A reader recently sent a note suggesting that he wasn't all that impressed with a fitting because he wasn't getting that much more yardage with his tee shots. I know it might be sacrilege to suggest this, but such a scenario might be possible. It also might be a little short-sighted, if you know what I mean.
Here's what I'm getting at: Let's just say you've been fit for a driver in the last few years, dialed it in perfectly with one of our top 100 club fitters. Not unlike, say, the winner of this year's (and last year's and the year before that's) John Deere Classic. Steve Stricker won on Sunday with a Titleist 909D3 driver, a club we first saw nearly three years ago. My sense is it works just fine for him, and I don't imagine there's much argument to that ($7.5 in the last year and a half, you do the math).
Maybe you're one of the lucky ones who's got the perfect fitting driver like Stricker and never misses the sweet spot, like Stricker. But real clubfitting is about more than the driver. And it's more than just another 10 yards.
Instead, if you get a qualified fitter to look at your whole bag, what he or she is likely to find are several opportunities for some secret gains that go beyond yardage. Here are three to consider:
*__ Driver. Maybe your dead-center hits are about the same with your old driver compared to your new driver. What about those off-center hits? As Brandon Collier at Pure Performance Golf Labs in Naples, Fla., a Golf Digest Top 100 Clubfitter, points out, "Let's say a max hit goes 230, but the distance range runs down to 200 on the older driver. With a new, better fitting driver, maybe the worst hits are only 220. That improves the average by a lot."
I don't think it's logical to expect every golfer to gain 10, 15 or more yards just because of a driver fitting. I do think it's highly unlikely that a golfer who has never been fit for a driver will walk into a fitting and not see some improvement in either his best hits, his driving distance average, his accuracy or all three. The best fitters, like the ones on our list, aren't going to push you into a new driver just because one exists, only if it proves to be significantly better than what you're currently playing.
Irons. A proper fitting can get you major distance improvements in your irons. Not exactly because the technology in irons has advanced dramatically, but because a fitting might get you more on-center hits with less effort. Roy Nix at McNix Golf in Columbus, Ga., a Golf Digest Top 100 Clubfitter and the founder of the Association of Golf Clubfitting Professionals says that the right mix of ingredients in an iron fitting is all enhancing the abilities you already have, even if you don't think you have golf abilities.
"A reasonably decent golfer who's been playing for years should have some kind of repeatable swing in him somewhere. If he can walk and not fall down, he's repeating a step. If he can shake hands, he's got pretty good hand-eye coordination. If he can shake hands and get his hand parallel to yours, he should be able to get that same hand in position to get his palm lined up at the target without a club, doing an air swing. If he grips the club with his palms parallel to the face of the club and his club fits, then, by golly, he ought to be able to use the club as an extension of his hand and point his palm at the target at impact and hit pretty straight shots most of the time. My job is to find the right length, right total weight, right balance of weight from grip to head to allow him to do this consistently. Then, I can find a shaft that feels good to him and tweak his performance a bit and have him hitting the ball better." To illustrate his point, Nix says after a recent fitting he added 30 yards to a couple of golfers' 5-irons. Adding yardage and consistency to every club in your bag may be more meaningful to your score than any yardage gain from a driver fitting. Putter. If you haven't considered a putter fitting and you're not already the best putter at your club, do it. Devices like the SAM PuttLab, the Tomi and even iPad applications like Ping's iPing are showing you the inconsistencies and the flaws in your stroke that could be alleviated with a change in your putter or its specifications. Companies like Edel Golfand Coutour literally bring putter fitting to your course. But look at it in a more practical way: If you can go from 34 putts a round to 30, that's going to make for a more dramatic improvement in your handicap than any yards you get with the driver. So while we're all for getting more distance, it's important to remember that to truly benefit from a fitting, you need to examine your whole bag. *