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A Taylormade Custom Fitting Experience at Precision Golf!

Have you ever wondered what a custom golf club fitting is like at Precision Golf? Below Dan Owen kindly reveals all from his day with us!

Introducing Dan

I've been fit for golf clubs before, however I have never been fit for golf clubs like this before. My experience at Precision Golf truly has been the best golf club fitting I’ve discovered as of yet.
A little bit of background on me, I’ve been writing about golf equipment since 2004. I’m the ultimate golf geek, and it still feels like Christmas when a long brown box arrives at my door, as I know there will be some new golf clubs to try. In that time I’ve watched men in crash helmets and tape measures run out onto a driving range when Henrik Stenson was testing clubs to verify launch monitor numbers. I’ve had wedges made for me by Roger Cleveland, and been beaten on the putting green by Bob Bettinardi. I’ve been fit loads of times, irons here, drivers there. But I’ve never been through a professional golf club fitting for my whole bag like this before, in a totally brand agnostic way. This isn't being fit like a tour pro. It’s better. I’ll explain.

I've never been fit for 14 golf clubs together, a set built for my specific swing flaws and strengths, with every club in the set working together to offer proper gapping. But not only gapping, but to help me hit the shots I like to hit. And to think all 14 of those clubs are going to come from one manufacturer is a little bit short sighted. Having hit clubs from every brand I believe there is a lot of good equipment out there but going through the Precision Golf fitting process has made me realise that there is still room for certain clubs to stand out head and shoulders performance wise. For me. And that's the key, it won’t be the same 14 clubs for everyone.

Ability wise, I've not had official handicap for a few years. My last official handicap was 9, I’ve been as low as 7 and realistically I’m about 12 at the moment. I can hit the ball decently just not as far as I'd like to. I've got a relatively short backswing, make an aggressive move from the top, and don't make much use of my lower body. It flatters to deceive by looking like I hit it hard, but in reality I struggle to hit it out of my shadow! In recent years I've not played as much golf and the small forged irons I have previously enjoyed using just don't offer enough help anymore. I went into my custom golf club fitting knowing I wanted to try something more forgiving that helps with maintaining ball speed on misses. Traditionally that would have meant a set of offset game improvement irons but the golf market has changed in recent years. Golfers don't seem to be letting their egos get in the way of the equipment they choose. There are now forgiving options that aren't oversized and massively offset and look like a player's golf club behind the ball.

The Golf Club Fitting Session

The session started with Simon taking measurements of all my golf clubs, measuring lie angle, loft, shaft length, total club weight and swing weight. Straight away we found the Wilson C300 iron heads I'd been testing recently to swing weight in between D5 and D6, which is far too heavy and this was proven once I hit some warm up shots with the clubs, the club getting stuck behind the hands on the way through. The clubs were working against my golf swing.

I think that's a key point to this process. A good golfer will find a way to make a set of clubs work for them. But rather than adapting your swing to your clubs, your clubs should be built to maximise your swing. By having a set built for your golf swing, you have one less thing to worry about. If you can trust your equipment the only thing left to worry about is yourself. That can only build consistency for your individual golf swing and then you have to accept when a bad swing is your fault and not blame the equipment. It’s so important to ensure that you’re receiving the best professional golf club fitting available; you should be reassured knowing that the clubs you leave with are those best suited to you.

After measuring my clubs and watching me hit some warm up shots Simon went straight to work, analysing the data from one of the three Trackman launch monitors at their Byfleet studio. Unlike every other fitting I've ever had, Precision Golf work from the shaft backwards. When you go to a manufacturer golf club fitting, the first thing you will be asked is what head you are looking at. Don't get us wrong, during that process you may find a different head suits you better, but it always starts with the head selection when you’re getting fitted for golf clubs. Simon was more interested in finding the right shaft first. By finding a shaft I could deliver the clubhead consistently with, we could then find any improvement in head design once we had that sorted.

Straight away Simon put me into the KBS Tour V 100, a lighter version of the shaft used by Phil Mickelson week in, week out on the PGA Tour. It's a low launch shaft where the weight is evenly distributed through the shaft. And this was another factor we found that worked for me. Having too much shaft weight in the tip or the butt threw my swing out of whack.

The numbers were pretty good, testing with a Callaway Apex 6 iron as the baseline head, an immediate improvement over the irons I went into the fitting with. From there I explained to Simon that I tried a shaft a couple years ago that I found really interesting which was a Steel Fiber 95, a graphite design with steel mesh in the tip. It weighed a few grams less than than the Tour V, and while numbers were goo, I lost consistency .

We tried a couple more options including the Nippon Modus 105 but we quickly gravitated back towards the KBS Tour-V. It just worked. There are hundreds of options at Precision Golf when you’re getting fitted for golf clubs and I was impressed with Simon's intimate knowledge of the product that he knew the right option before I'd even hit it!

Choosing A Head

Having decided on a shaft we talked through heads to try. The Apex was already a good option however I explained to Simon I was hoping to find little bit more ball speed. My swing speed had slowed in recent years and I wanted to get more distance with my irons. We quickly tried a variety of heads, the Ping i200 which felt great, the Titleist AP3 which looked amazing but I could not get a decent strike with. We hit the Taylormade P790 which had a massive jump in ball speed, about 5 mph faster. Which was huge for me. On my suggestion we tried the Srixon Z565 which is a fantastic head, however it has been taken over by others for ball speed. We then tried the PXG 0311 which feels glorious, but I wasn't getting any more ball speed than with the Apex or the Wilson for that matter.

The last irons to try were the Callaway Rogue Pro irons which were consistently 4 miles an hour faster off the face than anything else we tested, bar the Taylormade. They looked great, if a bit shiny, and felt good. We went back to the P790, and not only was it faster, because I was comfortable with it, I was hitting it better. My misses were going close to the same distance as a centre strike and, as a normal club golfer, that's the help you want.

I don't strike the centre every time so I want help to make sure I can hit the ball as far as possible on the mishits, my misses tend to be for strike rather than massively offline, so this should help my golf. I'm confident that I could have played good golf with the Callaway Rogue Pro or the TaylorMade P790 but the consistently higher ball speed and smash factor made the TaylorMade the clear winner on performance.

With irons decided, it was time to look at the scoring clubs. And it was a totally different approach to how I’ve looked at choosing wedges before. Again starting with the shaft, Simon got me hitting some shots with the Tour V shaft. While that seemed like the obvious choice, it didn’t produce great results, and I found myself flipping at the ball with my hands, and hitting the shots too high. The next choice was the KBS 610 wedge shaft. While it was better, spin was still inconsistent, and the shot grouping wasn't as good. The Nippon Modus Wedge 115 was next on the list and we hit paydirt. Launch was lower, spin was higher, dispersion was tighter. You could hear shots were being struck better. It might sound odd but for a clubfitter, especially indoors, listening to the strike is a significant part of the fitting process.

I then got asked how many wedges I wanted to play. With the TaylorMade PW at 45, and the fact I love playing a 60 degree lob wedge having grown up on a course with small greens and tight cut pins, we added a 50 and a 56. We will look at bending these potentially once the set is assembled to match up the distance gaps. I was also asked how I play my wedges. I tend to open up the face of the lob wedge a lot, but I also like to use it out of sand. My current lob wedge is great for the lob hot but not for the bunker shot as it's a low bounce design. Simon marked the sole of the club and asked me to hit a lob shot. After hitting it he could see where I made contact with the club, and it showed I make the contact on the heel, towards the back. According to Simon this shows that I need the heel of the club ground off so that i can make better contact. And this marries up to wedges I’ve used in the past that I’ve had good results with.

What Next For This Golf Club Fitting?

What I haven’t talked about is clubhead. Wedge performance is pretty similar, so Simon said I’d be better off choosing a wedge I liked the look and feel of. Well, I love the look of the Ping Glide Stealth 2.0 wedges. And having a small cavity back design, they should have some more forgiveness than traditional options. So that's what we went with. The black finish also makes them look smaller which is a neat trick.

Hitting full and partial wedge shots was a great way to warm down after so many full blooded 6 irons. But now it was time to get swinging again as it was time to hit the driver.

I'm a relatively straight driver of the golf ball. I don't have big misses. But what I don't have is enough clubhead speed. I explained to Simon I was after more distance. He quite rightly said though the best fit will go further because you'll hit it more consistently.

Simon, again, wanted to find a shaft first. I'd been fitted for a Project X Hzrdus yellow 75 previously so that's where we started. It just did not work. Too heavy, my swing wasn't meshing with its counterbalanced design. We then tried a Fujikura Atmos Black. And it was like night and day. At 65 grams, with weight balanced throughout the length of the shaft, we found this was producing much more consistent shots. We'd found a contender. From there we tried a selection of different shafts. The hot new Tpt shafts as used by Jason Day, a selection of Accra models, a Tour AD. But none of them were close to the Atmos. We went back to the Atmos and the ball felt like it was on a rope in comparison to the others.

Driver shaft chosen, it was time to find a head. Coming in I'd been thinking about two heads. I loved the look of the Callaway Rogue Sub Zero, and I loved the idea of the Ping G400 Max. But neither of them came out on top. Starting with the Ping I was spinning it around 2900 rpm. Which was just too high. While the ball speed was good, the smash factor could be better.

Simon then handed me the Taylormade M4. Instantly it was 6 yards longer. And consistently so. My ball speed was up. My spin was down. Launch angle was around the same. My swing speed was actually down a touch. But ball speeds were consistently 1 mph faster. I was averaging a smash factor of 1.52, basically this club was as efficient as I would be able to find, and 9 yards longer than the G400 Max with the same shaft.

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Being stubborn I asked to try different heads. The Rogue SubZero looked great. But I launched it too high. The PXG O811X span too high. The Mizuno ST180 didn't have as much ballspeed. The Cobra King F8+ came closest. But that just helped me produce more clubhead speed. The ballspeed was comparable to the M4 but I was swinging that on average 4mph slower.

The Winner

We had a clear winner. But it's important for me to say this wouldn't be the same for everyone. If I'd have been looking for a higher launch the Callaway may have been perfect. If I needed spin the Ping may have been a good fit. There is no one driver for everyone. But there was one clear winner for me.

Driver found, it was time to find the fairway wood. Like wedges, a fairway wood has to be used for different shots. A jack of all trades, performance can suffer if you make it a master of one. So I explained that I used a fairway wood off a tee quite a lot to put myself in position, but also wanted something usable off the deck. If I'd just wanted a tee club we may have tried a stronger loft. A fairway only club, we might have tried a HL three wood. But for what I needed we settled on a traditional 15 degree. Starting with an M3 fairway, Simon quickly settled on a shaft. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable on shafts, and he picked out a model I'd never heard of. An Accra i362T. A touch heavier than the atmos, with a softer tip, it was designed to get the ball up off the deck. While we got some really good numbers, I never felt comfortable with the combo. Simon handed me a Cobra F8+ with the same shaft, and it was definitely better. Consistently 10 yards longer with a tighter dispersion, Simon was pretty convinced he'd found a winner.

I asked to hit one more club. Because it's got a glued hostel it's a little harder to fit the Callaway Rogue Sub Zero fairway wood from the Precision Golf shaft demo matrix. But they had demos with the Stock PX Even Flow blue shaft. And instantly it felt great. While there is a definite science to club fitting, the intangibles of how a club looks definitely have an effect. Consistently 3 yards further than the Cobra, 13 yards further than the Taylormade, with a reasonably tight dispersion, I'm excited to get this on the course with the Accra Shaft. I wouldn't be surprised to find another 5-yards in distance and a more consistent grouping.

At this point I was over 150 balls in, all hit with 100% concentration. That's over 3 rounds of golf not including putts! I was done. We tried to soldier on and hit hybrids but my body gave up. I'll have to put those through their paces when I collect these. Absolutely shattered, it was time to go home.

The End Of The Day

An hour and a half later I'd spent the whole drive back grinning. I may have lost some clubhead speed but I was convinced that Simon had fitted me for a set of clubs that I will hit better. A driver that flies further? Check. A fairway wood I can hit consistently? Check. Irons with more forgiveness that aren't shovels? Check. Wedges gapped properly that I can hit all the shots with? Check. A little bit of work left to find hybrids and double check the putter. But I've got no excuse when it comes to my golf this year, it'll be me to blame, not my equipment.

The Verdict?

Go in with an open mind. Don't get hung up about certain shafts that are cool, or what shaft flex Simon hands you. Have an idea what you want to try, but be open to suggestions. Try not to judge your set purely on looks (they are a factor but not the defining one) but pick a club because of its performance. And have a grasp of what you want to achieve when you go in. Do all of this and you will leave Precision Golf with a set of clubs that will help you improve your game.

To find out more about Precision Golf’s custom golf club fitting services, get in touch with a member of the team today!

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