I hate going shopping- to me, it’s a torturous exercise that I will avoid at all costs. Be it clothes, household items, or much of anything, I’ve always taken a “go in and get done as quickly as possible” approach.
Shopping for retail items is equally loathsome. I’ve no desire to have a relationship with a salesperson- while I respect that they have a job to do, hectoring me when I’ve indicated I’m in no need or desires of their attention is a great way to keep me from spending money. The opposite I also find to be true- having to wait at a cash register, goods in hand, in wait for someone to take my money in exchange for said items. I find online shopping to be a fairly reasonable option- by nature I enjoy doing research and being of reasonable intellect, I can work at my own pace before making a purchase.
However, in some instances, it’s required that one go to a store, and engage in the belly of the beast. Buying new golf clubs is one of those instances. Having done exhaustive research about my needs as a golfer (and unfortunately “scotch” won’t help here but not for trying), my game, my swing, and having read both Golf Magazine and Golf Digest’s issues on new clubs (porn for equipment nerds), I was off and running.
Golf Magazine continues to do a piecemeal approach that I hate, but if you need a new driver, their reviews on new drivers can be found here: http://www.golf.com/equipment/golf-magazine-clubtest-2014-drivers-best-golf-drivers-driver-reviews-golf-equipment
Golf Digest’s Hot List can be viewed here: http://www.golfdigest.com/golf-equipment/hot-list
Unfortunately my options for clubfitting were, at best, highly limited. While Golf Galaxy has received several positive reviews from the likes of Golf Digest’s Stina Sternberg (and yes- if more golf stores would be more accessible to women it would surely be a good thing), their relationship (with Golf Galaxy having sent out a circular highlighting the Golf Digest “Gold” products I was a bit leery- I can be somewhat of a cynical, skeptical prick at the best of times) with the Hot List seemed odd, but off I went.
Being marginally old fashioned I thought I could call and make an appointment for a clubfitting. I had done this with my previous set of irons with the now-defunct Mammoth Golf, and it worked out pretty well. Unfortunately Golf Galaxy doesn’t take appointments; I was advised to “just show up” and they’d fit me in. Being a hyper-organized type that’s more than a bit OCD, I wasn’t exactly fond of the idea of “just showing up” on a Saturday morning (because of work and other commitments my weekdays are all but shot) as it tends to put me into a cold sweat.
So off I went, hoping that I could find a suitable match and be done without wasting my entire Saturday inside a store.
I was greeted by a polite salesperson who asked a few basic questions and I explained what I was looking for and listed a couple models I was interested in trying. He got me sorted out straightaway and had me hit some warm-up shots in one of their hitting bays while another gentleman was getting fitted for a driver. After warming up and the launch monitor station emptying it was my turn.
Pretty early on I found the set I really liked, and it wasn’t the one I was expecting. Having honed in, we then got down to the fitting. I had my old specs from my previous set (one thing about Ping that I like is their irons are all colour-coded by measurements, so telling him that I was a “green dot” helped him dial in the set).
After hitting 30 shots on the launch monitor (I only know this because it kept count)- I hit about a dozen or so off of a board to determine if I was flat or upright- I found a fit that I liked. Oddly enough, the stock lie/upright was what I needed, which I wasn’t expecting. Even better, they had them in stock which meant I’d save a return trip!
One area that he was very helpful was in explaining what a graphite shaft does for you as opposed to a steel shaft (steel is cheaper, but graphite can help you gain distance but can be harder to control in terms of distance/accuracy). He ended up steering me toward the cheaper steel shafts.
Overall, it was a positive experience but if I can impart any wisdom to anyone reading this who’s drooling over the idea of new sticks and wants to get a club fitting, it would be the following (note-I don’t work at or have a stake in any golf shop, so I don’t have a skin in the game):
1) Do your research before you go. Read reviews (TGW.com has reader reviews that require you to have bought the item through them).
2) Do an honest assessment of your game. What is your current handicap index, or what is your average score for 18 holes? What do you currently have in your bag, and what would a new set ideally hope to accomplish?
3) Be honest about your budget. No sense going into a store with a $500 budget and looking to buy a $1000 set. Note the MSRP when you’re doing research.
4) Be honest about the makeup of your set. The 3-iron has become a dinosaur and many of the so-called “super game improvement” sets are ditching the 4-iron as well. Do you want hybrids to replace 4 and 5 irons? Think about shafts- your swing speed may not lend itself to a stiff shaft. Ask about graphite, and consider the answer. It’s not for me or anyone else to tell you what you should or shouldn’t play with. Ultimately, it’s your call.
5) Wear shoes that you can hit shots with. You “may” want to wear sneakers/trainers or at least a shot with some kind of tread. Or you “may” want to bring your golf shoes with you.
6) Give yourself plenty of time. Golf clubs aren’t cheap. Rushing through the process could mean you end up with clubs that don’t fit. If you go on a weekend give yourself more time as the store may be busy.
7) Ask to warm up before you do your fitting.
8) This is a club fitting, it is NOT a lesson. Swing your regular swing. Changing your swing during the fitting process will leave you with clubs that don’t fit.
9) Expect to pay a small fee for a club fitting (many stores will refund some or all of the cost if you buy a set of clubs).
10) If you’re confused about something, speak up and say something! If something feels odd, say something. I spoke to three different folks (off the record)- they all said that they want people to love their purchase (you hating it after the fact means you’re less likely to return). It’s good for them, their store, and you.
Best of luck, and happy shopping.