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The right fit(ting)
I wasn’t planning on going through a fitting. Therefore, this blog is a bit of an accident. A happy accident, as an artist may say.
While recently reviewing the new Callaway Big Bertha Driver, a 2nd Swing Golf master fitter (That’s what expertly trained, certified and experienced golf fitters are called.) asked how I was liking the club. While that club wasn’t for me, and the fitter winced and clearly confirmed his gut instinct by examining the data about the club on the hitting test bay’s flight monitor and other computer software.
Then, he snatched up another driver, stuck it in my hand and told me to “try this.”
The back and forth between the fitter and I carried on until I was gassed. Before I left, he asked if I’d ever been fitted before, and if not, that I should consider it. That’s all I needed to hear.
I couldn’t get the thought out of my head for the next three weeks. Such is the torture of the golf enthusiast forever on a quest for game improvement. If you have never been custom fit for a club before, I can now highly encourage it.
Getting on the Calendar
It could not be easier. First off, a lot can be accomplished online or over the phone with 2nd Swing Golf. The staff can get you comfortable with what otherwise might be an intimidating process for some/many golfers, particularly if it involves hitting in front of others in a store.
Online and over the phone, real-life golf experts will take a series of physical measurements and discuss with you your golfing needs to try their best to find the right clubs for what you are trying to accomplish on the course. Getting into a store really helps, though.
This is what 2nd Swing has to say about the importance of the process:
“Golf clubs are made to fit a majority of the population based on height, strength, athletic ability and swing characteristics. Height might be the only one that you can use as a starting point, but strength and athletic ability are characteristics that cannot be considered standard for anyone.
“Your swing is unique to you and you only, which is why getting fit is essential to playing better golf. Using clubs that are not fit for you can be the difference in hitting a green or fairway in regulation versus missing left and being buried in the rough. Being fit gives you peace of mind that you can make your normal swing and the ball will do what you want it to.
“Golf is a game that is almost impossible to master, but if you are fit for your clubs you will increase your chances of playing to the best of your ability.”
2nd Swing also has an easy-to-use online scheduling process that you can access from its website’s home page. You can schedule a fitting — or a club consultation — for either store in Minneapolis or Minnetonka, Minn. With just a bit of advance planning, you’ll have plenty of available time slots. There are multiple qualified fitters on staff. If you happen to know who you want to work with, the website allows you to schedule time directly with that person. If you’re unsure, full biographies are available to help you make your choice.
In my case, I simply planned to show up on a Sunday, when the doors opened, and get right to work with whomever was available. The fitting center was available, and master fitter Scott Johnson (also the Minnetonka store’s general manager) was able to help me out.
The Fitting Process
Unbeknownst to me, a driver is not the only club for which you can be fit. That’s great. I was looking for a new driver as well as trying to find a fairway wood or strong hybrid to add to the bag. 2nd Swing offers fairway and hybrid, iron, wedge and putter fittings.
You also can be fit for various makers: Ping, TaylorMade, Cobra, Titleist, Callaway, Mizuno. If a new TaylorMade or Titleist is what you have your mind set on, you can be fitted for just the right model, loft, shaft and other tweaks. As long as you walk out with a club, the fitting itself is complimentary.
2nd Swing has multiple private fitting bays. Cloaked in black screens, spot lighting, and with large screen monitors and simulator screen you feel like you are walking into something befitting a tour pro. For the club junkie, the multiple shafts and heads neatly organized is just short of nirvana.
Hitting five balls at a time was how the fitter wanted us to start. We hit multiple versions of TaylorMade’s new SLDRs (loft up!) to start — the 430 and 460. Throughout the fitting process, ball speed, launch angle, spin rate, landing angle and carry distance were monitored. Adjustments were made to clubface loft, draw and fade bias as well as shaft length, weight and stiffness to try and maximize shot performance.
Midway through the fitting Johnson brought in a new clubhead, a TourEdge Exotics Beta, to give us another look and feel. I’d heard this club line was excellent, but I had never hit one before. We continued to swap clubheads and shafts until we had seemingly maxed out my metrics and were in the best head and shaft possible to give me the most out of every well struck drive.
Once we found a drive to my liking (Tour Edge Beta, 11.5 degrees) we followed the same process to find the proper fairway/hybrid club to fill a gap in my bag. All in all, it only took about 90 minutes in the fitting studio was with Johnson to get just the right fit.
I am extremely happy with both clubs, obviously. I anticipate the confidence of knowing you have just the right club in your hands for your swing will pay dividends this season. But, beyond that I was really pleased with the overall experience. And I never felt “sold,” even though I walked out with a different brand than what I was seeking. The TourEdge Exotics performed better, felt better and, to me, even looked better behind the ball. Johnson gave me his full attention for the entire time, shared some laughs and made me feel as though he was willing to work with me for as long as it took to find the right club. He even seemed to be enjoying the process himself.
Final Thoughts (overall experience 5 out of 5 stars)
For life, I’ve been an off-the-rack player. Watch a telecast or play with someone who has a new stick — see said stick — and immediately pursue it new or used off the rack. Never again will I be doing such a thing (with the possible exception of wedges).
What I learned through the data, choices of shaft and head and how each club reacts differently has changed my perception of fitting. Throw in that the fitting is complimentary with a purchase, as long as you are clear you’d like something new, and you can be sure to get a perfect fit.
If you’ve never tried it, or it’s been a while, I encourage you to check out 2nd Swing Golf and book your own custom experience.