Launch monitors, lie boards, shaft labs, tape measures are among the many different tools now being used to fit golfers. Anytime you walk into a pro shop or search a manufacturers corporate website it is impossible to avoid seeing or hearing about getting your golf clubs fitted. There is no doubt that fitting is the new buzzword in the industry and everyone is starting to catch on but is it really necessary?
Ping was the first major manufacturer to really push golf club fitting and they've been doing it for over thirty years. In the last few years every other OEM has jumped onboard. Everything can be adjusted now from loft, lie, length, grip size, shaft flex, to golf ball spin rates and hardness. It is all very precise and scientific and exact, which is why it is not a concept that should be applied to most golfers.
To be brutally honest… most golfers are not good. This is not a knock it is the honest truth. Most players prefer to go out 2-3 times per month when it is warm and sunny, they will have a few beers and laugh it up with their buddies and have a great time. They very rarely practice and when they do they usually just beat balls without any sort of notion of what they are working on. And that is okay; these are the people that drive our industry. But, if someone is not willing to practice their game and perfect their swing then there is not a whole lot a club fitter can do to try and help them out. The casual or recreational player just does not have the consistency in their swing and setup to even obtain an accurate fitting. If an accurate fitting can't be determined then you get into a situation where you are adjusting clubs just for the sake of adjusting clubs, not because there is any real benefit.
How far can you hit your seven iron in the air? What does your typical ball flight do? If you can't answer these questions right away then chances are you probably won't benefit very much from a club fitting.
One thing that people seem to overlook is the fact that OEM's build golf clubs for the average golfer. They spend millions of dollars on R&D trying to come up with better designs for the average player because they know that is where the money is. Golf clubs are designed and tested certain ways with certain components for a reason. When players come along and start modifying these clubs with different shafts or different lofts it interferes with how the club was originally intended to perform and usually does not produce the desired result.
Now there are some exceptions. Obviously someone who is 6"5' is going to need a longer golf club no matter what their ability, and every single player should be put into the proper shaft flex, but these two measures can usually be determined in a matter of minutes if done by a qualified fitter. To start getting into lie angles and lofts and shaft torques and kick points is moving into overkill unless you can produce the same ball flight every swing.
For the average golfer the most important things to look at when purchasing clubs are these:
1. Buying a set of clubs that gives you what you are looking for, i.e. A higher handicap player should be buying golf clubs that offer more forgiveness, a mid handicap player may want a club that will help him improve his feel and shotmaking ability.
2. Buying a set of clubs in your price range, there are sets of clubs for all levels of player at almost all price ranges.
3. Buy a club that suits your eye, most people laugh at this but it is really important that the clubs you are playing give you confidence when you look at them.
4. Let the sales associate help you determine what shaft flex is best for you. Worrying about anything other than these unless you are a very good player will just cause unnecessary headaches and confusion. The benefits of today's golf clubs lies in the technology behind them not the ability to have them custom fit.
And finally, if you are really serious about improving your golf game don't rely on the clubs to do it. Get out there; take some lessons, and practice, practice, practice.