In the last two years, 83 different irons have been named to the Golf Digest Hot List. So to say the iron selection process is the most complicated golfers face is an understatement. That’s why getting with a qualified expert is so vital. We surveyed some of Golf Digest’s 100 Best Clubfitters for some tips on not merely understanding your choices but how to properly narrow them, too.
For the best clubfitters, your iron search will start with a short interview—to make sure there's a clear direction on what your purchasing golas are. That interview process with a fitter can determine not only what kind of irons might fit your current game, but what might work best with where your game is headed. Craig Zimmerman at Oregon’s RedTail Golf Center, a perennial 100 Best Clubfitter location, assesses a player in terms of whether he or she needs clubs that compensate or enhance an ability level.
“For example, if a player is taking lessons and trending lower in handicap, we will plot them more toward the enhancement end of the fitting spectrum,” Zimmerman said. “As such, we will look at models that they can ‘grow into.’ In contrast, if a player works a ton, has a family and rarely practices, we would plot them more toward compensation and look for a club that is more forgiving.”
The goal should be getting the number of irons you actually test to a level that’s not going to leave you too tired for you—or your fitter—to make a proper evaluation. While Golf Digest’s Hot List features four categories of irons—Players, Players Distance, Game Improvement and Super Game Improvement—it’s best to limit your focus to two of these categories and sometimes one is all you need.
“The number of categories depend largely on your ability level,” said John Ioris of 100 Best Clubfitter location The Complete Golfer in New York. “If you are a high handicap player, I would confine your trial to normal game-improvement models. The grey area comes when a player is in between categories. This is where your fitter will be invaluable. Take his advice and put your ego aside.”
But there is no ideal number, says Nick Sherburne, co-founder of Club Champion, the national chain of clubfitting locations that also has been part of the 100 Best Clubfitter list since its inception in 2011. The launch monitor is an important guide to show you which clubs are yielding the most consistent results, not merely the one hit that went the farthest.
“Let the fitter pick based on trying to get to the best numbers,” he said. “Then once they have their job done make sure you hit anything you wanted to that the fitter didn’t grab, to eliminate it from your brain. Remember you want to leave a fitting feeling like you solved the issues with your equipment and feel good about it.”
Of course as important as the numbers are, do not ignore what your eyes are telling you, too.
“We always tell our golfers we can’t see what you see, feel what you feel or hear what you hear,” said Dan Sueltz of Colorado’s D’Lance Golf, a five-time selection to Golf Digest’s 100 Best Clubfitter list. “Look and feel is critical. Actually, even if the player doesn’t tell us, we can easily tell from the fitting results that a club is not setting up well to the player’s eye.”