How Much Distance Does Club Fitting Add? – Golf Myths Unplugged

Untapped Distance Potential

There’s something I see every time that I go to the golf course: players leaving driving distance on the table.  Whether it’s drives that balloon into the sky from too much spin or bullets that launch at 5 degrees, the average player has the potential to hit their drives much farther than they do.  It led me to ask two questions: How much distance is the average player losing?  How much can club fitting help?

Together with Club Champion, I was able to answer those questions.

The Myths

Myth #1 – The average golfer could hit their driver much farther

Myth #2 – Club fitting will make golfers longer off the tee

Myth #3 – Club fitting will make golfers more accurate

How We Tested

Club Champion fits dozens of golfers every day.  I randomly selected 25 golfers who had gone through full bag fittings and analyzed their data.  I had access to the data they produced with their own clubs and with the clubs they were fit into.

Note: Because these fittings were randomly selected, some data points were missing.  As a result, some of our statistics reflect a pool of 22 or 24 golfers, not 25.

The Results

Before I get into the data, let me clarify what we’re talking about.  This is not meant as a hypothetical question wherein the average golfer trains like a PGA Tour pro and taps their inner Dustin Johnson.  I simply looked at the current driver carry distances of our 24 golfers and compared that to the optimal distance they should carry their driver given their current club head speed.

Every golfer in our test was short of optimal, and 22 of 24 golfers are leaving over 10 yards of carry distance on the table.  That means they’re consistently hitting one more club into the green than they need to be.

Ready for a more shocking stat?  17 of 24 golfers are missing out on 20 yards or more.  20 yards of carry not only changes the clubs you’re hitting into the green, it also changes the lines you can take off the tee.

I’m not done yet.  9 of 24 golfers, over 1 in 3, was over 40 yards short of optimal.  2 of our golfers were over 70 yards short of optimal.  70 yards!  These players were carrying their drivers around 150 yards when they should be bombing it 225!

On average, the 24 golfers in our study were missing out on 34 yards off the tee.  If you want to stop reading now and book an appointment with a fitter, I’ll understand.

Every one of the 25 golfers in this study gained driving distance through club fitting.  Every.  Single.  One.  If you want to hit the ball farther off the tee, don’t just go to the store and buy the newest driver.  Don’t buy some junk from an infomercial.  Book a fitting.

Of the 25 players in the study, 16 gained over 10 yards and 6 gained over 20.  2 golfers gained over 40 yards off the tee!  On average, players who got fit drove the ball over 16 yards further.

One final note of interest: three of the golfers in this study were able to go beyond their optimal driving numbers because their new fitted club helped them to add club head speed.

Distance is great, but driving it farther OB is not the goal.  Luckily, club fitting was shown to improve accuracy as well.  15 of 22 players  improved their accuracy, and the group as a whole hit the ball over 5 yards closer to the center line.

Of the seven who did not improve their accuracy, two had marginal changes (1 and 2 yards), and another traded 6 yards of accuracy for 48 yards of distance.  I can’t speak for everyone, but I’d make that trade every day of the week.

Conclusion

You know that one drive that you absolutely crushed, the one that went way longer than you expected?  It wasn’t a fluke, it was your potential showing itself.  If you’re like the golfers in our study, you’re leaving 10, 20, maybe even 40 yards of driving distance on the table.  The best part is that you don’t have to work out or practice to tap into that distance, all you need to do is get fit.

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Matt Saternus

Co-Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is a golf instructor, club fitter, and writer living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Matt's work has been published in Mulligan Magazine, Chicagoland Golf, South Florida Golf, and other golf media outlets. He's also been a featured speaker in the Online Golf Summit and is a member of Ultimate Golf Advantage's Faculty of Experts.

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14 Comments

  1. Would a golf galaxy superstore (Indy) be capable of doing a good fitting? I would go to a club champion, but live in Evansville IN, and not close to any locations..

    • Matt Saternus

      Billy,

      The short answer is: maybe.
      Long answer: There are some good, smart people who work at big box retailers (I used to be one of them). They will do everything they can with the resources they have to make sure that you get the best fit, but the resources that they have simply don’t compare to a Club Champion. The main problem is that there are far more people in those stores who, through ignorance or malice, can’t provide you with much help. And unless you are very knowledgeable in your own right (which you may be), it can be hard to tell the good people from the bad.

      Unless you’re one of these people who changes clubs like most people change underwear, I would make the trip to one of the Chicagoland Club Champion locations. Like so many things, you can do it right once or you can try to it on the cheap and then pay for it later.

      Hope that helps.

      Best,

      Matt

    • Brian Anderson

      Billy,
      I live in Bowling Green, Ohio. I researched Club Champion Willowbrook for two years. I finally decided it was time for new clubs. I drove 5 1/2 hours for a full bag fitting. The staff are experts at what they do and will maximize every club in your bag. I highly recommend Club Champion Willowbrook. By the way, I used to work for Golf Galaxy.

      Regards,

      Brian

  2. Bill Marshall

    enjoyed reading mythes.

  3. Amirul Shah

    I’m interested to know about how irons fitting affects performance since it involves lie angle adjustment as well. Hope you can write about that too ;)

  4. As a player, teacher and Club Fitter I have found that the correct combination of shaft, weight, flex and Grip, yes even a grip can make a difference can help give a player his max. But, the big factor is what the player has and what their actual ability is.

  5. Pingback: Reader Reviews - Fujikura Shaft Fittings Part 1 - Plugged In Golf

  6. Tom Duckworth

    I wanted to echo Amirul Shah’s comment and ask, Do you notice a bigger difference from before to after with Driver fittings vs. iron fittings? My irons fit me as far as length and lie and shaft stiffness that matches my swing speed but I always went by feel and ball flight on the range and course.
    What feels good to me never by any real numbers I have never been fit in that way. I plan to got to Golf MD here in Kansas with an open mind and just try whatever they want me to hit and see what works best even if it’s not what I had in mind. I would think there would be one shaft that fits me best and a range of club heads that would be pretty close to each other. If it’s super GI irons I’ll kill myself.

  7. Bobby. E. Phillips

    I live in Southeast Missouri. Can you recommend several club fitters in the St. Louis area?

  8. Definitely true. I gained a lot from my first good fitting. A more important question for the followers of this site might be, how much distance am I missing out on if I haven’t been fit lately? I was fit with a golf digest top 100 fitter, outdoors, on track man and gained about ten yards and became more accurate. That was now three years ago. Would getting fit again and spending 900$ on a new driver/shaft combo gain me another 10 yards? 20? I suspect most plugged in readers have been fit. But we might want to see a test of how much getting re-fit would gain us. Love these tests though.

    • Matt Saternus

      Jake,

      Good questions.
      If you’re just thinking about “Will new equipment beat gear from three years ago?” the answer is typically no. There are some improvements over that time span – like the PING G400’s more aerodynamic head – but they usually won’t add up to 10+ yards on their own.
      If a player changes their swing substantially – speed, angle of attack, club path, dynamic loft – then a new fitting could bring substantial gains because the player’s needs are different.

      Best,

      Matt

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