A NASCAR Fitting vs. Car Dealer Fitting
Fitting custom clubs and biomechanically matching them to your golf swing
By: Roy Nix
Owner: McNix Golf, Columbus GA
AGCP founder and Executive Director
With money beginning to get tighter a few years ago many of my golfers were asking me why they should pay more for me to fit them than for their Golf Pro and/or OEM rep at their club, from the driving range Pro, or from the Pro or sales rep at the big box store down the street. Being one who played all sports growing up and understanding most of them fairly well I thought this over to try and find an analogy that would explain the difference. For the longest time I couldn't really come up with anything that fit. Then one Sunday I climbed into my recliner to watch a NASCAR race with my wife. My wife happens to be a serious NASCAR fan and can tell me more about car engineering and race car set ups than I would like to admit. I've grown into a casual fan because I enjoy watching with her. But, back to the subject at hand.
During the pre-race they were explaining how the cars would be set up for this particular track and they mentioned that even the set in the car was molded to fit the drivers body and the brake, clutch and gas pedals were exactly matched to the driver as well as the steering wheel. I said to my wife, ?Damn, these guys are pretty detailed? and her response gave me a good analogy, she said; ?Yep, just like you do with golf clubs? and she went on to explain that each driver drives with a different style. Some drivers drive best on the bottom of the track and some like the top of the track and many variations in between. She went on to explain how the suspension and the down force and the ?aero? (aerodynamic) set up had to be different for each style.
Well, this got me thinking about my custom golf clubs and how I fit them compared to the afore mentioned fitters for OEM products. The OEM product is like a car dealer and they sell a fine quality product that will start everyday, it will run fine and has lots of features and creature comforts we all like and enjoy. They will even custom build the cars to the degree of options they have available at the factory. Nothing wrong with this but it is why any car you see on the road by any company is more or less the same car regardless of who is driving it. Yes, we can adjust the seats to the degree the little mechanical device allows, but the seat is not molded to our body to make a 500 mile trip more comfortable. We have engine options, wheel options and interior options but all have the same suspension, set up, brakes, transmissions, etc. within the options made available to us.
All of the above makes a fine automobile, but they will not run at 9,000 rpm and they will not run at 200+ mph and if you took one to a NASCAR track you have NO CHANCE of qualifying for the race. But then they don't cost $250,000 plus to build either, like a NASCAR race car.
Unlike quality custom fitted golf clubs where you can get a club that fits your swing and performs far better for about the same price or slightly more than the OEM clubs, NASCAR race cars are 5 times as expensive as the Car Dealer's cars.
I can't speak to all custom clubmakers just as I can't speak to all NASCAR race teams, but I know that AGCP clubmakers do a great job of fitting. Regardless, any NASCAR team will build a car far better than any dealer car and any reputable custom fitter and builder will build a club far better than any OEM product. AGCP fitters will measure your club speed, ball speed, measure you for the proper length, proper lie and fit the shaft weight and shaft flex to your swing, and find the club head design that works for you to give you the best possible club for your golf swing.
We are now testing and fitting for biomechanics and in our upcoming Roundtable we will have several hours of presentations on the benefits of finding the best total MOI of the club to the MOI of the head around the shaft ratio and how to fit for and build for this. We have found much evidence that total weight can change the swing path of golfers and that head weight can change the face angle of the head at impact. By adjusting the total weight to work with the head weight to give the golfer the optimum balance point for his club we can produce a golf club that swing more on the correct swing path and has the face more in line with the swing path so it will produce a straighter shot and do it more consistently than a club that is not biomechanically matched to your golf swing.
Totally confused? Read on...
To relate to these ideas there are some things you can experiment with.
First: Grab a piece of rebar about 3 feet long and try swinging it. You will drag that heavy thing back over your back foot and barely be able to take it back, and on the down swing it will force your elbow down on your hip more than you want. Not grab a 3 foot wooden dowel rod about the same size as the rebar and swing it. Did you pick it up with your right hand on an outside the line swing path and cast if from the top with an over the top swing? There is your first lesson in biomechanical matching and fitting. Most golfers will swing a heavier club more inside out than outside in and a lighter club more outside in than inside out. Proper fitting will get most of us to the most down the line swing path possible.
Second: Try and find a driver with a 45 gram graphite shaft and a swingweight under D-0 and hit it a few times. The stronger you are the more left you will probably hit this club. If you are really strong you will likely hit this club with as pull hook. This is the wooden dowel. After you hit 4 or 5 shots to establish a pattern but before you adjust to the club, add about 4 grams of lead tape to the club head and hit 5 more shots and note the difference in the ball flight. Again stop with 5 shots before you adjust to the club which you will eventually do. Now add 4 more grams and hit 5 more and notice the ball flight. It is a pretty safe bet with most of us by continuing to add 4 grams and move closer and closer to the rebar, and hitting 5 more shots the ball flight will move more and more to the right and get higher too probably. If you add enough weight at some point the shot will be consistently straight and as you add more and more weight the ball will become a push and then a push slice.
Next: Put impact labels on the face and see where you are making impact. If it's an OEM club and you are a little on the heel, go ahead and choke up until you start hitting the ball in the center of the face. If you get to the center you will add some distance to your shots. This is the importance of having the proper length clubs, you will hit them farther and you will hit them more consistently the same distance each time you hit them.
There are many more factors that go into a good professional fitting and if you call a reputable fitter, or an AGCP fitter he will tell you all about them. Having the knowledge to do this is far more important then the name on the club. A good fitter is far more important than a club and only he can build clubs to match what his fitting recommendations are for your swing. It may cost you just a little more for a set of custom fitted and custom built biomechanically matched to your swing golf clubs, but you will enjoy playing much better golf and you may have bought you last set of clubs. You will no longer have to buy the latest advertising gimmick year after year in search for your perfect club. You will have it in your bag for years to come.
Association of Golf Clubfitting Professionals
Thanks to Roy Nix founder of the Association of Golf Clubfitting Professionals for this article.
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