What if we could prove that custom fitting really could change a golfer’s game? That taking the time and effort to be measured, rather than pulling the nearest set of irons off the shop shelf, had a measurable and provable impact?

That’s what we set out to discover when we sent our club golf editor Steve Carroll on a fact-finding mission.

Steve was forever swapping clubs and mixing and matching his set. A new toy was never far away from his bag, but there was never any consistency to his game.

But what would happen if he received a full 14-club and ball fitting? Would his results be transformed?

Steve went to Titleist’s national fitting centre at St Ives where, last October, he was fit into the ultimate set – from the 718 irons to the Pro V1 ball.

He compiled stats for three months at the back end of last season prior to the fitting, and then did the same for the first three months of this campaign to see what the differences might be.

What were the results?

Titleist custom fitting

Titleist custom fitting: Steve’s final view

So does custom fitting really work? Well, I have to say it has been really beneficial to my game – even if my handicap hasn’t fallen as I might have hoped.

I went up half a shot overall, from 10.6 to 11.1, but 50% of that increase came in the last three weeks of the test when I hit a patch of poor form and was trying to push for a good result.

I must admit, I’ve found the process of having every shot in competition recorded a bit of a burden at times and it’s a pressure I’m looking forward to shedding.

I’ve also tried to force things if, for example, I’d gone through the first four holes without hitting a green in regulation.

It will be interesting to see, now that the only numbers that will count are the ones on the scorecard at the end of a round, if I will relax through the rest of the season and let things take their course.

I’m hitting the ball well enough, in general, with a consistency that has escaped me in the past.

Taking my handicap aside, Shot Scope reveals there was plenty to be happy about in my custom fitting results.

I gained 12 yards off the tee with the 917 D2 driver. That is a massive increase for someone who plays as often as I do.

My driving accuracy also improved 10%. I’m now hitting just under half my fairways. I’m hitting it longer and straighter.

Titleist custom fitting

My GIR percentage increased by a very solid 7% – although this brought its own novel issues as I suddenly found I was putting a bit more than I had previously.

That’s partly why my putting stats are slightly worse than last year. I’ve been on the green, but from further away than if I’d chipped for a third shot.

What I took most from the process is that patience is required to get things right.

We all go for a custom fitting hoping the measurements, and the clubs that come from them, will provide instant gratification. In reality, it’s a tweaking process that requires some give and take.

I struggled with the driver to start with and it required a second fitting – and a technique change – to finally iron out the kinks. Now it’s my favourite club in the bag.

It was a similar story with the irons.

I’d recommend anyone who goes down the fitting route arranges a second look three months later to really dial in the numbers.

Remember, a fitter can only measure the swing you bring to the range on that given day. If you’re like me, that motion can change from week-to-week and so can the results.

With consistency of data, though, we were able to really nail down the right specs with Trackman and I’m confident the best is still yet to come.

Here’s the killer point. I’ve substantially changed my bag every season – whether it was the woods, the irons or the wedges. There has always been something, or many things, new every year.

This will be the first off-season where everything stays pretty much as it is. Now if that isn’t a big enough advocate for custom fitting, I’m not sure what is.

titleist custom fitting

The final results

Exact handicap: 11.1 (up .5)

Driving accuracy: 48% (up 10%)

Average driving distance: 218yds (up 12 yds)

Greens in regulation: 29% (up 7%)

Average putts per round: 30.3 (up 1.3)

One putts: 33% (down 4%)

Sand saves: 22% (up 12%)

Scrambling: 42% (no change)

Titleist custom fitting: The equipment

WITB: What Steve was fitted into

Driver: Titleist 917 D2, 9.5° (GDI G-Series 50 stiff shaft)
3-wood: Titleist 917 F2, 15° (GDI G-Series 60 stiff shaft)
Hybrids: Titleist 818 H1, 19°, 23° (Aldila Tour ATX85H – 2.8 – stiff shafts)
Irons: Titleist AP3 5-PW (AMT Black regular shafts)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM6 48°, 54°, 60° (Dynamic Gold shaft)
Putter: Scotty Cameron Futura 7M (0.5° extra loft, 34” shaft)
Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Shotscope V2

Titleist custom fitting: The tech

Steve’s stats were monitored using the Shot Scope V2 performance tracking system. Fully automated, golfers wear a watch that doesn’t require syncing on the course with a phone and doesn’t require users to tag their clubs either before or after a shot.

Tags are placed into clubs, the app is downloaded and it is off to the course. All golfers need to do during a round is record the number of putts along with the position of the hole.

The V2 also adds as a GPS tracking device, giving yardages to front, back and middle along with a host of other information.

Sync the watch after the round and stats are available instantly through the app on a mobile or desktop.

For more information, visit Shotscope’s website