If you think you aren’t good enough, strong enough, or experienced enough to buy custom fit golf clubs, you’re not alone. Almost 40% of golfers in a 2021 MyGolfSpy survey simply didn’t think that club fitting would benefit their games. Based on research by Golf DataTech, women players are even less likely to think club fitting is worth the investment.
Attitudes about who benefits from custom club fitting are rife in the golf community. But how does this conventional wisdom hold up against reality? Do golfers really have to be good, strong, and experienced men to benefit from custom fit clubs?
We put conventional wisdom to the test
Club Champion (club fitters), Sports Query (researchers), and Kari Haug (golf course architect) teamed up to test if women golfers – the cohort least likely to think they’ll benefit from club fitting – improve their performance with fitted clubs.
Over 250 women golfers were recruited from across the United States to participate in the study. The sample of golfers were representative of the typical woman golfer in terms of age, and they ranged in playing ability level and hitting distance.
Once women golfers were recruited to the study, Club Champion scheduled testing sessions at custom fitting centres across the United States. Players brought to the Club Champion fitting session their six-iron (or hybrid), and their driver. Using state of the art Trackman technology, the club fitter captured key ball and club metrics. This included carry and total distance, and smash factor.
Once a player’s own clubs had been benchmarked, the club fitter got to work. The goal was to improve the ball flight metrics by optimising the shaft and club head of the 6-iron and driver. When the fitter was satisfied with technological adjustments, the optimised ball and club data was captured again using Trackman technology.
What did we find? All handicaps benefitted from fitted clubs
Simply by comparing means of pre-fitting data to post-fitting data, there was a statistically significant increase in women golfers’ carry and total distance, and their smash factor. What’s more, the distance gained by fitted clubs spanned the handicap range.
This means that women golfers as a group benefitted from fitted golf clubs, as did all categories of handicap.
By digging deeper, the findings got more interesting. Statistical models allowed us to identify what type of woman golfer is more likely to benefit from club fitting. This is what we found.
As equipment aged, it cost players 1.39 yards (driver) and 0.31 yards (6-iron) per year. In practical terms, this means that technology will lose you 10 yards on your drive after seven years.
As for the sentiment that better players benefit more from fitted clubs, we found the opposite. Percentage wise, women golfers with higher handicaps were more likely to benefit from custom fit drivers than women with lower handicaps.
The conventional wisdom that only better, stronger, and more experienced men players benefit from club fitting didn’t hold up. In our analysis, players’ age, clubhead speed, or golf experience did NOT influence how beneficial club fitting was to them. Being better, stronger, and more experienced did not mean that women golfers in this study were more likely to benefit from club fitting. Instead, the benefits were shared by all women golfers.
Rethink the custom golf club fitting market
What does this study mean for women golfers and club fitting? It means we have some reeducation to do. Women golfers are missing out on technology that can significantly increase their distance and improve their striking ability. Also, club manufacturers and retailers are missing out on a market segment yet to be tapped.
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