs very well and became very comfortable and attached to them over the years. I have not wanted to part ways because of this.
However, it was time for an upgrade.
I just needed to find the right clubs that would still feel comfortable and enhance my game.
Finding a Club Fitter
After doing a little research and asking around, I found a Master Club Fitter in my area. Jonathan Almeida, Director of Club Fitting with Harmon Golf in Rockland, MA. Harmon Golf is a facility that is well known for its high level focus on golf instruction and training.
Besides being an expert in his field and having years of experience fitting clubs for golfers, Jonathan has the distinction of being listed as a Golf Digest Top 100 Best Clubfitter in America.
To get the best fitting possible, I wanted to do this the right way and go with a highly regarded club fitter.
Scheduling The Club Fitting
Upon calling the facility, they inquired as to which clubs I was looking to replace. Was I looking at a specific club, a half bag or full bag?
I was looking for a full bag replacement but was open to keeping any clubs that were still in good shape and working well. I actually made it a point that I would keep a very open mind and not mention any of my biases with one club or brand.
For a full bag fitting, I was told it may take a good 2 hours. However, instead of scheduling a 2-hour session right away, they suggested it was best to start with a 1-hour session first and see where things were afterward.
Of course, my initial thought was “why not just schedule the full fitting in one session?”. It seemed strange they would want me to come back for multiple sessions instead of doing the whole fitting in one take.
Apparently, hitting balls over and over again in a club fitting can get tiring after an hour or so.
Note: They were right. When you schedule your club fitting, anything over 1 – 1.5 hours can get pretty tiring. The main reason is that you want to be fresh during the fitting. After about an hour and twenty minutes, my shots became sloppier and a bit erratic. I knew it was time to call it a day.
Golf Club Fitting Cost
The cost of a fitting will vary based on where you live. Some charge based on the session, some charge based on the number of clubs you’re looking to replace, and some charge by the hour. If you visit a golf store, many of these offer free fittings where you can test out clubs and get a fitting from one of reps. Fittings definitely vary widely depending on what you are looking for.
Golf Club Fitting Process
For the club fitting, I brought in my current set of golf clubs so they could assess what I was using. It was December and I was curious where we would be performing the fitting. I assumed it would be on an indoor simulator. But actually, it was in a largely enclosed room with 3 walls and open to the outside practice range (what they call “open-air”). With the heaters on, I was very comfortable without a coat.
We first did an assessment on what my goals were for the fitting as well as my golf game and whether I had any issues or concerns.
Personally, my goal was to pick up some distance and improve accuracy with new clubs.
After this, we talked about my current set of clubs and then started a light warm up with a few comfortable short irons.
We started with the driver. And that’s when it got really fun. He had me hit some shots with my current driver and then gave me many different drivers and variations. He was switching out and changing different brands of clubheads, shaft lengths, shaft flexes, weights, shaft angles, grips, and loft. I was surprised at all the different variables and options that can be customized in a fitting.
Interesting too was that though I liked the feel of a heavier club head, it actually didn’t make my drives any longer based on the weight.
We talked a lot about driver loft. The loft on my current driver was fairly high and I always wondered if it was too high. Factor in even more loft because when I set up to the driver, I lean to the right so that I am hitting up on the ball.
I had read that a higher loft was easier to hit and good for creating more distance for slower swing speeds. This is correct to a point, but if your golf balls are going too high, you are losing distance up in the air. He helped me find the best loft with the right driver to maximize my distance.
I ended up with a driver that was 3.5 degrees lower than my current driver! You have to be careful with this though because you really want more carry in the air versus roll, especially on damp or wet fairways.
Using a Trackman or launch monitor on all my shots, we looked at the spin rate, launch angle, swing speed, apex, and many other numbers. I was shown how they all factored in together to find the best clubs customized to my swing.
The best driver for my swing was a senior men’s shaft for flex, a little shorter in length as I am 5’6″ tall. The club shaft felt more solid and a little stiffer than the lighter women’s club. The woman’s shaft was a little too light for my swing speed and had to catch up in the transition from the backswing.
Fairway Woods Fitting
I was excited to test out fairway woods. The Cobras I had were from the early 2000’s, which meant that yes, they were almost 20 years old. I loved them because I was comfortable hitting them and didn’t want to change for fear of not being able to hit them well, especially the 3 wood.
We talked a lot about the 3 wood and the purpose it will serve me. Too funny because as some of you also may experience, this club is my hardest club to hit consistently. Sometimes it’s good, many times not so good. But when it’s good, it gives me that added distance I need.
I tried out many different options. Again tweaking and changing out shaft flexes, club heads, and varying degrees of loft. After several different clubs, I connected extremely well and consistently with one particular 3 wood. It felt great hitting it and low and behold, I was able to get it up in the air with an amazing amount of loft and distance.
I fell in love with this club. Of course, I started dreaming of what I could do with it once out on the course…
Ok, getting too far ahead of myself. However, I was happy we found a 3 wood that I could hit well. I had the same result from the 5 wood – same brand.
We stopped the fitting at this point as I was getting tired. After about 1 hour and 15 minutes, my shots were getting sloppy and I wasn’t as fresh as when I started. And when you are looking at stats and numbers and using this to analyze, it was best to stop.
We scheduled the second session to work on irons.
The second session of the club fitting focused on irons. Though I carry about the same number of hybrids, we decided to focus on the irons first. I only carry an 8i and 9i, and 3 different wedges.
We tested 5 different iron brands with varying options again. I ended up with a 7i, 8i, 9i, pitching wedge, and gap wedge. I added the 7 iron because surprisingly, I hit it well and found that it gave me 20 additional yards than my current 7 hybrid.
Yes, I was shocked. This might be a game changer as I had somewhat given up on using mid irons, instead opting for hybrids. Now, I’ll have to think about whether to add a 6 iron as well and drop the 6 hybrid.
Happy With My New Setup
I am now very happy with my current bag setup. I have 8 new clubs that each give me about 15 – 20 yards more in distance than my previous clubs. I have gone out and played a few times with the new clubs and am still enjoying the distance and feel of these clubs.
I will likely return in a few months to assess my hybrids (6h, 5h, 4h) and check on the gapping that might be missing. Gapping refers to the yardages hit between clubs. In my case, I need to find clubs that cover the gapping between my new 7 iron and 5 wood.
I will look at adding a 6 iron or 6 hybrid and then try out different 5 and 4 hybrids (or keep the ones I currently have).
Takeaways From My Custom Fitting
Here are some great takeaways I liked about this particular club fitting and things to consider when selecting a club fitter.
- I had many questions and Jonathan was patient in taking the time to answer them all.
- We tried many different options, changing out anything that might make a difference – varying shafts, weighting, club heads, angles and lofts.
- There was no bias towards one particular brand.
- There was no hard sell on anything.
- We had a very engaging dialogue mostly where he asked me a lot of questions about how I liked the feel, the look, the distance I was getting, the accuracy, and then we would look at the stats together.
- We used brand new premium ProV1 golf balls to see how I would hit them with the selected clubs. After striking a few balls, I maxed out with a few of my personal bests in distance and accuracy.
- The hitting area was covered, heated, and in an enclosed room, yet I was hitting out into an open air driving range. Jonathan stressed “the importance of seeing ball flight while getting fit, especially for better players”.
- All the analysis was done using a high-end Trackman monitor.
I was very happy with my club fitting experience and recommend it for anyone looking to upgrade their clubs and improve their game. There is so much new technology and customization out there that it just makes sense.
Find a Club Fitter Near You
I hope this helps you in knowing what to expect and what to look for if you are thinking about getting a club fitting.
If you are in the Boston, Massachusetts, or New England area, it may be worth it to schedule some time with Jonathan Almeida at Harmon Golf. It was an amazing experience. His motto is, “a good club fitter is all about getting players into the correct fit and making them better players”. That seems apparent in what drives him and his colleagues at Harmon Golf.
If you are interested in getting a club fitting, be sure to ask around for a referral. Finding the right individual can make the fitting a valuable and worthwhile experience – one that is customized to you. Here’s a list of the Club Fitters in the US recommended by Golf Digest Top 100 List. Good luck!