Before someone can help you straighten out your game, you have to be honest with yourself. This holds true whether you are looking to take lessons or to invest into new equipment. For example, I was talking to a potential customer not too long ago who was looking for a new set of irons, including suggestions on a shaft. I start out by asking him a little about his game. Here is a condensed recap of the conversation.
“I have been playing only a few years now and I am a 12 handicap golfer.”
“That’s great! How far would you say you hit your 7-iron?”
“I don’t know.”
“How about estimating a ballpark range, like 140, 145 or 150 yards?”
“I really can’t say to be sure.”
If you are perplexed and asking yourself how can a 12 handicap player not know how far they hit a pretty common club like a #7-iron, chances are they are not. Humans (especially men) don’t like to appear to be ignorant when it comes to their abilities so often times little white lies may be blurted out. As a fitter, sometimes you have to overcome this without demeaning or embarrassing the potential customer.
I have been involved helping fit golfers for over 20 years and you would probably think I have heard it all by now. Fitting is part science, art and psychology. You have to read into what a player said, digest it and quickly dissimulate whether the information is true, partially true or disregard totally and continue on with the fitting.
During the personal interview with the golfer (one of the most important parts of any fitting), the customer tells you they routinely draw or hook the ball off the tee with their driver. When you head out to the range or you are having them hit indoors into your net with the assistance of a launch monitor or swing analyzer, all you see is the person slicing the ball.
I have had at times golfers who are new to the game and don’t have the golf terms or lingo down pat. One of which is the difference between hooking and slicing the ball. Fair enough, we can see that when it comes time to hit to the ball during the evaluation process. That is unless it is a phone or internet fitting, in which this is the only information you have to go by. I may back it up by asking them if they swing right or left handed and follow it up by asking if the ball goes right or left to avoid confusion.
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The other type of player you may get is the ones who are obstinate and will not tell you the truth because they are embarrassed about their game and don’t want admit their failings. In this case, you and the player are at the range. The player, using their driver, slices the ball eight times in a row and says “I never do that!” As a fitter, there is no set of specifications or clubhead type that will correct for a slice one moment and then correct for a hook (if that was really the case).
I could go on and on and on with examples of certain fitting where I have tried hard at helping the customer get a club(s) that will fit their swing only to be rebuked by their own inability to be honest with their game. My best advice for golfers looking to be fitted is to be honest with your game and ability. It is far more refreshing when the player says, “My golf game stinks right now and I want to get better” rather than that same player saying “I like to work the ball and drive the ball over 300 yards”, when in fact none of that is correct. Don’t worry, the fitter is not going to write on the bathroom wall so-and-so is a slicer or tell all his friends, family and members of his golf league. Believe me the majority of golfers cannot break 100 and the fitter is used to it. Their main goal is to put you on the straight and narrow so you can enjoy this hard, but incredibly enjoyable game all that much better.