The old cliché “People are like snowflakes; no two are alike” pertains very much why your clubs need customized. When manufacturers make mass-produced or “stock” clubs, they are doing so by establishing an average. Whether it be producing the club length based on the average height of men and women, grip sizes to average players hand sizes, shaft flex based on average strengths of golfers, the manufacturer has to establish some baseline so their clubs can fit as broad of an array of golfers as possible. If you are buying clubs off the rack, then you need to ask yourself “I am Mr. (or Mrs.) Average?” There is a very good chance you are not.
Even the manufacturers of brand name equipment know that producing a one-club-that-fits-all mentality does not work as most major manufacturers offer custom options as they too realize the importance of it. The problem for manufacturers though, is that they are set up for mass producing the same product repeatedly instead of making one set (or club) at a time.
Not only is it more time consuming to get the product into a potential customer’s hand, but more costly as well. Plus they do not have that personal contact with the player that a custom clubmaker or clubfitter does.
Custom fitting golf clubs can be an easy process in which it does not that much time to answer a few questions and depending upon who you by them from, may not take long to make up and have them ready for you to play. Be aware that there are many companies posing as a “Custom Fitter” that really aren’t as they may not have that expertise to put two and two together. Let’s go over a few questions that are commonly asked and examine the importance.
What is your gender?
In general, women golfers are shorter than male golfers and likely to have smaller hands and not swing as fast. However, there are certain women golfers who are just as strong as, if not stronger than a lot of male golfers. Take one look at the LPGA tour if you are not convinced. A good guess it that not one of them is using standard L-flex clubs off the rack by their respective club manufacturers. Many of them use drivers longer than those used on the PGA tour and some of which use stiff flex shafts.
What is your age?
Believe it or not, this should have little or no bearing on custom fitting at all. While it may be true that many very young junior golfers or those who are elderly probably don’t swing as hard a twenty-something year old, some do. But those golfers who are older may suffer from hand or joint related pain and may require grips that might be larger and softer than their hand size may indicate or would be better off using graphite shafts to help dampen some of the unwanted vibration at impact. But the idea of as we get older, the softer the shaft we should use, may not be true. If the golfer’s swing arc becomes shorter due to not being as flexible, they may still require the same flex shaft as when they were younger and stronger.
What is your handicap?
This is should be asked only for the sake of clubhead design. Golfers, who are beginning or are less skilled, should have different equipment than those who can strike the ball in the middle of the face on a consistent basis. Plus, the majority of golfers do not even establish a handicap. A more important question is what is your average score for 9 or 18 holes? If you score is high, then the clubfitter should seek as much game-improvement features into the clubs as possible.
What is your height?
This establishes a starting point for what length you should use. Remember though, some golfers have long arms, some shorter. This may be followed up by asking your wrist-to-floor measurement to help eliminate any anomalies. The other thing to consider is the posture or stance of the golfer at address. Does the golfer stand very tall and bend their knees very little, or does the player hunch over? Does the person have very good hand and eye coordination that they could hit the ball well with a longer club? A clubfitter can take these things into account when building the proper length for a golfer.
What distance do you hit a 5-iron?
This is to indicate the relative strength of the golfer for the flex of the shaft. Sex, age and handicap do not dictate the proper flex – only strength! Be cautious if the distance you hit your club is short due to poor technique. Swing speed should be a determinate in shaft flex. But the other half of the equation is the golfer’s tempo (how you swing it fast). Two golfers can have exactly the same swing speed, but require totally different shaft flexes as one golfer may have a long, full fluid swing, while the other may have a quick, abbreviated swing.
The latter will need the stiffer shaft.
How large is your hand?
The importance of this is to determine the proper grip size. Grips come in all different sizes to conform to hands of all sizes and preferences of feel. However, stock club are usually only available in either ladies or men’s standard sizes, with nothing in-between, larger or smaller. The grip is the only part of the club we make contact with and it should fit properly. Plus, hand size alone may not be the only determinate to what size is best, but if you place the club in your fingers or in your palms can be of importance as well.
Many golfers will buy clubs off-the-rack, only to end up taking them to a repair shop to change the length, grips or even replace the shafts until they can hit the clubs they just bought. At Hireko, we do not have a warehouse of ready made clubs. Instead our business model is such that we can individually custom make your set that fits you the first time. Our Get Fit program is simple by using only the most relevant information necessary. Plus, we back it up by our technical support if you have any questions we have someone here to answer it for you. Unless you are confident that you are Mr. Average, then having you clubs customized is your best option to enjoy this game.
by Jeff Summitt
Hireko Technical Director