PGA Professional Alex James discusses the benefits on being fitted for the right equipment.

Q. What are the main benefits of a fitting?
By playing the right equipment it will help you to get the best out of your game. It will help to make sure that you are maximising your distance and that your misses are getting better in terms of distance and grouping. The other big factor, which is becoming more important, is to get your set configuration correct. The lofts are getting stronger and you need to be able to fill any big gaps in your bag.

Q. What should a fitting look like?
We would always have a chat first to chat about their game, what are their strengths and weaknesses, and what shot shape that they like to hit? Most golfers play the majority of golf at their home club so you want to have an idea of where they play and on what type of course, what are the bunkers like and what bounce/grind will work best on their wedges? For example, if they play a lot of links then you might want lower bounce on their wedges.

Then we’ll get some data on the launch monitor with their own clubs, have a chat about what sort of set configuration that they might prefer and then we'll make up some clubs that we think are going to be close.

We’ll do a quick static fit just to get a starting point, we work with three brands so we’d try each of them. You would have a good idea of what type of head might suit them and then we will get the loft and lies right.

There would normally be around half an hour of hitting different clubs, and getting things nailed down, and then we’ll get the set configuration sorted. The ideal length for a custom fitting is an hour with a bit longer for a full bag.

Q. What do you see in golfers’ bags that doesn’t help them?
When you used to buy a set it would probably start at the 4-iron and end at the pitching wedge and there are still some 4-irons in bags. Some people still have that association of buying a set of irons from the 4 to pitching wedge and these days you can buy what you want. This is where the game has got so much easier with the advent of hybrids and more lofted fairway woods. A lot of golfers would be better off by switching their 5-iron for a hybrid. We sell a lot fewer 3-woods these days as higher lofted fairway woods are easier to hit and they travel just as far.

And there aren’t enough wedges at the bottom end. The standard pitching wedge is around 44˚ so you then have to fill in the gaps after that.

Q. What are you looking to get right with the wedges?
Again, we want to get even gaps and work out where you stop with the set and then go the wedges that are more designed for around the greens rather than as an out-and-out iron. A lot of people aren’t comfortable with a full swing below their pitching wedge so we can then work with the clubs that are more specific.

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Q. What other factors will you consider?
When fitting for a driver there will be more emphasis on looking at what shaft works best with your swing and we’ll look at weights and kick points. The manufacturers are great in helping with charts so you can easily see what spin conditions that we’re looking for.

With irons a graphite shaft has always had that stigma of being for older golfers but that’s not true any more and there are lots of good graphite shafts for strong players. By using a launch monitor and having the data in front of them, there is less resistance here than in the past.

If you last had a fitting 10 years ago then it's a very different experience now. Then, launch monitors were in their infancy and the data and knowledge was not as good. These days it is more in depth and there are more options and it’s a lot easier for us to fit with things like interchangeable heads. Now we can fit a lot quicker and with more certainty.

Q. Is custom fitting more suitable for good players?
In a word, no. People get nervous but we still see the same patterns to their swing and the fitting will be the same. You hear a lot that they might not be swinging it as consistently as normal but, if you swing it out to in, then you’ll still be doing that. So the fitting will have a huge benefit in minimising those aspects of your game. The main problem is the lag in getting the new clubs to them – you almost instantly dislike your own clubs as you know that your new clubs will go further and with less dispersion.

About Alex James

Alex is the head professional at Sand Moor in Leeds where he has been since 2018. He has previously worked at Catterick, Oulton Hall and Royal St David’s after turning pro in 2004.

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