From Good to Great: Club Fitting at Club Champion

An Ego Free Fitting

I love my irons.  I’ve been playing the PING iBlades since they came out, and, this past spring, Club Champion rebuilt them with True Temper DG Pro shafts and made them even better.

That said, I don’t play that much golf.  I have two young daughters, and most days I’d rather build Legos with them than beat balls on the range.  The iBlades are great, but there are days when my swing isn’t.  I decided it was time to visit Club Champion and accept any iron recommendation that yielded better results, even if it didn’t mesh with my self-image as a “better player.”

The Club Champion Fitting Process

My iron fitting was done by Master Fitter Kyle Morris at Club Champion’s Willowbrook location.  I’ve known Kyle for a long time, but he took nothing for granted in my fitting.  He started with an in-depth interview about my game and a spec check on my irons.  Then we headed to the fitting bay.

After a warm up, we gathered some baseline data.  My beliefs were confirmed: my irons are great for me.  Good swings had great smash factor and ideal launch.  The one area of concern was spin: mine was a little low, which hurts carry distance and stopping power.  Kyle and I agreed on our goals: shrinking dispersion, increasing spin, and improving smash factor, if possible.

Step #1: Find the Best Shaft

Kyle set Club Champion’s iBlade head to my spec, and we started testing shafts.  Dialing in the shaft comes before selecting the head in the Club Champion fitting process.

I hit everything that I was handed without judgement.  Kyle gave me shafts that were lighter, heavier, softer, and stiffer.  Some were shafts that I had tested and really enjoyed, like the Nippon Modus.  Others were completely off my radar, like the Oban Steel CT.

Kyle frequently asked for my feedback, but most of the time it just confirmed what he was already seeing.  We both knew pretty quickly when a shaft was worth further consideration or if I was fighting it.

The shaft battle came down to two finalists: the True Temper Dynamic Gold AMT and the KBS C-Taper Lite.  Interestingly, the former was a stiff flex, the latter an X.  A few more swings with each confirmed that the C-Taper Lite was providing a little more distance than my gamer while shrinking my dispersion.

Step #2: Select the Head

With the shaft set, Kyle lined up a series of iron heads for testing.  Despite my best intentions, I couldn’t help but sneak a peek at what he had chosen.  I saw the new Callaway X-Forged, the Titleist 718 AP2, the Miura CB 1008, and the Mizuno MP-18 SC lined up on the table.

With the heads, Kyle asked for more feedback on feel and preference.  Unlike the shafts, none of the heads were tossed after a swing or two – all performed well.  That said, some patterns did emerge.  I didn’t get along with the X-Forged, and the AP2 was a little short on distance.  After a head to head battle, the Miura topped the Mizuno as the best fit.

The final results: I gained 5 yards of carry distance through an increase in ball speed and slightly higher spin.  Most importantly, my dispersion shrank both left-to-right and short-to-long.

Learning

I was a little puzzled by the result, and I reminded Kyle that I was open to anything that he wanted me to try.  If he thought that an SGI iron would give me better numbers, I was game.  He shook his head and explained, “Those forgiving irons  all have stronger lofts than what we tested.  They’re also designed for lower spin.  You need to keep your launch angle up and have more spin.”

Said another way, he could have found a 6I that was longer than the Miura, but then the 4I and 5I would have been unplayable.  Plus I would have a set with bigger distance gaps between clubs and a need for an additional wedge.  What’s the upside?

Kyle continued, “Your misses aren’t going to benefit that much from a big forgiving head.  No club is going to help when you hit it fat, which has been your main concern.  Outside of hitting a couple heavy shots, you strike it well enough to play these irons.”

To me, this highlights the importance of a top notch club fitter.  It would have been easy for him to give me a stronger-lofted 6I and say, “Yeah, that goes farther, play that.”  Instead, he considered how my swing would work with the rest of the set.  Additionally, he considered my specific mishits when selecting the level of forgiveness needed.

Dialing In Specs

The final step was fitting the lie angle.  This is one of the most common aspects of club fitting, but many fitters get it wrong, or, at best, only partially right.  Kyle set up the iron with impact tape on the face, lie tape on the sole, and then set a ball on the lie board.  He collected the tape after each shot I hit.

After a series of strikes, we looked at the results.  I was marking the sole tape toward the toe, but Kyle explained that the sole tape is only one part of the equation.  He also considers the ball flight and the impact location on the face.

The sole tape alone told him to make the irons more upright.  However, my more common miss is toward the heel – something that would be exacerbated by more upright irons.  Additionally, my miss is to the left – another problem that upright irons would make worse.  With the two more important indicators – ball flight and impact location – pointing toward a neutral lie angle, that’s what we chose.

Accessorize and Customize

With all the heavy lifting complete, Kyle and I moved on to picking out grips.  Club Champion carries a wide variety of grips from Golf Pride, Lamkin, NO1, Iomic, and Gripmaster.  Additionally, they can manipulate the shape and size of the grip by using different amounts of tape during installation.

Despite the many more colorful options, I selected a Golf Pride Z-Cord, midsize, with extra wraps of tape under the right hand to remove the taper.

If you want to personalize your irons, Club Champion can do that, too.  From custom stamping to colorful ferrules to unique paint fills, their master builders can make your clubs a true one of one.

Conclusion

It never ceases to amaze me how much there is to learn about club fitting.  Despite having been fit over a dozen times, I still learn something every time I go through the process.  It also amazed me that, despite having well-fit clubs, there were still gains to be made.  With the range of high quality club heads and shafts from all manufacturers, Club Champion can help almost everyone improve their performance on the course.
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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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19 Comments

  1. I have been fit into the MP18 SC with C-Taper Lite X too, but the Miura CB has been completely off my radar. With the complete understanding that I would get fit for the Miuras if I decide to go that direction, how close were the results for you and what were the differences between the two? Thanks!

    • Matt Saternus

      Cocheese,

      The Miura was a hair longer, and I prefer the feel of the Miura. That said, if the Miura didn’t exist, I would have been pretty happy with the SC.

      Best,

      Matt

  2. Can you share the ball-park price that a normal (non-golf oriented website author) would have paid for the same service you received? And if I understand the article correctly, if a golfer, with – say – a 10 handicap wants to see his handicap index drop, and is considering a Club Fitting for the first time, that same golfer should expect not just to pay for the fitting, but also consider the fact that a new set of clubs is in their immediate future.

    • Matt Saternus

      Ernest,

      An iron fitting at Club Champion costs $150. The cost for the irons is not included in that, and the fitting cost is not applied to the purchase of irons. Fittings are between 33% and 50% off from now through 1/31.

      Best,

      Matt

      • Matt,

        Thank you for replying. So if I understand correctly:
        1) the cost of the Club Fitting itself to identify the proper club specifications (shaft style, club head lie angle, grip, etc..)
        2) the cost of new IRONS that match those previous identified specifications
        3) this article doesn’t mention any “tinkering” with your Driver, 3W, 5W, or putter

        To put that in perspective for me, I would be choosing between my upcoming Membership (golfing all summer 2-3 times a week), or getting a Club Fitting to lower my score. That’s a tough pill to swallow, in my opinion.

        • Matt Saternus

          Ernest,

          Correct, the cost of the club fitting is independent.
          Club Champion can fit your entire bag, driver through putter, but this fitting/article was focused on the irons.

          Best,

          Matt

  3. Interesting read. At the beginning of the article you say Club Champion rebuilt your irons with the DG Pro shaft. Now they say the C-taper light is the best shaft for you. Why did you ever have the DG Pro put in if the the Ctaper is best? Thanks in advance!

    • Matt Saternus

      MG,

      Good question. Two things are at play there:

      1) The DG Pro was recommended to me, not something I was fit into. It was a REALLY GOOD recommendation based on some REALLY GOOD data, and it performed really well (and still does). When I was given that recommendation, the person doing the recommending did not have a C-Taper Lite for me to try.

      2) The C-Taper Lite outperformed the DG Pro by a slim margin. Would I rather have that extra performance? Absolutely. Would I play bad golf if I had to stick with the DG Pro? Not even close. You’re talking about two of the best three shafts for me out of dozens (hundreds?) of options. It’s conceivable that on a different day I’d hit the DG Pro that little bit better.

      Best,

      Matt

  4. Matt,
    I’m scheduled for my first full bag fitting at Club Champion and I’m really looking forward to it. Do you have any tips or suggestions that may help me get the most out of this experience?

    • Matt Saternus

      Mike,

      Great question. The answer deserves an entire post (I’ll put one together soon), but some ideas off the top of my head: be very honest with your fitter, don’t be afraid to tell them when you like or dislike something, take breaks when you need to (a full bag fitting is a marathon), and relax and enjoy it.

      Best,

      Matt

      • Thank you Matt, I look forward to that post! Happy New Year to you and the rest of the Plugged In Crew.

        • Peter Simshauser

          Mike — FWIW, I did a full bag fitting at CC last summer, and sort of wish I had broken it up into two sessions. As Matt said, it’s a marathon to do the entire bag in one session. Good luck!

          • Thanks Peter, I’m going to ask for 2 sessions. I’ll learn from your suffering. Lol How did the clubs turn out for you?

  5. Sean Thomas

    Hi Matt,

    You mention in this article that you didnt get along with the X forged. However I read the review you did on that club and it seemed that you liked it as it appeared to be a positive review. Can you explain the difference in your opinion between the two articles? I’m considering the X forged and trying to gather as much info as possible.

    Thanks,
    Sean T

    • Matt Saternus

      Sean,

      The X Forged is a fine club, and objectively it’s as good as anything else I tried in this fitting. On this given day, however, I didn’t swing it as well as I did others.

      Best,

      Matt

  6. Hi Matt! I always read your reviews and appreciate your insight! After spending time with both the Miura and the SC, was there a concernable difference in forgiveness? Would you recommend one over the other if you were looking for that extra help? Thanks much!

    • Matt Saternus

      Brian,

      No, I wouldn’t say there’s a big difference in forgiveness. I’d go with the one you prefer the look and feel of.

      Best,

      Matt

  7. Thank you! Would you say the 919 Forged is less punishing on off center hits or similar to the CB 1008s? Versus the SCs? Similar? Thanks again!

    • Matt Saternus

      Brian,

      In the grand scheme, they are all very similar. If forced to rank them, I think the 919 Forged may be slightly more forgiving.

      Best,

      Matt

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