By Brendon Elliott, PGA
I wrote an article last year on the topic of club fitting for young junior players. In working more with older juniors over the past two years, I felt compelled to revisit the topic of club fitting. After seeing an in-depth custom club fitting conducted with one of my teenage students, I focus this article on pre-teen and teen golfers.
To get some expert insight, I reached out to Evan Addington, store manager at Club Champion™ in Orlando, Florida. This was where my student, Emma, went through the complete fitting package that Club Champion offers – from putter to the driver, and everything in between. It was a very eye-opening three-and-a-half-hour process that gave me, Emma, and her parents some valuable insight into her game, her current club-related shortcomings, and what her potential could be if playing with properly-fit equipment.
Golf Range Magazine (GRM): Although widely overlooked, club fitting is an incredible way to maximize one’s ability to score. What would you, through the work you do at Club Champion, say to support this statement?
Evan Addington (EA): Club fitting is an extremely important part of improving scoring. Predictability is key for shooting lower scores. Knowing where you miss is huge, and in my experience, we can usually eliminate a miss through the fitting process. Once you know your miss, the game becomes much easier.
GRM: What is a club-related issue that typically plagues most golfers?
EA: I would say most golfers have inconsistency in either the weight, length, or [shaft] flexes in their bags. For example, their driver may be a softer profile stiff with a soft tip section at 60 grams, and then they have a 3-wood with a 50-gram shaft that feels much lighter to them. Usually this comes from picking clubs up here and there as opposed to doing them at the same time so we can “chart” a player’s bag and make sure everything jives.
GRM: In terms of pre-teen and teen golfers, what are typical club-related issues that hurt their games?
EA: Lengths for sure. pre-teens are tough because parents don’t know when to change equipment and it creates a ton of anxiety for certain players. Watch the golf ball. When a kid who striped it 6 months ago starts to kind of rope hook it or struggles to at least start the ball on the correct line, their clubs are probably not right for them anymore. That could be length, it could be weight, stiffness etc.
GRM: Do you have statistical data on how much a golfer improves after being fit for and purchasing the correct equipment? If not stats, what would an educated guess be?
EA: Our marketing says that on average 7/10 players gain about 20 yards off the tee. There are a few other metrics we have from other studies, but it is hard to quantify. I have a ton of testimonials from customers of mine that I use here at the shop, but so many of the improvements cannot be measured. For example, fitting someone into correct wedges or a putter. I don’t have any of my customers chart that strokes-gained info on the golf course.
GRM: In terms of the fitting process that you conduct at Club Champion, can you walk me through that?
EA: We have a ton of information on our website detailing how we go through the process, but basically, we test their clubs, explain the inefficiencies, and then we start to test shafts using a test head. Once we have the shaft, we transition and test the heads on the same shaft, isolating one variable at a time.
GRM: What are some common misconceptions golfers have in terms of equipment and how might those ideas influence their game?
EA: “I can’t play forged.” – “I’ve never hit a Titleist well.” – “I need forgiving wedges because I mishit the ball.” – “I need a mallet because I mishit my putts.”
When a club is fitted properly, many of those issues are minimized.
GRM: What advice do you have for parents of junior golfers who are transitioning out of youth golf clubs and into adult golf clubs?
EA: Trust the process of a professional who fits kids a lot. Stop reading the marketing materials out there and stop basing everything on how tall your kids are. That works well when you are talking about 6-10-year old’s; but after someone has developed a swing, we want to break away from those parameters.