These days I have a difficult time reading the golf industry magazines and checking out other various forms of golf media. For a game that is supposed to be about integrity, the actual business of golf does not always have it.
For example, there is pay to play involved. I've been asked to write for big publications. One time my draft for a certain magazine received high praise by the assistant editor only to have it be rejected in the end. I asked why because he thought it was fantastic and it also perfectly mirrored the sample article in the magazine that I was asked to use as a guide. I was told that the author of the other article buys advertising and my company hadn't, so his boss said my article had to be pulled.
Many online review are also paid reviews…and articles that look like articles are actually paid advertisements. You really have to read between the lines on those things.
Publicly traded golf companies often act for share holders and not the customers. It's in part why you see accelerated product life cycles in golf (and other industries) even when there is no performance improvement by the newly released product.
There's also a ridiculous amount of well-meaning but, quite frankly, bad golf instruction, coaching, and golf fitness training advice out there.
That being said, I still feel like I need to at least keep a finger on the pulse of the industry. So, yesterday I was thumbing through the latest issue of Golfweek, and I actually came across a nice graphic.
It reminded me of when I was just on my golf trip to Alabama
and one of the conversations I was having with a couple of the guys revolved around custom club fitting and how beneficial it can be to golfer performance of any skill level.
In the above graphic, this guy not only got longer but ended up with a tighter shot dispersion too!
Anyway, one of the points we were talking about was that I think you should be careful about is that the term "custom fit" gets thrown around a bit carelessly and perhaps in a way that lacks integrity. Someone or a company might tell you that you are being custom fit, but really it's not…or not to a level that makes as big of a difference as it truly can.
It's kind of like buying a suit or custom clothing. For example, while it's true that buying something in a small, medium, large, or x-large is on some level custom fitting, it's not quite the same as if various other measurements are taken for your chest, neck, waist, inseam, etc…and the clothing is then made for you and you alone.
The same goes for custom golf club fitting.
There are also a couple other potential issues.
Sometimes the custom club fitter is testing from limited options. Getting fit from 1 brand won't have the same affect as having the option of testing from 10 brands. I remember going to a Top 100 club fitter who was very knowledgable and we went through a great fitting process. But his inventory was limited. In the end, although I got fitted for a nice driver that was a much better option than buying off the rack at a big box store, once I was able to later visit another fitting company who had a much deeper inventory to pull from, I was able to pick up another 8 yards on my drives while maintaining the same dispersion.
The fitter also may not be completely transparent about the incentives they receive for selling certain brands, or worse yet are on staff with one brand only. It's understandable and it doesn't mean those people are bad people, it's just one of the flaws of the business model that you have to watch out for.
So…ideally, you want a knowledgeable fitter who has a lot of options to test, has no conflicting allegiance to a particular brand, and who makes decisions solely based on your personal performance.
It is for this reason that I'm a fan of fitting companies like Cool Clubs (7 locations), True Spec Golf (21 locations), and Club Champion
I don't have a personal experience with Cool Clubs, but it seems like they might satisfy the above criteria.
I went to a True Spec in New York a few times and had a fine experience. They are in the dog house with me right now though because Golf Magazine just named True Spec the #1 Clubfitter. Yes, True Spec is good. However, one problem with this award is that True Spec and Golf Magazine are owned by the same company. Yikes! No bias there at all!
Thus my current favorite of the companies/fitters I am aware of is actually Club Champion
, also in particular because they have 74 locations in the United States. With that size of a company, they don't have as much of a problem stocking lots of testing options. Their fitters also go through a month long education process and they are paid on salary with no knowledge of the head and shaft margins. It's truly about your personal performance.
One drawback for some will be the cost, though. Their fitting prices are relatively high. However, that may end up being cheaper in the long run than, for example, buying one or two drivers each season in hopes that it will finally be "the one". You'll also be able to rule out a variable when making further improvements to your game as the culprit to a bad shot(s) wouldn't likely be the equipment.
To help those that need it with the cost, I set up a deal with them in which if you mention you were referred by Jaacob Bowden, PGA, you'll get a discount on any service or equipment you purchase through them. To be transparent, I could've taken an option in which I also receive a financial kickback for the referral, but I wanted to refrain from the conflict of interest and recommend you to them simply because they do a good job and not because I'm getting paid.
Enjoy the discount as well as the longer, more accurate, and more consistent shots!