In this edition of Fourball our resident basket cases agonise over whether or not a custom fitting is truly beneficial to their game
This week I’m joined on the virtual sofa by debutant and elite amateur Hannah Holden, Harvey Jamison and Alex Perry to discuss the merits of a custom fitting..
How much of a believer/obsessive are you in custom-fitting and how many clubs in your bag have you been fitted for?
Hannah: I test so many clubs that haven’t been custom fit for me and versus a custom fit club the difference is really astounding. Companies are offering a custom-fit service for a reason, every golfer has a unique swing so should have a different set-up with their clubs.
I’m currently carrying 14 clubs of which 13 I have had custom-fit. The one outsider in this is my G400 hybrid, I previously had a G10 hybrid which was custom fit and used the same spec when I upgraded to the new model.
Harvey: A custom-fitting is equivalent to the Holy Grail and I’m still searching for it. I’m a disciple to golf and so confident that getting custom-fit would breathe life into my game. Whatever the cost I’ll pay it as I’m currently playing a set of Ping irons that are an inch too short for me and also 8-ironless. Plus, a day on the range, with an expert, hitting 500+ balls to find the clubs that can unlock my golfing potential? I’ll take two please.
Alex: Like the old saying goes: Once you get custom fit, there’s nothing else you want to hit. (Can we make that a thing?) I’m 6-foot-4 with massive hands, I can’t game off the shelfers. I play Ping clubs – always have, always will – and I’ve been down to HQ a handful of times. It’s only half an hour from my house and is the main reason I moved up north.
Mark: I think nine of the 14 have been; I’ve sneaked in a couple of Ping’s more recent woods and hybrids as they’re both ridiculous. I like the romance of having something off the shelf so my three wedges are all unfitted though two thirds of them are, shall we say, ‘specialist’ clubs which lend a hand to the afflicted.
Custom fittings are great, who would have thought 30 years ago they’d even be possible, but I’m a bit too fanciful to say they’re everything.
What’s the best aspect of a fitting?
Harvey: Well this is a bit awkward. I still haven’t had one yet! But I imagine the best part is hitting the sweet spot on a fresh set of puppies, getting the nod of approval from Matt the fitter and gleefully skipping back to the car with 14 new shiny clubs. Sorry I was dreaming there.
Hannah: I’m a serious perfectionist so I like to know all my equipment is set up perfectly. Getting down to the fitting centre and working on TrackMan for a few hours to crunch all the numbers is my idea of a perfect day. Golf is a hard enough game without worrying if it was you or your equipment causing the bad shot.
Alex: I actually find custom fittings a bit awkward. If you’re not swinging too well or you catch a bout of the tops/pulls/shanks, it can all get a bit embarrassing. I remember actually getting a free lesson at a fitting once, I was playing that badly. But I do like discussing how to fix certain aspects of my game, like my “power fade”. Bring your A-game.
Mark: My favourite aspect is someone showing so much interest in my golf and being able to unburden myself all in the search of perfection. You can say anything and it’s acceptable. I’d be lying if I didn’t think getting fitted for the chief was the best bit, I got fitted for the Ping G400 last year and it was almost spiritual how he kept improving things.
By the time you reach the wedges everyone’s lost a bit of enthusiasm for the process.
If you think back to your three favourite clubs ever how many were fitted or not?
Alex: I was about 10 when my grandad gave me an old Ping iron he’d cut down for me, so technically that was custom fit. I don’t want to go all Seve on you, but I used to knock about everywhere with that thing. At 19, the first thing I bought with my student loan was an off-the-shelf Anser putter with a bright blue grip. And then there’s my current 5-wood which has never let me down. A true rags-to-riches tale that should probably be made into a film.
Hannah: When I was 10 Phil Mickelson gave me his ball at the Open at Hoylake, cue him becoming my favourite player and me insisting my parents bought me a lob wedge. After sufficient nagging I finally acquired a 58-degree cut down club probably found in the back of our garage and definitely not custom fit. I used this club everywhere around the greens from this point on despite constant arguments with lady members who wanted me to chip and run with my 7-iron.
More recently my favourite clubs would be my trusty Ping hybrids. The i15 (23°) and G10 (21°) were both custom fit at Gainsborough. Our county coach used to joke I hit them closer to the pin than other players did with their wedges. The i15 is still in my bag and the G10 has only been replaced because I wanted a hybrid with stronger loft.
Harvey: I’m struggling to think of three but I’d really like to know what became of my 8-iron.
Mark: A very old Hogan Apex 5-wood which a friend wrapped round a sapling and never mended, a Tour Touch putter that I lost/was stolen in 1988 and maybe a Big Bertha 1-iron that made me feel like I was Sandy Lyle, only 15 years on. All picked off the shelf of my local pro shop.