Can a club golfer's game be transformed by custom fitting?

Golf Equipment

Our resident club golfer and 11-handicapper Steve Carroll is on his way to Titleist HQ to begin his journey

Many of us pay lip service but no more to the concept of custom fitting. It’s a bit like healthy eating – we know it’s good for us but that doesn’t mean we do it.

Our club golf editor, Steve Carroll, is entirely typical. He loves his golf, is forever to be found staring at new toys in the pro shop and is desperate to get down to single figures. But when it comes to custom fitting, he’s playing at it.

Yes, he’s been for driver and iron fittings. But never at the same time. As for his fairways, hybrids and wedges – it’s mix and match. Never mind the putter, which in Steve’s world is only ever one bad round away from the naughty cupboard.

So what would happen if he received a full, 14-club and ball fitting? Would it transform his game? We are about to find out.

Steve is on his way to Titleist’s national fitting centre at St Ives Golf Club, where the experts were waiting to fit him into the ultimate set – from the brand new 718 irons to the 2017 upgrades of their flagship Pro V1 and Pro V1x balls.

Steve has been compiling stats on his game for the past three months. He’ll spend the winter getting used to his new gear. Next season we’ll compare the vital statistics.

It will be nice to have some clubs tailored to my needs

We caught up with Steve ahead of his Titleist custom fitting…

What are you most looking forward to?

Finally getting my gapping sorted out. I’ve had a mixed bag – literally – of whatever hybrids or fairway woods have taken my eye at any given moment.

At one point, I carried a crossover as well as 19 ̊, 21 ̊ & 23 ̊ hybrids among my 14 clubs – but had nothing between them and driver!

Even now, there’s 20 yards between my driver and my next club and 40 yards between the big stick and my trusted 23 ̊  hybrid. I’m also really looking forward to getting some shafts that are suited to my particular swing characteristics.

Fitting, for me, has largely consisted of hitting a few shots on a monitor with off-the-shelf clubs – whatever happened to be in the shop. It will be nice to have some clubs tailored to my needs.

What part of your game is most in need of improvement?

My greens-in-regulation stats look terrible but they are really caused by some awful driving.

I’ve struggled all season and Shot Scope tells me I’m averaging a paltry 206 yards off the tee over the past three months. When I’m hitting it well, I’m closer to 230.

My course is 6,723 yards off the white tees. If you’re not getting it out there, and in the fairway, it’s difficult to score well.

I’m hitting so few greens because I’m either trying to get there from 200 yards – difficult even for really good players – or I’m just laying up and trying to get up and down.

How do you think the 14-club fitting element will most help you?

It will finally give me peace of mind. Once you’ve gone through this kind of comprehensive fitting, there are no more excuses. I can’t blame the club, the shaft, or the grip, for a poor shot. It’s down to me and me alone.

That certainty will rid some of the mental doubts I can sometimes allow to affect me during a competition round.

There may not be huge gains across the board but I’ll be very surprised if there is one area which doesn’t see an improvement

We asked equipment editor James Savage what he expects from Steve’s Titleist custom fitting…

What are you most intrigued to see?

I’m really keen to see which irons will be recommended for Steve.

I think he’d benefit from the forgiveness of AP1 but I know he’s not a fan of offset. So maybe he’ll lean towards the AP3 or T-MB. Or maybe we’ll see a combination set built for him? With six models in the range there are so many options.

What element do you think will benefit Steve the most?

All of it. It will be the peace of mind and confidence that he has a whole set tailored to his game.

I know Steve likes to change his gear quite a lot and I think much of that is down to a nagging voice in his head questioning whether or not the gear he is using is right for him.

If he has a bad round after his fitting he’ll only have himself – and not the gear – to blame.

What will the outcome be?

I expect Steve’s game to improve in all areas.

I think there could be a bit of a placebo effect early on before a bit of a plateau. But by the middle of next season I think he’ll be firing on all cylinders when he’s really used to the new kit – and has got to grips with the idea that he doesn’t need to change his putter after a couple of three-putts.

There may not be huge gains across the board but I’ll be very surprised if there is one area which doesn’t see an improvement.

Above all, I hope that Steve is happy and gets more enjoyment out of his game.

Steve Carroll

Vital Statistics

Steve’s numbers based on the last three months captured by the Shot Scope performance tracking system:

Exact handicap: 10.5
Driving accuracy: 38%
Greens in regulation: 22%
Average putts: 27 (37 including putts off the green)
One putts: 37%
Sand saves: 10%
Scrambling: 42%

Follow Steve’s progress with NCG where next month he will be reporting on his Titleist custom fitting and what is going in his bag. Steve will be posting regular updates over the winter as he builds toward the moment of truth next summer.

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