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Club Fitting Demystified

COMPANY: Wilson Golf (800-469-4576, wilsongolf.com)
CUSTOM-FITTED MODELS AVAILABLE:
Irons: Deep Red and Deep Red II Tour; Fat Shaft III
Wedges: Dyna-Powered
Woods: Deep Red II Series drivers and fairway woods
FITTERS AND DEMO DAYS: Wilson has more than 650 "Dyna-Fit" carts in service and an active demo-day program.
COMMENTS AND CHARACTERIZATIONS: The company focuses especially on helping mid- to high-handicap players find the right clubs but has recently added more clubs for low handicappers to its lineup.

When to get fitted
A lot of players put off getting custom fitted for clubs because they feel they aren't swinging enough like their "normal" selves to assure an accurate result or because they intend to take lessons soon and make changes in their swings. These may sometimes be valid reasons to consider delaying a purchase, but once you're committed to buying a new set of clubs, there's never any good reason not to be custom fitted. The major criteria used in fitting—height, hand size, essential swing posture, baseline swing speed and your playing goals as a golfer—are not subject to radical variances. As a result, the shaft flex, club length, grip size and lie angle that a fitter prescribes for you won't be that far off even if you're tested in the middle of your off-season with no warm-up while suffering from the flu.

That said, the process does often go more smoothly if you get fitted when your swing is reasonably grooved and comfortable. Much of the advantage has to do with what you, the fittee, perceive. Your judgment of whether shaft A gives you more-telling feedback than shaft B, or whether a thicker top line appeals more than a thinner top line, will be more assured in midseason than when you're out of sync.

As for the fear that subsequent improvements in your swing will make the carefully calibrated fit of your new clubs moot, don't sweat it. Most structural changes in a golf swing occur very slowly over time with persistent work, and even those changes that do sometimes impact fit, such as an extreme realignment of posture or the switch from a seriously weak grip to a seriously strong one, can usually be accommodated by tweaking the lie angle of your clubs—a simple bending process that some manufacturers will do for free if you send the clubs back to them or that your club pro can do in his shop. "The most important thing is to get the right shaft in the club," says Daryl Crawford of Ping. "Once you have that, you can make most other adjustments pretty easily, as needed."

Some ambitious players ask to be fit prescriptively (that is, for clubs designed to work best with the swing they hope to grow into) rather than descriptively (for clubs that provide maximum correction for their current swing). Although a modest degree of the former is sometimes helpful, most fitting pros favor the latter, especially for golfers who play only a few times a year and have no intention of working hard to improve. "If and when you get better, these clubs will still be easy to hit," says Gary Gallagher of TaylorMade. "Golf's hard enough already. Our goal is for people to have fun."

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