Monday, January 26, 2015

Let's talk about Fitting......

I'm sure if you're reading this and are truly interested in golf, then you've probably been "fit" for something at one time or another.  Of course, by FIT I mean you've payed $50 and had someone stand back while you hit a bunch of junk balls into a net 20 feet in front of you. Some fancy machine takes some measurements while the "technician" makes clandestine clicks and keystrokes so the computer can properly record your info. Then at the end, they suggest you buy the newest club they have and say "I think you'll really enjoy this and it'll improve your game".

Try the newest 460cc with movable weights and adjustability,
it's got a real nice profit margin..
Did I get that about right??  So here's the thing... that's bullshit. Complete and utter hogs waller, bollocks, shyte, whatever your choice phrase may be. "But you offer this service" you say, "Why would you say that?!".  Because I DON'T offer this service. I offer a solid Club Fitting -- I do not offer for you to rent my launch monitor so I can sell you clubs.

How and why do I do this? I want you to succeed at golf.  I will be the first to admit that my Club Fitting is not as cheap as the other places. At $70.00 for a set of irons, it is quite pricy to some people. I'm OK with that because again, you're not just renting my space so I can sell you something - you're renting ME for about an hours time so we can look at everything in your game. I schedule appointments and I don't offer to help others and say "I'll be back in 10 minutes, I just have to find a head cover for this guy". Oh and also, when you're done... Shhhhhhhh you get to keep your information and do whatever you want with it.  What's that? Repeat myself because you had something crazy in your ear? No... it's written. Just re-read it.

 I live by a simple philosophy:  "The memory of bad quality outweighs the shock of high prices".  In a nutshell, I charge what is fair for me to put my time and experience into the job so that you get the highest quality possible.  If you don't want to pay it, that's ok. I won't hate you. Seriously, if I had money for every time I've heard and engaged in this conversation, I would be writing this blog from sunny Florida on my back deck which overlooks the 15th hole.

Guy: I can't hit this damn club.
Me:  Oh? Is it new?
Guy: Yea I did a fitting (insert time frame) ago and I bought it then.
Me:  So you were hitting it good but now you aren't?
Guy: No, I got fit with my old clubs. I special ordered this because the fitter said it would work based          on my numbers.
Me:  Numbers? Your club speed or your bank balance?

While the majority of places put you on a simulator and have you hit crap balls and take computer measurements, I do more than that:

1.  We get the "life specs" on all your current clubs.  Length, loft, lie, swing weight, frequency, shaft type, and take a look at the grip traction and size.

2.  We will hit balls with your current set and see what's good/ bad/ what your best clubs are.

3.  Using the quick connect system, we hit balls on a real range and watch what happens to them. See, this is the real good part... then we take all this and TALK about what things feel like, what you want, and even chat about the good and bad in your swing.

4.  You get all this information written down and you can take it with you to -- I don't know - go buy budget clubs from eBay or whatever. Knock yourself out....

#4 kills people when I say it and write it.  "OH MY GOD, how do you stay in business?!".   My answer after a couple drinks is usually "Because I'm f--king good at what I do. Dick."

I don't just want you to play better, I want you to be happy.  If a player is happy with off the rack clubs after getting their perfect measurements - so be it. I think they're a little screwy, but I'm happy for them.
There are some that end up learning the hard way, for instance. Guys like Jeff (we'll call him that for now).  Jeff came and we talked and looked and did 1 through 4.  Jeff took his information and bought a name brand set at a local box store. Had it special ordered to the specs that he wanted and were given to him on my sheet.... Sort of. Payed $1500 for them after tax and shipping and "upgrades" whatever those are. I received a call over lunch one day because he was convinced that everything I told him was wrong.
He brought the set over and I put them through the paces. Turns out, the flex the manufacturer put in was not equivalent to the CPM that I told him - I guess the guy that sold it to him talked him into "regular, stiff, or x-stiff" being acceptable terms and that "frequency matching" would be an extra charge - which it is for the most part so I don't blame him.  Furthermore, the shafts weren't spine aligned or oscillated at all. Some were more off than others but they were typical "assembly line" clubs.  GripA, shaftB, headC, epoxy and ship.  So, after another $140, Jeff came back to the shop and picked up a set of clubs that were second to none.  Same heads, same grips, but all aligned, the proper flex and weight, and he's hitting it like a million bucks. He was able to sell the pulled shafts on eBay and recoup his loss at least. More recently Jeff was in the market for a new driver.  Where do you think he went? Aye, there be the moral of this story....

Name brands are expensive. Not necessarily expensive because they're "better clubs". Sometimes, not always. They're expensive because there's "R&D",  advertising, and a bunch of other things that go into releasing 3 drivers and 2 sets of irons every year that are 10 yards longer than their predecessor. I swear, if I had all the yardage and stuff I was promised over the years by big names, I'd be hitting 430 yard drives and throwing 150 yard sand wedges onto the green and spinning them 40 feet backwards.  The thing is, the USGA has put a max on what golf clubs can do. Remember that driver two years ago that "reached the USGA max for all attributes".... well guess what, there's nothing that this year's model can do better except have expensive moving parts that you'll probably end up spending money on tinkering with  or needing a $30 wrench to manipulate.
I don't always put bright colors and stickers on my golf clubs....
but when I do, it's because you're more likely to buy them.

For the eventual $1640 that Jeff ended up spending, a qualified club maker could have set him up with  and entire set of the top shelf in clubs in his exact specs - all made with quality components. You may not know the name, but trust your guy - he wouldn't be using them if he didn't know how they performed. I know I wouldn't. Nothing in my shop is there because I'm being paid or because it's cheaper than something else.  I don't have overhead because I don't keep inventory. I don't keep inventory because I never want to be a slave to having to "push" something on a customer so I don't lose money.

It's the same with fitting. I don't want to fit you to sell you something -- I want to fit you because I want you to play better. I've done everything I can to take the guesswork and inconsistency out of fitting. When I build a set, all my shafts are spine aligned. All my grips are the same size - If they're not, I pull them off and do it again. For fitting, all my heads and shafts are interchangeable - even the demos for independent companies like Krank and Bombtech.

Later this year, I will also be getting a Flightscope or a GC2 to add to the collection because I know how much people lean on this information. It's good to have, but don't let it rule your life.  I can't wait for the snow to melt so we can all get back out there. It's echo murder on your ears hitting in the heated bays.

Next time:  How The Club Nut takes the guesswork out of demos.