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Fitted Through Instruction™

Does The Equipment You Buy Really Help You Play?

Following the 1935 US Open at Oakmont, I sat with my wife Louise after dinner and thought about my driving, while she did some needlework. Finally, I said, “Louise, I need to buy another driver. I’m driving terrible.” She put her work down and said, “Byron, we’ve been married over a year. I haven’t bought a new dress or a new pair of shoes or anything for myself in all that time. But you’ve bought four new drivers, and you’re not happy with any of them. One of two things, either you don’t know what kind of driver you want, or you don’t know how to drive.”

Byron Nelson

We live in a customized society. Custom houses, custom cars, custom clothes and, of course, custom golf equipment. While many things don’t actually need to be customized, golf clubs should be customized. The old adage, “it’s not the arrow, it’s the Indian”, is true, but only if the Indian has arrows that fit him properly.

Most educated golfers in our day have realized the importance of custom fitted golf equipment, but the question is: Who should do the customizing?

All too often, I see people waste money on golf equipment that yields no better result. Properly “fitted” equipment can have a very positive effect in someone’s play; however, there are two distinct ways to fit golf equipment. The most common in the industry is to fit a player for how they swing on the day they are fitted. That type of fitting is called “fitting for compensation”, which is a mistake if a player is trying to improve. If, on the day a player is fit, they are coming over the top and the fitter is not a teaching professional, the player ends up getting fit into specifications that match a poor swing. Ultimately, when a player is fit to match a poor swing, they are being rewarded for a poor swing and end up worse.

Another problem in the industry is that many people are buying credibility through technology. Just because you can buy an x-ray machine doesn’t mean you are a radiologist. Last summer I had a student who was in the process of improving, who was fit using a launch monitor during a demo day. The “fitter” told him his launch angle was too low and wanted to sell him a 12° driver; fortunately, he called me first. I told him not to buy the driver because presently his down swing was too steep, which in effect was de-lofting the face of his driver. As we shallowed his approach, the 12° driver would launch the ball too high in the air. Again, the wrong fitting would have rewarded him to continue to make a poor swing. Today’s fitting technology is valuable if someone knows how to read and apply the information to the player.

The other way to be fit is to be “fitted through instruction™”. A golf professional that has been trained in instruction has a much better chance of helping a student into golf equipment that can make a positive impact on their game.

An experienced golf instructor can help make the decision as to what is the correct length golf club based on the playing posture you should be in. The lie angle should be set based on the plane you should be swinging on. The other important variables to be considered are club head design, shaft material, tip strength, overall flex, flex point, loft, grip size and, maybe most importantly, set make up.

The bottom line is if you are considering buying equipment this year, the biggest mistake you can make is buying off the shelf. Your equipment should be customized to fit you to play your best. The second biggest mistake you can make is allowing a “fitter”, who doesn’t understand your golf swing, to determine the specifications of your equipment. Find a qualified golf professional to help you spend your money wisely. At our golf school, one of the most difficult things we have to tell someone is that their new custom equipment doesn’t fit their improved golf swing. In effect, they wasted their money. The value in golf equipment is not in the price, it’s in the performance. If you save $100 on a driver because you got a “good deal” and it doesn’t lower your score, then you wasted whatever money you spent on it.



Todd Sones