A Frequently Asked Question
One of the most frequently asked and hotly debated issues in fitting is whether it’s better to be fit indoors or outdoors. In this lesson, I’ll discuss the positive and negative aspects of each and also give you my recommendation for getting the best fit possible.
Indoor fitting is much more prevalent, and it offers a lot of benefits. Here’s my synopsis of the pros and cons.
The biggest advantage to indoor fitting is that the conditions are always the same. You’ll always be in a warm, level environment, none of your shots will be knocked offline by the wind, and every shot will be hit from the same lie. This allows for the most scientific comparison of clubs possible. It’s also worth noting that because indoor fittings don’t move, the launch monitors are going to be perfectly set-up and calibrated.
Additionally, indoor fitting is more convenient. An indoor fitting is never cancelled because of cold or rain, and you can have one done virtually any day of the year.
Finally, you will usually have more shaft and head options at an indoor fitting compared to an outdoor fitting. This is simply a matter of logistics. Club Champion, for instance, has dozens of shafts and heads in their studios – every flex, weight, and model imaginable. To bring all that to an outdoor fitting isn’t impossible, but is impractical. If you want to be able to try absolutely everything, your best bet is going to be an established indoor fitting center.
There are two potential drawbacks to indoor fitting. First, you don’t get to see the ball flight. With the level of accuracy in today’s launch monitors, I don’t view this as a major issue, but for some players it can be a deal breaker. Some golfers have a particular trajectory that they like to see from certain clubs, and that can be difficult to judge on a screen. The other common complaint about indoor fitting is that the hitting area can be claustrophobic. Obviously, this applies to some indoor fitters but not others – some indoor hitting bays are huge!
With the thousands of demo days that happen at ranges every year, plenty of fitting happens outside. Let’s examine the good and bad of testing clubs outdoors.
There are two major benefits to outdoor fitting: getting to see ball flight and hitting shots in “real” conditions. There’s no question that seeing the ball flight is important because it removes any doubt about what a particular club is doing for you. Again, launch monitors are great and very accurate, but some people simply need to see it for themselves.
Additionally, some players also prefer hitting shots outside. They may like to feel the turf interaction of the irons they’re trying, or they may simply like to be free from any walls or nets. While I would chalk this up largely to preference, there is an objective benefit to outdoor fitting when it comes to simulating different lies and fitting for short game clubs.
The first issue with outdoor fittings is well known to anyone who actually plays golf: weather. We’ve all watched that perfect drive slapped down by a gust of wind, or a beautiful draw turned into an OB hook by a swirling breeze. Wind, temperature, and rain can all negatively impact the evaluation of clubs. Weather also makes outdoor fitting an impossibility on some days.
Beyond that, there’s often limited choice at outdoor fitting for logistical reasons. You may have only the most popular options to select from as opposed to comprehensive selection you’d get indoors.
When it comes to being fit for my clubs, I prefer to be fit indoors and then test on the range and the course. For me, nothing can outweigh the value of having perfect conditions for every shot. There are so many variables in club fitting – shaft flex, weight, bend point, loft, face angle, etc – and I want to eliminate as many as possible.
Additionally, there’s very little risk these days. From the big boxes to the high-end fitters, virtually everyone offers some kind of guarantee that you’ll be happy with your clubs. If, by some fluke, a club that performs brilliantly on the monitor is a dud on the course, simply bring it back and get fit for something else.
Ultimately, whether you choose to get fit indoor or outdoors, at a big box, demo day, or a high end fitter, the important thing is getting fit. In this day and age, there’s simply no reason for any golfer to buy off the rack.