Finding a capable custom fitter

Monday February 19th, 2007

Pat yourself on the back if you've decided to go ahead and be custom-fit for new sticks. That's a wise move. But there is one caveat. Not all fitters are created equal. Some apply their craft with the greatest of ease. Other fitters, however, offer little more expertise than you and me. We asked equipment honchos to recommend ways to find a good club fitter.

Steve Ogg, senior category director, customization, Callaway Golf:
"Ask friends/playing partners that have been fit for a recommendation...Most major manufacturers have clubfitting capabilities; check their web sites for details...Visit your local golf shop or retailer-most have PGA or LPGA personnel on site that are trained in club fitting."

David Hunter, field promotions manager, Cleveland Golf:
"The way to find a good custom fitter is to listen to their questions. An experienced fitter will always interview the golfer prior to the fitting. The questions below educate the fitter on your goals and objectives:

a. What is your handicap or average score?
b. Do you prefer an iron that has forgiveness or workability and feedback? Helps determine the correct head model.
c. What is your typical shot pattern (i.e. slice, hook, etc)? Are you happy with your current shot pattern?
d. Where do your misses land relative to your intended target? Helps fitter focus on specific areas (i.e. lie angle changes).
e. Do you have any physical ailments or limitations? Helps determine best shaft option.

Tom Preece, director of global consumer connection, Cobra Golf:
"If you know what brand of product you'd like to be fit into, check the manufacturers' website for a list of their custom fitting dealers in your area. You can also ask your golf professional if he's been trained in custom fitting and how long he's been fitting golf clubs."

Dr. Tom Mase, EVP of R&D and Innovation at Hot Stix Golf and John German, supervisor fitting operations, Hot Stix Golf:
"Central to the fitting process is the ability to ask good questions and understand the needs of a golfer through qualified interviews and profiling. If a custom fitter has the ability to listen, relate to the golfer and ask a lot of questions, then he'll be better in the role of providing a personalized experience and proper fitting.

The first question a fitter should ask, 'What do you expect to achieve through the fitting process?' Technically, you want a fitter that has, and knows how to use, technology to characterize the ball's launch conditions. Specifically, they should use a launch monitor in the process.

Access the equipment available for fitting in the fitting facility. A good custom fitter should have a launch monitor, a frequency machine, and loft and lie angle adjustment capabilities in addition to a swing weight scale. Don't confuse a club fitter with a club builder. (The latter is limited to re-griping and re-shafting.) The fitter should have the means to fine tune your equipment once the launch conditions have been measured."

Bill Iseri, manager of custom fitting, Ping Golf:
"Some questions to ask your fitter include, 'How extensive is his training and where did it occur? What fitting equipment/clubs/tools does he have at his disposal to help the process? Does he have a launch monitor for driver fitting?'"

Tom Wishon, president, Tom Wishon Golf Technology:
"One of the best ways to find a good clubmaker [one who does quality fittings] is to go to the web site of the Professional Clubmakers Society (www.proclubmakers.org) and look for the link 'Locate a PCS Clubmaker.' If you find a PCS member clubmaker who holds the accreditation of 'Class A Clubmaker' you will definitely be in good hands because the Class A examination is very detailed and very stringent to complete successfully to gain that accreditation. There is one other clubmaking accreditation program, which also requires solid knowledge to pass. Look in the yellow pages under 'Custom Clubs' or 'Custom Clubmaker.' If they advertise as an 'Advanced GCA Clubmaker,' that too is a strong indication of expertise in the craft."

Rob Sauerhaft is the Managing Editor of Equipment for GOLF MAGAZINE. E-mail him your questions and comments at golfletters@golfonline.com

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