There is no magic potion you can drink that will instantly turn you into a Tour-level player. But a session at Hot Hot Stix Golf, one of the premier custom-fit golf retailers in the world, can ensure that you will have the best equipment possible to maximize the skills you have.
We asked John German, Hot Stix’s manager of custom fitting operations, and Tom Mase, their executive vice president of R&D and Innovation, to answer a few questions about custom fitting, technology and the future of golf equipment. Here’s what they had to say.
How often is a player who comes in for a fitting already playing the correct clubs?
JG: The vast majority of the people we work with come in with equipment that is not set up well for their game. However, often there are elements that we can use from their existing set and customize it so that product becomes more efficient for the player. I have yet to see a customer come in with a set of clubs that everything is spot on for their game.
What types of clubs have gone through the biggest changes since Hot Stix has been around?
JG: I believe everything (drivers, hybrids, irons, wedges and putters) with the exception of fairway woods have gone through massive changes in the six years that I have been here at Hot Stix. Fairway woods are coming along but they are still behind the advancements of the other areas of the bag. I would say the fairway woods are the least “sexy” portion of the bag and that may have a great deal to do with it.
TM: Hybrids have become much more popular, but drivers have changed the most. Hot Stix Golf’s first calibration driver was a 280 cc driver which is way below the 460 cc driver that most people are trying in the bays today.
How has recent launch monitor technology changed club fitting?
JG: Launch monitors have made huge advancements in recent years for club fitting. The early launch monitors would at times give you questionable data. With the present day launch monitors such as Trackman, the data that it gathers is virtually 100% accurate and aids the club fitting immensely. The amount of information the modern launch monitor gives you is enormous compared to a few years ago. Once you have accurate information, it really comes down to how the fitter interprets it and is able to make sound recommendations based off of that data. Overall, modern launch monitor technology allows us to put a better product in the customer’s hands through more accurate data.
TM: The Trackman has really improved the data we get for R&D purposes as well as for fitting. The reason the Trackman is advantageous over a launch monitor is that it actually tracks the ball. Spin is measured as well as position. At Hot Stix Golf all of our outdoor fitting venues take advantage of Trackman data. Trackman is also allowing for the fitter to measure quantities such as club head angle of attack.
What is the biggest misconception about technology and golf?
JG: There is a “best” product in every category. The question that we get all the time is “What’s the best driver right now?” We will explain to the customer is that there are numerous products by all of the manufactures that are extremely good, but it depends on what fits your profile. Once you have been through the fitting then we will be able to determine what product is “best” for you.
TM: You probably have heard it said that a beginner should take lessons rather than get fit for equipment. But I say that players at all levels, and especially beginners, should get fit for equipment and take lessons. Form and fit make for an improving golfer at every level.
What is the future of club fitting? Have we hit a plateau or will there be more technological advances on the horizon?
JG: The world of fitting has in no way hit a plateau. We are constantly changing and looking for new ways to take club fitting to the next level. We continually strive to find different creative avenues to enhance the experience and deliver the very best possible fitting to our customer.
TM: Club fitting is going to get better at recognizing swing characteristics and getting the right equipment into that player’s hands. There are lots of different swings and the selection of equipment is diverse. I think fitting will get better and better at coming up with creative equipment solutions for players. The game is hard so you should play with equipment that is a good fit.