Gordon on Golf

Why club fitting and lessons are important

(Golf Canada)

“Everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” This facetious quote, most commonly attributed to Mark Twain, could be amended for our purposes as follows…

“Everyone complains about how difficult golf is, but no one does anything about it.”

We’re not talking about recent initiatives purported to make golf more “fun,” although following today’s advice certainly will help you accomplish that goal.

Getting your equipment properly fitted and taking lessons are two ways to guarantee not only a more enjoyable round, but lower scores. I said, “guarantee,” and I stand by that.

Whether you are just getting into golf or have been playing for years, buying clubs off the rack and heading for the first tee is a mistake, pure and simple. Just as not every man wears a size 40-regular suit and not every woman wears a size 8 dress, equipment specifications vary significantly based on your physical make-up—height, weight, age, gender, etc.  Your handicap and length of time playing the game will also be taken into account.

There are myriad options available in clubs and balls today, so finding the correct fit is not difficult. Many golf retail outlets and golf courses offer club fitting by PGA of Canada professionals. If you have a specific brand in mind, you can even go to their headquarters or fitting centre for a fitting. Or why not try out various brands at a demo day? (Details on manufacturers’ club fitting facilities and demo days are usually available on their web sites.)

A complete fitting will cover every club in your bag from driver to putter, and the fitter may even recommend a specific ball for your swing speed. A fitting costs a few dollars, but consider it money very well spent, an investment. It likely will save you a lot of money in the final analysis, preventing you from purchasing the wrong equipment. And having a custom fitting doesn’t necessarily mean you have to buy new clubs. After your fitting, you will receive a full report on your specifications that you can provide to any reputable equipment retailer once you decide which brand suits you best.

I have little sympathy for the golfer, beginner or experienced, who lays out hundreds of dollars for a new driver or a set of irons without being custom fitted and then moans that “I just can’t hit these.” Not only are they out a lot of money, but their “golf enjoyment quotient” (I just invented that) plummets with every successive round. Ergo, they play less because they are squirting shots in every direction.

With today’s sophisticated methods, a professional club fitter can often tweak your equipment to compensate for some fundamental swing flaws. But can you really “buy a better game”?

The definitive answer is … “kinda, maybe.”

A commitment to taking lessons from a PGA of Canada professional is the second essential element in our quest to be better golfers and, by logical extension, to have more fun playing the game.

“Both [properly fitted equipment and instruction] will help improve a player’s game and ultimately lower their handicap,” says Nick Yuen, former facility manager at TaylorMade’s Performance Lab at Glen Abbey, a par-5 from Golf Canada’s headquarters in Oakville, Ont. “You could debate which method is better but ultimately the deciding factors will be the player’s commitment to working with an instructor and practicing the necessary drills to change their swing mechanics.” (Yuen now is product and marketing manager for Adams Golf in Canada, a move made after TaylorMade purchased Adams in 2012.)

In what other pursuit in our lives would we not want the right equipment and instruction? Driving a car without those fundamentals would be disastrous, for example. Sky diving comes to mind, as well. Yet the majority of golfers ignore those two prerequisites for a better golf experience at the expense of not only fun, but significant cash, as well.

(Although “I just can’t hit these” doesn’t compare to “Is that a red light? Which pedal stops this thing?” or “Just how the heck do you open this parachute? My, that ground is getting close.”)

Before you buy that new driver or set of irons or even a putter, why not find out more about club fitting from a PGA of Canada professional or research the fitting opportunities offered by manufacturers? Once your existing equipment has been tweaked or you have purchased new custom-fitted clubs, head for the practice tee for a series of lessons.

Unlike the weather, your golf game is definitely something you can do something about. So do it.