Editor's Note: What is it like to undergo a full bag club fitting, and what improvements are possible? AGC Player Staff member Ed Donlin recently underwent a fitting with Club Champion, and here is his report:
- Club Champion photo
In July, I won the long drive contest at a charity tournament and the prize was a driver fitting at a Club Champion fitting center. Since my driver, fairway wood, and hybrid were old, I was planning on upgrading to a long game fitting, but when I called, I found out the full bag fittings were 50% off. So I decided to get the full bag fitting for a small additional charge.
I called the customer service center to set up my appointment which was very easy. After setting up my appointment, I received a questionnaire to get a little background info about me, my golf history, and any preference I have to a specific manufacturer. They also tell you to bring your full bag and dress comfortably as if you were going to play a round of golf. You can wear your golf shoes or tennis shoes, and if you wear a glove they also tell you to bring one.
Last week, I went for my fitting at the Charlotte, N.C. fitting center. A full bag fitting is 3 1/2 hours long. I play a lot of golf but very seldom practice or hit many balls to warm up before a round. At 65 years old, I was not sure if I could hit that many balls in one session, but decided to try.
When I arrived at Club Champion, I was met by my fitter, Bruce. Bruce and I sat down and talked for 15 minutes about my golf background and what I was looking for in my fitting. I do play over 150 rounds a year including 20+ Senior tournaments. My current Handicap index is 1.4.
The Fitting Process
We then moved to one of the fitting bays where I warmed up by hitting a few 8 irons until I was ready to start the fitting. Club Champion uses a Trackman Pro including the projection screen to see and capture all the data.
We started my fitting with the driver. I hit probably 10 balls with my TaylorMade M1 to get a baseline. A TaylorMade M6 was first on the list. After hitting 7 balls to start, we looked at the data and it was an improvement over my M1, especially the spin rate. We then tried a number of different shafts in the M6 to see if we could maximize the performance. After finding the shaft that best fit my swing, we moved to trying different club manufacturers. I hit a the latest Ping, Callaway, Cobra, and finally a Titleist TS3 8.5 degree driver. The Titleist driver gave me the best performance. We then tried a number of different shafts with that driver before choosing the Accra TourZ TZ5 65 M4 shaft.
** Final results on the TrackMan were a gain of 17 yards and a reduced spin rate of 700 rpms with the same club head speed as my M1 driver.
We then moved to the 3 wood starting with a baseline of my TaylorMade SLDR. The same
process as the driver was used for the 3 wood before we settled on a TaylorMade M6 Fairway Rocket 14 degree 3 wood.
** Final Results: Same club head speed as my SLDR and 18 yards gained with a lower spin rate by 500rpms.
After hitting 100+ balls at this point, I was a little tired so to give me a short break from full swings, we took my putter to their small indoor putting green to test my putter and stroke. Club Champion uses the SAM PuttLab system for and training. This device analyzes the 28 important parameters of your putting stroke. After hitting probably 25 putts to get a normal stroke feel, Bruce fit a sensor on my putter. I then putted 15 balls. We then looked at the data which shows you the loft and lie of your putter at address and then at impact. It also records where you are aimed at address and at impact. The other piece of data it records is your actual stroke. With this data, they can recommend a mallet or blade type putter with offset or no offset.
** Final Results: I have the correct putter for my stroke but it was slightly flat at address, so he made it more upright.
We then returned to the hitting bay to start the iron fitting. I am a traditional guy when it comes to irons. I like forged irons with a thin top of the blade. Again I started with my Mizuno JPX 900 forged 6 iron with Project X LZ 5.5 shafts to get a baseline. Mizuno's
MP 20 HMB 6 iron iron was the starting point. Again, we tried a number of different shafts
which included, steel, graphite, and combination(steel and graphite) shafts. After getting the ideal shaft, we tried a number of the latest irons from different manufacturers including some cast irons.
** Final results: The Mizuno MP20 HMB with a Project X Catalyst 60 6.0 shaft
gave me a gain of 13 yards, a reduced spin rate of 800 rpms and a better shot pattern.
Hybrid and wedges
We also went through the same type of fitting with my TaylorMade 19 degree SLDR hybrid and my 54 and 58 degree Vokey wedges.
** Final results: A new TaylorMade M6 19 degree hybrid with Paderson KG Hybrid KG80-HUT30 shaft added 20 yards to that club. The fitting suggested the Callaway MD5 Jaws 54 and 58 degree wedges performed best with the same Project X shaft as the fitted irons.
When we finished, Bruce printed a new bag configuration for me based on my fitting. He also emailed me the data from my fitting. All the clubs are priced at the MFG suggested price, but a significant upcharge is included for the driver, fairway wood, and hybrid as the shafts are not stock shafts that come from the factory. I believe most of them would only come from a tour van. I had heard from a few guys that they will push a specific manufacturer, especially the irons. I did try one of those irons, but it did not perform very well. As you can tell from my configuration, I did not see a bias toward one manufacturer.
I loved the experience. Club Champion has what seems to be an massive number of options when it comes to club manufacturers and possible shafts for all players. Since each shot is recorded, the fitter can delete any really bad swing that will skew the average for a club. The only drawback is that I use midsize grips and they only have regular sized grips. This makes sense because if they had to have multiple grip sizes for every shaft they have, storage would be a problem. I was extremely tired after hitting around 250 to 300 balls, but if you are serious about your game, I would definitely recommend getting fitted at Club Champion.