Accurate fitting starts with accurate information.
A considerable amount of my time is devoted communicating with customers on what equipment they may need. This is no easy task as you can’t physically see them swing so you have to rely on what information they can provide. One important question I often ask is “What club do you use from 150 yards out”. This is an important question in regards to shaft flex to get a barometer at what flex to suggest.
Golfers that have played for a while might take what seems like such a simple question for granted. But for beginners, they truly do not know how far they hit each club. Even golfers who play infrequently cannot answer the question without guessing. Just the other day I had a customer who said at first he hit his 5-iron 200 yards, then minutes later he was saying maybe it was closer to 150 yards. Clubfitters know that the person hitting the 5-iron closer to 200 yards will need a much stiffer shaft than someone hitting the club at 150 yards.
More importantly, one should know their distance from a safety point of view. The course that I have played the most often has white markers indicating the position 150 yards from the center of the green. I know exactly what club to pull out depending upon the wind and elevation at this mark. But if you are uncertain, the result is the difference between hitting the green and possibly saving a stroke or not. Let’s say we have a beginning male golfer who does not know how far each club goes. If he pulls out a 3-wood, chances are the ball could go soaring past the green and possibly hit fellow golfers or smash a window in a car or someone’s house. If you pull out a wedge, there is virtually no chance of getting the ball there. So one can relative the importance of knowing just how far you are capable of hitting the ball.
A professional golfer will know they hit their 7-iron 172 yards. Not 170, or 175, but 172. For us mere mortals who don’t hit the ball as solidly the 5 yards increments are good enough. Once you know how far you hit a club or what club you use from a certain distance, then the other clubs are easy to figure out. For instance, if you hit your 6 irons from 150 yards, then you can count on your 7 iron to go 140 and your 5-iron 160 yards. Just add / subtract 10 yards to each club as a guideline.
Before heading out the course the first time, invest some time at the range. Take notes on how far you hit certain clubs and write it down and put in your golf bag for future use. Also, if you will be fitted for custom made clubs, please be sure you can answer the question with some degree of confidence, “What club would I use from 150 yards out?”