IPAC’s 8 Step Clubfitting Process:
STEP 1 - INTERVIEW
It is very likely that your ClubFitter has never met you in person and has never seen you swing a club before. Your ClubFitter will take time to get to know you, your game, your personality and your goals. Everything about you is unique.
Your Fitter will want to know the current state of your game, any particular clubs you are having trouble hitting, which clubs you enjoy hitting, what are your capabilities and practice habits, and whether you have any injuries or disabilities.
If you wish, your ClubFitter will be more than happy to work with your Teaching Professional or Coach. This is an educational process not only for the ClubFitter but also for you. You will think more about your game and help define and set realistic goals for yourself.
STEP 2 - CURRENT SET EVALUATION
STEP 3 - STATIC MEASUREMENTS
Up to this point, your Fitter has already been evaluating you and your clubs and has a starting point in mind. Usually, your Fitter will begin by taking some measurements such as your height, wrist to floor height and hand size.
STEP 4 - DYNAMIC MEASUREMENTS
Using a sophisticated launch monitor, your Fitter will now watch you hit a series of shots with your current clubs and analyze the following data to begin fitting you for your new clubs:
Distance - both total and carry distance are important but the importance of each will vary depending on what you are being fit for i.e. driver or irons. Knowing your carry distance is the most important part of iron fitting. You want to have a set of irons/hybrids which allow you to minimize roll out after your ball has landed however with your driver you need to maximize both carry and roll.
Landing angle- with an iron too shallow a landing angle will make your golf ball roll too far after it lands and with a driver too steep of an angle will minimize roll out.
Peak height - ideally the peak height of all your shots should be similar. At some point in most golfers’ sets they will begin to lose height and should change to a hybrid or higher lofted fairway wood.
Spin rates - too much spin and your ball will balloon and lose too much distance and your ball will drop out of the sky early and lose additional distance. There is an optimal spin rate for golfers, but it is not the same for every golfer. Higher swing speed players create more spin and will need clubheads and shafts to help them control their spin rates and keep them down while slower swing speed players have trouble creating spin and will often see their ball drop early or release on the greens too much.
Shot dispersion- ill fitting clubs will cause your golf swing to have to adjust to the incorrect specs and will create inconsistencies in your ball flight. This is one of the most important parts of fitting and your club fitter will be able to pinpoint shaft inconsistencies and/or incorrect lengths and lie angles for your swing.
STEP 5 - TESTING
With the knowledge your Fitter has gained from the previous steps you are now ready to begin testing different equipment. The process of this is simple, start with one club and change only one aspect of it (clubhead or shaft) at a time to see the differences in your ball flight until the optimal has been reached. The science and art behind this process is far from simple. The following is a list of the different design features of clubheads, shafts and grips that your Fitter will consider when having you test clubs. As you can imagine, the more options available for your testing is critical in dialing in the perfect combination for your game.
- Loft - The loft of the driver is the most important part of the club when it comes to launch angles and spin rates. This can vary greatly from golf swing to golf swing even if they are the same speed due to club path, face angle and attack angles. With irons the loft will also dictate spin rates and launch angles and may make it difficult to produce the required height on longer irons to make them an effective club. Loft is also important when it comes to gap fitting your set and pitching wedge lofts can vary by up to 6 degrees from model to model. Loft can be adjusted to fine tune gapping, but any adjustment made to loft will also affect the bounce and offset of the golf club.
- Lie - An incorrect lie angle will cause: toe or heel hits, the toe or heel to grab the ground and rotate the face, force the golfer into an incorrect set up, or worse, send the ball offline due to the face being angled to the left or the right unless a compensation is made by the golfer during his or her golf swing or set up. An incorrect lie angle with a perfect swing can cause the ball to go 20 yards offline simply because the club is not pointing in the right direction.
- Bounce - Bounce is designed to keep a golf club from digging into the ground. Bounce is critical on wedges, but also has a big effect on iron play. Golfers are basically divided into three categories: sliders/sweepers, neutral and digger/drivers. The correct bounce angle must be found for each type of golfer to improve both wedge/bunker play and their iron play.
- Sole shape and size - The sole of the club is like bounce, but a wider, rounder sole will make an iron more forgiving through the turf making it ideal for higher handicap golfers.
- Grind, leading and trailing edge - A specific grind on wedges will help improve turf interaction for different types of shots and ground conditions. Grinds are given different names by different manufacturers, but the goal is to provide the player with relief on the sole of the club to help them produce different shots with ease or to prevent digging depending on where the material has been removed from the club.
- Size and Shape - The different sizes and shapes of golf clubs, both woods and irons, are not only meant to be pleasing to the eye and inspire the golfer to hit good shot, but are also designed to move weight to different parts of the club to improve the center of gravity, increase or decrease MOI (moment of inertia) and provide better launch conditions for the various skill levels of golfers. If the weight is positioned behind the ball the advanced golfer can shape their golf shots with ease, but the golf club will be difficult to hit. If the weight is positioned around the edges the golf club will have a larger effective hitting area making it more forgiving but will be more difficult to shape shots.
- Weight - The correct shaft weight will allow a golfer to swing the club with their natural tempo while not feeling too light (which will quicken their transition) or too heavy (and be difficult to swing). Typically, a heavier shaft will play stiffer than a lighter shaft due to the amount of material used to increase the weight. Finding the correct weight of shaft is critically important for the golfer.
- Flex/frequency - The shaft must return as close as possible to straight at impact. Shafts that are too stiff or too soft will cause inconsistent golf shots, loss of distance and loss of distance control. Once the correct flex is found the shaft flexes must frequency match throughout the set to create consistency. Clubs built in a factory are rarely matching throughout the set and may be a full flex or more out of spec leading to poor results.
- Bend Profile - The Bend profile of a shaft will aid the fitter in fine tuning a golfer’s ball flight. A shaft that is stiffer in the tip section will produce a slightly lower spinning ball flight while a softer tip section will aid in increasing spin. A qualified Club Fitter will be able to determine which shaft is performing optimally for the golfer.
- Torque- If a golfer swings the golf club aggressively and uses a shaft with too much torque he/she will produce shots that leak to the right and a smoother swinging golfer with a shaft that has too little torque will find that the shaft feels hard and may produce a shot that flies too low. The torque rating in steel is usually not an issue however it can be when choosing a graphite shaft due to the materials and patterns being used to produce the different shafts.
- Material - Steel or graphite shafts are the most prevalent choices on the market. Steel is usually stiffer and heavier while graphite is usually lighter and softer. Since the introduction of super lightweight graphite shafts, manufacturers have been able to build golf clubs longer while not increasing (or even decreasing) swing weight enabling the golfer to swing the club faster in an effort to produce more distance. Most better players still use steel shafts in their irons although there are now graphite shafts on the market that weigh up to 125 grams but will provide the shock absorbing benefits of graphite. Many players on the PGA tour have been switching to graphite shafts in their irons and have been able to improve their ball flight and consistency.
- Length - The length of a golf club will effect whether the golfer can swing the club efficiently and strike the center of the clubface. Too long a shaft in the driver will produce inconsistent contact while too short will result in a loss of distance.
- Size - The size of the grip is a critical part of the fitting process. Too big or too small of a grip will affect how the golfer releases the golf club and how much tension will be in their hands during the golf swing.
Material and Design - Grip are manufactured with many different material and design options: very soft to very firm, with or without cord, ribbed or round, tapered and untampered. Selecting the correct option will improve the feel and performance for the golfer.
STEP 6 - FINAL EVALUATION OF SET CONFIGURATION
After the previous steps have been completed, you and your Fitter should have selected the perfect clubs for you and your game. But there is still more tweaking to do, including, the need to find the correct set configuration to match your game, the typical course conditions you play on and the style of game you play. How many wedges? Which hybrids and fairways? You want to have good gapping between clubs, approximately 10 to 15 yards depending on your clubhead speed. Do you need an extra club or two to switch out depending on the conditions you are playing? Your Fitter will discuss all of these options with you and conduct further testing if necessary.
STEP 7 - CUSTOM BUILD
Your new set of clubs must be built exactly to the specifications and instructions of your Fitter. Your Fitter must take responsibility for the build and double check the clubs before handing them to you.
A qualified club builder will take the time to weight sort every head, shaft and grip. They will make all of the adjustments to the clubhead as prescribed by your fitter, including loft, lie, face angle and any weight adjustments. Every shaft will be spine aligned. Your final set of clubs should be frequency matched to very tight tolerances.
STEP 8 - POST FITTING CHECK UP
There will be a short period of adjustment to your new custom clubs. After some practice and play you will begin to get comfortable to your new set of custom clubs. Your Fitter will ask you to come visit again to do a final evaluation on your clubs, your progress and make any additional adjustments that may be needed. This is a great time for your Fitter to help you confirm your new distances and double check loft and lie angles as your golf swing begins to find it’s consistent, natural motion.