Will custom clubfitting slash your handicap?
Last week we profiled Tom Wishon, the esteemed golf club designer and clubfitting research expert who has been crafting innovative clubhead and shaft designs for more than 30 years.
In Part Two of our excusive interview, we dig a little deeper and ask the Durango-based golf club engineer to talk more about the importance of professionally fitted custom clubs and why golfers should think seriously about being custom fit by a trained and certified clubfitter instead of buying golf clubs off the rack.
CAG: You’ve gone on record saying 90 percent of average golfers can experience tangible, positive results by getting professionally fitted clubs—that men and women who regularly shoot in the 80s to low 90s can cut up to eight strokes off their game through a professional clubfitting experience—and that better players also will see visible improvements. Sounds almost too good to be true.
WISHON: Not at all. We work with hundreds of clubfitters throughout the world. Their research, as well as our own, regularly proves the importance and measurable benefits of a professional clubfitting.
Walk us through this. What, exactly, is a “professional club fitting?”
A professional custom fitting analyzes and determines every one of the 12 key clubfitting specifications for all 14 clubs in the bag to accurately fit clubs to each golfer’s size, strength, athletic ability and swing. It’s an extensive, multiple-hour analysis. That information gives experienced clubfitters the ability to accurately match a golfer’s unique swing characteristics and specifications to build custom fit clubs, which enables the golfer to play to the best of his or her ability.
That, versus off-the-rack clubs, which are mass-produced by the millions to a single series of standard specifications to fit golfers who have average height, weight, swing speed, hand positioning, strength, etc.?
Precisely. In general, proper clubfitting allows golfers to reduce the severity and frequency of their bad shots and hit more quality shots—in general, to miss the ball better than before. And that most certainly is a measurable game improvement. The biggest mistake a consumer can make is to not seek out a certified clubfitter, to instead to be dominated by marketing claims and continue to buy clubs off the rack.
Think about it: There is no way that golf clubs sold in stores or pro shops can enable the vast majority of golfers to play as well as with clubs that are custom fitted and handcrafted by a professional clubfitter.
Clubfitting sounds very expensive.
In almost every case, golfers who work with a professional clubfitter will pay no more for professionally custom fit golf clubs than they would for any heavily marketed brand clubs they buy off the rack. How many times in the last five years have you purchased a big-brand driver, wedge, putter and set of irons—clubs that ultimately failed to live up to their marketing claims? If the end price is the same for accurately custom-fit clubs that have a track record of allowing golfers to play better and enjoy the game more, why not work with a good clubfitter that will take hours to analyze you and craft clubs, one at a time, so they fit your specific swing characteristics?
Our initial clubfitting analysis fee is $250 for several hours of measurements, hit testing and analyses. A full set of Tom Wishon Golf custom fit clubs, from driver to putter, costs around $1,800. If the golfer later purchases custom fit clubs determined from our fitting analysis, we deduct the fitting fee from the end price of the custom fit clubs. So for the same price you’d pay for any full set of big brand, off-the-rack clubs, you’ll get a set of handmade, accurately custom fit clubs that can be enjoyed for many years, possibly for the rest of your life.
Custom clubfitting is not for everyone. But if you play 10 times or more a year and shoot 110 or lower, the payoff can be significant: You’ll hit a higher percentage of good shots, your poor shots won’t be as bad or as frequent, and depending on your ability you’ll see a reduction of between 3 and 10 shots off your score. Custom clubfitting, when done by a true professional in the field, is a solid and proven investment, undoubtedly the most important game-improving investment you’ll ever make.
Where does a golfer find an experienced professional clubfitter?
There are three great online sources, including the Association of Golf Clubfitting Professionals and the International Clubmakers’ Guild. We also maintain an online listing of screened, certified custom clubmakers. Any of these three search tools will narrow the task of finding a good clubfitter.
Tom Wishon is credited with more than 50 design “firsts,” including the first titanium driver introduced in the United States; author of 10 books and more than 200 magazine articles on club making, shaft technology and custom clubfitting; designer of clubs for many of the game’s biggest names, including Harvey Penick, Payne Stewart, Ben Crenshaw and Scott Verplank; and technical advisory panel member for more than a dozen years with Golf Digest.
Chris Duthie is a contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer, the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via www.coloradoavidgolfer.com.