Stop Chasing Perfect
It’s important for me to say this up front: I’m not anti club fitting. In fact, I may be the most pro club fitting person you’ll find. With that said:
There’s no such thing as the perfect club fitting.
In this lesson, I’m going to explain why that’s true, and why that shouldn’t stop you from being fit.
This Lesson Is For You If:
You’ve been fit but are second-guessing the results
You haven’t been fit because you’re waiting for “the right time”
You change equipment constantly searching for perfection
What Is Perfect?
Let me be clear about what I mean when I say that there is no perfect club fitting. I’m saying that there is no club fitting that will eliminate all your bad shots. There is no club fitting that will last forever. There is no club fitting that will eliminate all the doubt in your head about what might have been if you had picked Club X instead of Club Y.
One More Note
As I say all the time, there are a million different ways to enjoy golf. If equipment is the part of golf that revs your engine, that’s awesome. Buy all the clubs. Get fit every week. Just understand that what you’re doing isn’t about playing better, it’s about having fun with gear, which is totally fine.
The Perfect Club Fitting Doesn’t Exist
There are five reasons why there is no such thing as a perfect club fitting. Here they are, in a rough order of importance.
#1: Golfers are inconsistent and dynamic
Everyone complains about their game is inconsistency, so we’ll start there. Every golfer on the planet is capable of hitting a beautiful, pure, center-of-the-club face shot. We’re also capable of moving a couple inches over and hitting one off the hosel. Most shots are somewhere in between. With this level of variance, how can you expect a fitting to be perfect? You might make your best swings with Club A whereas Club B gets some mediocre chops. Is that you or the club? Who’s to say?
An analogy: when you get a suit tailored, you are consistently one size. Your chest isn’t shrinking and expanding, your belly isn’t popping out and flattening. Because you stay the same size (at least during the fitting), you can expect a perfect fit. If you were shrinking and swelling, the tailor would have to do his best to capture your average size and leave a little room on the margins, which is what the club fitter does.
Then there’s the fact that humans are dynamic. The game and body you bring to your fitting aren’t the exact same as what you’ll bring to your round a week, a month, or a year later. You will get stronger or weaker, you’ll have injuries, growth and setbacks, improvements and losses of skill. All these will affect the way that you interact with your clubs.
#2: Preference is important and variable
There are two people whose preferences will impact the fitting: the player and the fitter. Preference is personal, and it’s a completely valid part of the fitting process, but it’s not scientific and thus confounds our ability to find perfect.
A fitter’s preferences impact the fitting in a myriad of ways. First, every fitter has preferences for certain brands or products that they’ve seen players have success with. This isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, this is exactly the kind of knowledge and experience that we are paying the fitter for! If 8 of the last 10 slicers that they fit ended up with Product X, they would be doing a disservice to the next slicer if they didn’t hand her Product X.
Additionally, every fitter has preferences for the kind of results they want to see. Some fitters are more swayed by the average performance of a given club. Other fitters may see more value in highlighting your best swings. Fitter A may value iron distance and Fitter B may prefer stopping power. All of these views are defensible. There is no one right answer. There is no perfect fit.
The player’s preferences add another layer of subjectivity. You may like certain looks, sounds, and feels that I think are total turn offs, and vice versa. There’s also a question of how much you’re willing to give up in one area to get what you want somewhere else. Will you sacrifice five yards of distance to hear a better impact sound? What about ten? Finally, is there one shot you can’t stomach [more about that HERE]? A good fitter can probably eliminate it, but at what cost?
#3: You can’t try everything
Club Champion is the best club fitter around. They have well over 40,000 possible combinations of heads and shafts. But even they don’t have everything; no fitter does. If I want a 100 gram senior flex driver shaft, I’m out of luck. Ditto for the 30 gram X flex. Every fitter carries as much as they reasonably can, but no one has every single thing.
Additionally, there’s a physical limit on how many swings you can make. Even if Club Champion had every shaft in every weight in every flex, your body would give out before you could try every one.
#4: You can always blame your clubs…
…and you won’t be entirely wrong! If you had a stiffer shaft, that hooked drive might have ended up in the fairway. Now if we’re being fair, the slice you hit earlier may have been worse and the three good drives you hit might have been OB, but, yes, a stiffer shaft might have saved that one hook.
No matter how good the fitting is, no matter how much we spend on our clubs, no matter how much we practice, we will hit bad shots. And, in theory, those shots could have been saved by different equipment choices. But those different equipment choices would have produced different bad shots at other times.
#5: There are a lot of similar clubs
Within any given category – let’s take game improvement irons – most clubs will perform fairly similarly. In one sense, this is great: it’s hard to make a huge mistake. The downside is that, in trying to decide between two GI irons, you may really be splitting hairs. The scales may tilt toward whichever one you swing a little better.
This is the kind of thing that leads to buyer’s remorse and second guessing when you play a bad round with those new clubs. But remember, as I said above, bad shots and bad rounds are going to happen no matter what choices you make.
So Why Bother with Club Fitting?
The short answer is that perfect is not the enemy of good.
There is no alternative to a high quality club fitting if you want to play your best golf. Period. Full stop.
If you get your clubs fit by a high quality fitter, it will raise the floor and the ceiling of your game. Your worst shots will be better. Your best shots will be better. A higher percentage of your shots will be good shots. You will be more consistent.
Great equipment is important to playing good golf. There isn’t anyone on Tour who is choosing to play clubs that aren’t optimized for them. You shouldn’t either.
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I always go back and forth on fittings. I’m a mid to high handicap and am far from consistent. I may tweak my swing multiple times throughout the year so I figure is it worth it to get fit to a swing that may not stick around through the summer? Should i try to get a swing down first with a group of lessons prior to getting fit? Will that make the fit more worth it?
At the risk of sounding condescending (not my intent), you may be tweaking your swing feels, but it’s extremely unlikely that anything substantial is changing in your swing if you’re messing with it multiple times per year. Real, meaningful swing changes take a long time to ingrain. All that to say, go get fit. You’ll play better, and, if you do make some massive change later, a good fitter will work with you to get your clubs to match.
Well said ! I have had several fittings and after the 1st fitting my expectations were very high and as a result I was sometimes disappointed with the results from subsequent fittings. Your point about the fitter preferences is very true all fitters have biases probably based on past success or failure. I have learned from each fitting and the related results (what worked what did not) and now understand my club preferences and this has helped getting the fitter pointed in the correct direction from the start. That being said if you are an avid golfer and have not had a fitting I suggest it to improve your game and help you understand your tendencies.
I could not agree more. When you hit a ton of balls you get to a swing you aren’t bringing to the course most of the time (An argument to limit practice ball numbers*, for another discussion), I’m an former orthopedist with a deep background in biomechanics, In ortho surgery we also have the motto “The enemy of good is better”. Muscles don’t have memories, we more have fatal flaws we revert to more often than changes that stick, Haney even went into this in his Tiger book. You must have game to bring
I believe in finding head types/styles and shaft types especially flight and take advantage of local free fitting days and narrow it down to options and pick what also looks good to you as you must have confidence. Then make a decision. I think most change clubs too often. There is no magic, but you can make positive changes to equipment.
*As I may have said on here another place – When you hit 10 drivers in a row, remember you are lying 19. So be careful of that perfect set of numbers after 20 balls.
I totally enjoy the club fitting experience. Over the years, at different times, I’ve been fitted for all my current clubs, including recently a new putter. The thing that bothers me about the process is the cost; but not the cost of the fitting; the cost of the clubs. Why can’t the manufacturers and the club fitters stock heads and shafts separately? Why do I have to buy a set of irons with standard shafts from the manufacturer, and then have to pay AGAIN for new shafts that fit me? Now I have a set of stock shafts I paid for and no use for them. Why can’t I just buy the heads and shafts as individual items?
There is no reason to buy the stock clubs with stock shafts. My fitter offered heads and shafts and grips independent of the club head manufacturer. .
Great article! Question for you: Since almost all fittings happen on a mat, how do they address turf interaction? Some companies like Srixon (I believe) claim that is one of the most important things you can look at. Thoughts?
A good fitter can do a lot by ear and with a lie board. In my opinion, turf interaction isn’t a major factor except for high level players.
I got fitted a couple months ago, I have not received my irons yet .
This was my first fitting. I was surprised how much it cost.
I’m not a cheap person but I highly doubt I will do it again, unless I see great results.
Probably the best article on the subject I’ve ever read. I’ve been playing 60 years and been professionally fit probably 10 times. Few results remained satisfactory for entire season. Why? For all the reasons stated in the article. Not the fault of any fitter. My game changes like the weather. I’ve also done my own club work for probably 20 years. I still get fitted when buying a new driver. But I’ve learned to count on certain shaft manufacturers. I rely on their consistency in terms of flex, weight, torque etc. So like an old pair of shoes I’m comfortable in my expectations. If I’m comfortable with my club (driver, fairway, hybrid) and it starts to take a sabbatical I just switch out shafts. Some of my shafts may be 20 years old . But its like putting a new orthotic in that old pair of shoes
Matt – My son has been an occasional golfer the last ten years and just replaced my old Cleveland TA 4 irons with last years Cobra one length. He is now thinking about woods. My question is one of “sequence.” Range time, lessons then fitting or fitting sooner?
Enjoy the website!
Get the fitting now but let the fitter know if lessons are on the horizon.
Matt: I am a 71 year old 12 handicap currently playing Titleist SM7 irons that were fitted by Club Champion. I was wondering what would be the impact on my swing if I switch my Golf Pride standard grips to medium grips? I have found I have a very strong right hand that often closes the club face at impact resulting in a strong draw flight. Would a medium grip help with this tendency to miss left?
It’s possible that a larger grip can “quiet” the release a bit, though we didn’t find data for that in our test: https://pluggedingolf.com/does-grip-size-matter-golf-myths-unplugged/
Bigger grips will also lower the swing weight of the clubs.
Wow, what an awesome article! I have done this many times and was laughing when I saw someone else questioning their fit.
Thanks again for this one,
fitting shorter players
I really enjoy your material!! I’ve been fit a few times at demo days and at a local golf shop. I’ve been looking into getting a full bag fitting or at least a driver fitting at club champion or true spec in Chicago. You seem to be a big fan of Club Champion. What in your mind makes them stand out over the other fitting options in the Chicago area.
Among high level fitters, there are few objective differences – everyone has high quality tech and similarly impressive demo matrices (though I don’t know if anyone’s is quite as extensive as CC). The difference is really the people. Club Champion spends a ton of time and money recruiting and training high level fitters. Beyond that, I’ve known the key people at CC for over a decade and there aren’t better people in golf. They care about what they do, they care about golfers, they are golfers. To me, that elevates them above the rest.
Thanks Matt for the detailed response. Much appreciated.
what good sensible advice great read
Great post/podcast; everyone has preferences and biases including fitters. Even if multiple fitters come up with different answers it doesn’t mean you got poor fittings.
Wonderful point! Thank you.
Spot on. Every day is different. Have fun with clubs and new stuff. Get fitted by a qualified fitter, not someone who just works in a store. Practice.