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  1. The MP-20 SEL is a phenomenal set. I decided to get my first fitting after playing for about 7 years. I tried 6 brands and landed on the set I thought I had no business trying. I had no intentions of trying any blades but it felt just like everyone says about Mizuno, and they are quite forgiving! (except that damn 5 iron... I wish that was an HMB like the 3 & 4 irons). I also can't say enough things about the fitting experience at 2ndSwing in Philadelphia. I've had uninspired trips like everyone at Golf Galaxy & Dick's, but I get better service each time I walk through their doors. They have better prices on the new stuff too! I got a TS3 driver and 3wood, a jumble of different vokeys, and a Ping putter all "used" from 2ndSwing. Not even the pros there could tell if they were hit at all. Last thing - I got a free sleeve of the new Mizuno balls with my irons, don't waste your time! They feel like old school NXT Tour S balls but with a less durable cover
  2. Over the Christmas break, I had the opportunity to visit, The Tour Van at 2nd Swing in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After taking a jook at John's experience there, I had to give it a look. 2nd Swing has two retail locations in the area and specializes in used equipment. They also have a unique tour issue market as well. They have an eBay store too, a site that has become pretty popular among the golf forum commities. 2nd Swing has always done fittings for both new and used equipment, but recently expanded to in-depth fitting. They expanded from their retail location in Minneapolis, and have a studio devoted to fitting. They've employed the "GEARS" system which has been described as an MRI for your golf swing (http://gearsgolf.com/). A unique aspect about 2nd Swing is that not only will they fit you to the latest and greatest from the OEM's but they'll also fit you into their used equipment. They're able to do the custom builds right on site, and can get you fitted into any club you want. Video2.MOV 2ns swing utilizes a universal "quick-connect" system on their fitting heads. They basically take an existing head and modify it to their adaptors. Using one adjustable system in their heads allows all of their shafts to fit. That minimizes the need to have shafts for every manufacturer. I was fit by Thomas Elsberry, Lead Clubfitter, for 2nd Swing. I was able to hit all of the new product from 2015. There was one club that stood out for me in terms of feel as well as forgiveness off the clubface. The numbers supported what I was feeling as well, which really helps the psyche. The Callaway Golf Big Bertha Alpha 815 was the club that felt the best off the face, of all of the new offerings for the season. It was ultimately the club I was fit for, as it produced the best numbers. This club was a definite outlier, and was consistently the longest and most accurate of the bunch. The combination of distance, tight despersion circles, as well as a remarkable feel off the face, the 815 was no doubt the club for me. The Fitted Recommendation: Callaway Golf Big Bertha Alpha 815 10* Gravity Core Down 44.5" Aldila Rouge Silver 60 Stiff (Tipped 1") Video.MOV I came away impressed with the Tour Van at 2nd Swing. With the GEARS system, equipment selection, and their ability to perform tour quality builds, they're among the top clubfitters in the five state area. Like a good physician, the fitter is an important component in the process, especially in the area of shaft knowledge. Elsberry and his team of fitters at The Tour Van know their equipment. Product knowledge and fitting expertise, combined with GEARS/Trackman, you'll come away confident that you're playing the best performing equipment for your game.
  3. This post was stimulated in part by Barbajo's recent super-fitting and also by some of my own research into the Cool Clubs franchise. It was also compounded by the changes I see happening this winter at the retail level in my area. Basically, all my local green grass shops have GIVEN UP selling clubs. The pros who work them don't have the technical expertise to fit anymore, they don't have launch monitors, and they do not keep fitting carts on the premises. They have dropped their on site inventory of non-perishable items (meaning clubs) down to basically zero. For them, 80% of equipment "sales" are only year-end cash ins of tournament winnings from guys who say "Order me a Scotty, I guess. I gotta spend the credit somehow." Likewise, the guys I know who work in B&M off course stores lament that they can't move product to serious golfers. They say that guys like me get a "fitting" with them and then go buy on-line. Of course, lots of guys like me only carp about these "six-swing, knucklehead-operator, jacked-monitor" mini-fittings that we get in B&M stores and we wonder, "Why bother? Either do it right or not at all." To be fit, or not to be fit, is no longer a question. It is de rigeur. To show your nose on a golf blog and admit you haven't been fit recently for every club in your bag is to stink the stank of rank amateur. You have to be fit these days, and so the question is what kind of fitting should you get? I think the new model will be "Pay to get Super-fit, then custom order directly from the manufacturer." Let's leave hacker and starter clubs out of the discussion for now. They'll continue to make their no-brainer purchases whereever they get them now. I'm talking about the way golf wonks will buy their HQ clubs. I think the trend has already changed and will get more entrenched in the new channel of buying by paying for an objective "super-fit" session that costs serious bucks, but does NOT expect you to buy clubs from them. These tour van sessions cost $350 or more and they last a half day AT LEAST. They use a battery of highly sophisticated sensors and software that take specialized training. Most teaching pros simply do not know how to run them. They are performed in specialized studios with walls of heads and shafts. Overhead that a green grass pro can't afford. These super-fittings are highly technical and very involved. They take a LONG time. When you complete such a fitting, you are handed a prescription of your specs and what worked best for you, but no one has an expectation that you will buy clubs from them. You can take those specs straight to an OEM like Mizuno Yoro craft, or the Ping WRX shop, and have the clubs built for you, or you can have someone else do it. Either way, you are probably going to end up with clubs that are highly customized to a degree that was not considered even 5 years ago. If this is true, and super-fittings are now necessary, I think we will see a move away from traditional B&M's (Golfsmith, Edwin Watts, Golf Galaxy etc.) and toward outlets like Cool Club franchises (http://coolclubs.com/) or the 2nd Swing facility Barbajo visited. One per city, not one in the next state, where we go NOT to window-shop product and walk away, but where we go for a paid service and only maybe place an order. I think we will stop looking at golf retail like a "clothing store" where we browse outfits and start looking at it like an "optometrist's office" where we pick up prescriptions. We will pay to do this once every few years, but probably not every year, and we will carry our prescriptions with us, reusing them several times until our bodies or situations change. Anyway, those are my thoughts, what do you think?
  4. Here's Part 2 of my review of the full-bag fitting process I went through at the Tour Van Experience at 2nd Swing Golf in Minneapolis. You can check out the Driver Fitting here. In this segment Master Fitter Thomas Elsberry walks me through hybrids, the challenges of being fit for this unique club and what a guy with a kinda goofy swing like me might need... As I learned in my driver fitting, I have an out to in, slightly over-the-top swing, and manage to keep my clubface fairly closed at impact. As a result, I'm really, really good at hitting the ball left. With a draw. That is when I don't slice or hit a fade. Thomas fit me into an X flex Fujikura Pro Tour Spec 73 shaft for my driver. Our next step was hybrids. I've never been fit for hybrids before, which may explain my love-hate relationship with that club. I've bagged hybrids ranging from the Adams A2 OS, the TMag RBZ Stage 2 to the Cleveland Mashie and the Cobra Baffler. They've pretty much all been impulse buys based on price. I've liked each one of them from time to time, but love? As Tina Turner sang, what's love got to do, got to do with it? All those hybrids are now second-hand emotions. “Hybrids? There's basically one style of head out there,” said Thomas. "Different manufacturers, but the heads aren't all that different. “A guy like you who hits left usually doesn't like hybrids much, because there's not a lot of toe weight. Think of the engineers who design these clubs. If 85% of the golfers out there slice, you're going to build these things to not slice. “Guys like you sorta get caught in between.” I told Thomas that I hit my hybrids okay this season – better than anything else I'd hit, but they tended to be hook machines. He asked me what they were – told him Cobra Bafflers. “Well no wonder, these are made for slicers. Maybe not the best choice for you.” “For a guy that hooks it,” he said, “you're probably not going to find a hybrid you like without putting lead tape on the toe, or you have to find a shaft that fits you absolutely perfectly, with the torque values you need.” Because I'm a Level 5 Club Ho, I also had a new purchase with me, a Nike Covert Tour 2.0 hybrid, set to 17 degrees (I had a gift card, there was a sale – I'm the victim here!). On the monitor I was hitting it reasonably well, but low – like hitting Yao Ming in the chest low. If he was standing to my left. I hit the new Titleist hybrid, as well. “You're hitting the Titleist phenomenally,” Thomas said. “The ball speeds are great and the launch angle is good, but the spin is actually pretty low for what you want a hybrid to do. “Right now you're at 2300 to 2800 RPM. That's not stopping on the green – that's ricocheting off it, so there's two things we could do: either change golf balls to something with more spin, or we can change your launch angle to help you hit it a little higher. We need to use either launch angle or spin to get this ball to stop.” We discussed trajectory a little more. “See the vertical land angle? – 35* is kinda the magic number,” he said. “Anything less is like skipping a rock on a pond – it's gonna skip and bounce. Above 35* is like throwing a rock in the air. “Your trajectory is on the high end – you start on the high end of the gray, but you start dropping to the bottom because the spin's so low. You're peak trajectory is very low with the 17* hybrid. We want it to spin and stop.” “Now a lot of that depends on the player. If you like hitting that hybrid off the tee, well then you want it to run.” A light bulb then went off in my head – adjust the loft of the club to the course you're playing! (D'oh!) I'm okay with a 17* hybrid that runs, since I'm using it either off the tee or for second shots on longer par 5's. With a 19* to 23* hybrids, I probably would want more spin and stop. “We can use the Titleist 915 HD head and fit you up with the right shaft,” Thomas said. “I can knock the spin down even more and make this thing a 2nd driver for you. It'll be easier to hit off the ground, too.” Then Thomas asked the Million Dollar Question: “How far do you want this to go?” Every fiber of my being wanted to say “as far as possible,” but I knew that was the wrong answer. I'd spent enough time with Thomas to know we were building a bag that works, and every club has a job to do. “Ummm, around 220 – 230?” Good answer, because that's what I had just done with both the Titleist and Nike. “We sell a lot of hybrids that, when a guy hits it, it goes a mile,” Thomas said. “He loves it, but it's supposed to go a number, not a mile. Like if your 4 iron goes 200, then your 3 hybrid should be going 213, not 240. I mean, 240 is awesome, but we don't want 240 out of that club. That's where building your set appropriately is huge. Most golfers don't do that.” My plan 2015 is to play 2 or 3 hybrids – a 17* and a 20* to fill the 210 to 230 range, and then maybe a 23* for the 190 to 200 range, although the idea of a long-distance hybrid instead of my Cally 12.5* 2Deep is intriguing. Thomas gave me some options. “For you it's going to be a weighting issue – how do we get this thing to not hook?. Titleist is good because it's adjustable,” he said. “You can open that face up. Same with the Nike. Always keep it in the open setting, and you'll probably want some lead tape on it. “And if you're putting lead tape on the toe, you're adding weight to the club. You'll probably want to cut the length a little to keep it in balance.” There are options for the hybrid challenged, as Thomas told me. “You'll need to find a hybrid that opens up the face because 80% of them you can't use because they won't do what you need them to do,” he said. “Part of it is your swing, but that's why a lot of guys have switched to driving irons because you can bend them flat – you can change the lie angle as needed. “Granted, they're harder to hit, but at least they now have a club that's easier to hit than a standard 3-iron,” Thomas said. “Or, like with your Nike irons, you could go with the Vapor Speed 3 or 4 iron head – those are the most forgiving head in the line. You bend it flat so you can't hook it, and there you go.” So, the bottom line is that we really didn't settle on hybrids at this fitting. Thomas did suggest that I could play an X shaft in my hybrids, so I will either try to swap that Nike at GolfSmith for something more appropriate, or find a shaft that will work. As far as a 20* and 23* option go, I really don't know what I'm going to do yet. The good news is that, in Minnesota, it really won't be an issue until late April sometime!
  5. If you read our thread on wedge fitting (click here), you may enjoy this TwinCitiesGolf.com interview with 2nd Swing Master Fitter Thomas Elsberry... Thomas did my wedge fitting, and I have a full bag fitting scheduled for this Friday. Let me know if you have any specific questions you'd like me to ask him... Oh, and did you catch the "free fittings every Saturday" bit? Sometimes winter in Minnesota has its perks. Sometimes....
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