The ultimate short cut to better golf is club-fitting, and the ultimate in club-fitting is found at Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Georgia. But it comes with a price tag: $9,000.
But what's money if you want to shave strokes in short order, live like a Tour pro for three days and do it all in the lap of luxury?
Last December, TaylorMade opened the Tour Experience at the Kingdom, sort of a golf fantasy camp for gear heads. What you get for your cash is superb accommodations at the Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation (a GOLF Magazine Gold Medal resort), multiple hours of instruction from Charlie King (a GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teacher) and a high-tech club-fitting that mirrors what TaylorMade's PGA Tour staff pros experience at the company's Carlsbad, California headquarters. Sure, the fun doesn't come cheap, but at the very least, it's the real deal.
The Tour Experience starts with a welcome reception, orientation and a private poolside barbecue dinner, where your needs are looked after by a team of butlers. But don't overindulge: Day 2 requires some stamina.
After meeting with a TaylorMade representative, you'll be introduced to Charlie King, Charlie McLendon (the Manager & Master Fitting Professional at the TaylorMade Performance Lab at Reynolds Plantation) and Jason Werner, the Master Fitter at the Kingdom, who oversees the fitting and club-building processes for all guests, including the TaylorMade Staff professionals.
Your custom fitting starts with full swing and short game instruction so that the assembled pros can grasp what your game is all about. "Hit 10 wedge shots to this target," King orders, amiably. After pacing off another 25 yards, he says, "OK, now hit to here." You'll repeat this process with driver, irons, and putts. All the while, King and his staff are scrawling numbers and taking notes.
Eventually, you'll head inside for the MATT (Motion Analysis Technology by TaylorMade) System swing analysis to fit your driver, irons, wedge and putter. It's really pretty cool. The staff will attach reflective markers to your body—head-to-toe—as well as on the shaft and head of the fitting club. Somehow, you figure out a way to swing. Nine separate high speed synchronized cameras capture the motion of the reflectors and instantaneously render a 3-D image. The image can be rotated to display countless angles, so that you can see what your swing looks like from above, below and every way in between. Inside and out, launch monitors and other devices record your swing speed, ball speed, launch angles, spin ratios—the list of things that can go right and wrong is exhaustive, but they'll cover them all.
Finally, after the humans and computers have finished evaluating you, club recommendations are produced, and you start to get that warm kid-at-Christmas feeling. After popping a few pills of your choice to reduce muscle fatigue, you rally for an intimate dinner with a TaylorMade Staff PGA Tour pro (we dined with 2003 PGA Championship winner Shaun Micheel).
You'll leave Reynolds Plantation with new golf shoes, a golf and wind shirt, balls, a hat and glove, but there's one more treat before heading home: a round of golf at the Oconee course, a 2000 Rees Jones design that occupies a rung as one of GOLF Magazine's Top 100 Courses You Can Play in the U.S. Best of all, you'll play this round with your new TaylorMade staff golf bag—filled with the 14 clubs you just ordered. That's right, the Taylor Made club alchemists have worked into the wee hours so that you can test drive your new sticks before you leave. The problem is, no one wants to leave. The real world simply can't compete with The Kingdom.