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Golf Retail moving to a Presciption-based, Custom-order model?


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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?

bag - SunMountain Synch with Ogio Synergy X4 cart
driver - :callaway-small: Optiforce 440, Paderson Kevlar Green stiff 46.5"
fwoods - :taylormade-small: Jetspeed, 3HL regular
irons - :taylormade-small:  Speedblades 3-8, 85g stiff steel, 2 up
wedges - :edilon-small: Scor 40, 45, 50, 54, 58
putter - :ping-small: Ketsch 35" slight arc, SuperStroke 2.0 mid-slim
ball - :titelist-small: ProV1x

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I think you're on to something, but it's going to take the B&M stores to change their models as well because that's still where a vast majority of people buy their clubs at.

 

I think something along the lines of what best buy has done with their mobile department. Find and train employees to be experts in club fittings and then order the clubs for the customer. Most of the time when I see a big box fitting it's to get them to buy a club off the rack not order anything custom.

Driver:   :callaway-small: Epic 10.5 set to 9.5 w/ Tour AD-DI 44.5

FW:   :cobra-small: F6 baffler set at 16º

Hybrid:  NONE
Irons:   :taylormade-small:  3i 2014 TP CB  4-PW 2011 TP MC w/ TT S400

Wedges:   :nike-small: 52º :nike-small: 56º  :edel-golf-1: 60 º w/ KBS C-Taper XS Soft-stepped

Putter:   :ping-small: Sigma G Tyne 34 inches Gold dot

 

 

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This is exactly what I've done over the past few years. Went for an iron fitting and have carried that "prescription" through at least 4-5 sets of irons.

 

That said I still don't see a paradigm shift towards these super fittings. I play golf regularly with 12-15 guys who all range from 1-8 indexes. I think I'm the only one who has ever been fit for anything. These are all serious golfers playing 30-100 rounds a year. It's just not on their radar.

 

I think the majority of golfers are still going to hit in store or at a demo day and then buy online without ever going through the fitting process. I don't think it's right, but it's the way it is

Driver: :callaway-logo-1: Epic SZ w/ VA Composites Raijin 65 04

3w: :taylormade-small:'16 M2 hl w/ Diamana D+ 82

5w: :cleveland-small: Launcher HB w/ HZRDUS Yellow

Hybrid: :cleveland-small: 22 deg. Launcher HB w/ HZRDUS Black

Irons: :ping-small: 5i-UW G700 w/ X100 soft stepped once

Wedges: :cleveland-small: 54 & 58 CBX w/ Nippon Modus 3 125

Putter: :odyssey-small: Red 7s

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I was fitted for my irons but everything else I've pieced together on my own and I unfortunately don't have access to a launch monitor. Obviously my SCOR wedges were based off my iron specs. Eventually I'd like to get a full bag fitting at a place like Cool Clubs or 2nd Swing if I can save the money for the airfare to such a place.

Driver -  :taylormade-small: M1 9.5* w/ Aldila Rogue Silver 70X

Fairway -   :taylormade-small: M1 5W 19* w/ Aldila Rogue Silver 70X

Hybrids -   :ping-small: G25 4H 23*

Irons -  :mizuno-small: JPX 850 Forged 4-PW w/ Nippon N.S. Pro 1150S

Wedges - :mizuno-small: S5 50*07, 54*12, 58*12 w/ Nippon N.S. Pro 1150S

Putter - Oddyssey Metal-X #7 w/ SuperStroke Pistol GT 2.0

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I think more golfers are aware of the value of fitting than there were a few years ago, but I'm not sure there's enough " critical mass" outside of larger urban areas to support that business model. Frankly, I'm concerned that I may need to travel to the Twin Cities this spring to get a fitting that offers a true custom fit. After dislocating my shoulder last summer, I NEED a fresh fitting!

 

I'll do that, if that's the case, but I think most area golfers that want a fitting will simply attend the Demo Days or get a vendor "cart fit" at the local Big Box store.

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What's In The Bag

Driver :titelist-small:

Titleist 913 D2 10.5* (set to 9.75* / Neutral) 46" Paderson KINETIXX Kevlar Green - R

Fairway Wood

Tom Wishon 949 MC 16.5* Fujikura Speeder 569-A

Hybrid  :cleveland-small: Hibore 22* Aldila VS Proto Blue

Irons  :ping-small: G series 5-P

Wedges :ping-small:Glide 54* SS / 60* TS - SCOR 53*

Putter     :nike-small: Nike Method 001 / P2 Reflex grip 35"

Ball

Master Grip Tour C4

Bag

Datrek DG Lite  

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I think more golfers are aware of the value of fitting than there were a few years ago, but I'm not sure there's enough " critical mass" outside of larger urban areas to support that business model. Frankly, I'm concerned that I may need to travel to the Twin Cities this spring to get a fitting that offers a true custom fit. After dislocating my shoulder last summer, I NEED a fresh fitting!

I'll do that, if that's the case, but I think most area golfers that want a fitting will simply attend the Demo Days or get a vendor "cart fit" at the local Big Box store.

Sounds like a great excuse to come golf with some MN MGS'ers to me!

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Driver: :callaway-logo-1: Epic SZ w/ VA Composites Raijin 65 04

3w: :taylormade-small:'16 M2 hl w/ Diamana D+ 82

5w: :cleveland-small: Launcher HB w/ HZRDUS Yellow

Hybrid: :cleveland-small: 22 deg. Launcher HB w/ HZRDUS Black

Irons: :ping-small: 5i-UW G700 w/ X100 soft stepped once

Wedges: :cleveland-small: 54 & 58 CBX w/ Nippon Modus 3 125

Putter: :odyssey-small: Red 7s

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Sounds like a great excuse to come golf with some MN MGS'ers to me!

Indeed, it does!

What's In The Bag

Driver :titelist-small:

Titleist 913 D2 10.5* (set to 9.75* / Neutral) 46" Paderson KINETIXX Kevlar Green - R

Fairway Wood

Tom Wishon 949 MC 16.5* Fujikura Speeder 569-A

Hybrid  :cleveland-small: Hibore 22* Aldila VS Proto Blue

Irons  :ping-small: G series 5-P

Wedges :ping-small:Glide 54* SS / 60* TS - SCOR 53*

Putter     :nike-small: Nike Method 001 / P2 Reflex grip 35"

Ball

Master Grip Tour C4

Bag

Datrek DG Lite  

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I am a little late to this party as is SOP for me but I will throw my 2 cents in if I may.

The green grass pro shops died in the mid 70s when pro only equipment companies went big box so to speak. I remember the first one they opened up in our area it was called Pro Golf Discount and soon after they were followed by Nevada Bob's. I remember my Dad saying this is the end of things for the club pro and it hastened his decision to retire and draw his Social Security.

Now as far as golfers there are many different types. I would say that less than 95% of all golfers are as educated about equipment as us folks that are on this site and other golf blogs.

As far as custom fitting I saw the light a couple of years ago and that is why most of my equipment is fitted to me now. which I have always been a tinkerer on my stuff anyhow.

I think the key is getting a local custom fitter that you trust even if you buy over the counter OEM stuff it can and should be adjusted to fit an individual and if problems arise you can go there to make further needed adjustments. In the future I see a few specialized fitters in an area depending on size and how many play golf in that area. I see the big box stores selling equipment to the uneducated masses but players like us on MGS will find us a local fitter. I look and watch a lot and when I go to the big box stores it is to buy supplies that I need then and now and I watch and listen to people and the general consensus of the golfing public is that fitting etc is a load of crap and they will continue to buy equipment ill suited to their game or they know so little that they can be BSed into buying expensive equipment that they could not possibly play with if you held a 38 revolver to their head!! Oh but they the consumer will tell you that is top notch equipment that (insert name of PGA pro) plays them. That may be true but you can bet the farm that the equipment is fitted and "tuned" for that PGA pro!

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Driver --- Honma G1-X Stock R Flex----  3W Callaway Steelhead UST Pro Force Gold 65 stiff--- 2 iron 1980 Macgregor VIP Nike R flex-------- Irons 3 thru PW 1980 Macgregor VIP Hogan Apex shafts--- SW Cleveland 588 Sensicore S-400-- Putter Rusty Santa Fe Bulls Eye Fluted shaft-- Bag Old School Hoofer I had in the stash--- Goes along with my raggety persona

 

 

 

 

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A while back in one of the golf equipment industry is dying threads I mentioned the possibility of OEMs trying a different model.

 

They could just have fitting carts in local shops and do direct selling. After a fitting the shop enters a code with the OEM, the golfer gets that order code. When the golfer others online directly from the OEM the golfer has to indicate the code that credits the shop with the fitting. Shop gets a certain commission.

 

Of course it was shot down because the "golfer wants his clubs now". The OEMs have to try new things because the current model now has to many layers/jobs to support, the industry is not that profitable.

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I have done 2 different Titleist Tour Van fittings and they are great. These "Super fittings" are really the best thing for the really serious golfers. I would say 5 handicap or less. Most of the Bigger courses have the ability to fit most other players. Also store like Golfmart and some smaller stores like my favorite Fairway Golf USA can do a fitting better then the local shop but not quite a "Super Fitting".

 

There is a local guy that rents out his Trackman for use, he meets you at the desired location sets everything ups then watches you hit balls for however long you pay him for. He will try to help with suggestions also if you ask. I have done enough Trackman sessions that I can eyeball the flight characteristics I am looking for and narrow down the clubs and shaft combos before contacting him for some Trackman time.

 Ping G410 LST 10.5 set -1* Flat Accra TZ5 65 M5

Callaway Epic Flash 15* set -1 Aldila ATX Blue 75TX

Ben Hogan FT Worth Hi 19* KBS Tour V X

Ben Hogan PTX Pro 4-P KBS Tour V X 2* Flat 4* loft increments

Hogan Equalizer 50* KBS Hi-Rev 2.0 X 2* Flat

Hogan Equalizer 56* KBS Hi-Rev 2.0 2* Flat

Hogan Equalizer 62* KBS Hi-Rev 2.0 2* Flat

EVNROLL ER7 P2 Aware Tour
Scotty Cameron Newport2 Buttonback P2 Aware Tour Grip
Snell MTB-X

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I have done 2 different Titleist Tour Van fittings and they are great. These "Super fittings" are really the best thing for the really serious golfers. I would say 5 handicap or less. Most of the Bigger courses have the ability to fit most other players. Also store like Golfmart and some smaller stores like my favorite Fairway Golf USA can do a fitting better then the local shop but not quite a "Super Fitting".

 

There is a local guy that rents out his Trackman for use, he meets you at the desired location sets everything ups then watches you hit balls for however long you pay him for. He will try to help with suggestions also if you ask. I have done enough Trackman sessions that I can eyeball the flight characteristics I am looking for and narrow down the clubs and shaft combos before contacting him for some Trackman time.

 

Last year I contemplated doing what this fellow with the Trackman is doing.   I was going to buy a TM or a FS and rent time, to both individuals and as an aide to local Pros for their fittings.   What I discovered is that the local Pro's had no interest.   I figured they would want to cluster their monitor time into condensed weeks or weekends in which they knocked off all their regulars and if I could get a rotation of 5 or 6 local pros on board, it might pay.   It turned out that the 5 or 6 local pros just preferred NOT to fit.   They are basically out of the fitting business.   While I probably would still get the occasional call from individuals if I networked and put my business card up at shops and clubhouses, I don't think our population base is big enough to offset the 5 figure capital outlay for the gear.   So I never did it.   But if someone else did it, I would pay him once or twice a year!

bag - SunMountain Synch with Ogio Synergy X4 cart
driver - :callaway-small: Optiforce 440, Paderson Kevlar Green stiff 46.5"
fwoods - :taylormade-small: Jetspeed, 3HL regular
irons - :taylormade-small:  Speedblades 3-8, 85g stiff steel, 2 up
wedges - :edilon-small: Scor 40, 45, 50, 54, 58
putter - :ping-small: Ketsch 35" slight arc, SuperStroke 2.0 mid-slim
ball - :titelist-small: ProV1x

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Yeah being in San Diego he does pretty well. I know one of the local shops uses him for fitting a couple times a month. I have been looking into the Ernest ES14 for myself but just not sure if it's accurate enough to pay $500 when I could get 8 hours on a track man for less.

 Ping G410 LST 10.5 set -1* Flat Accra TZ5 65 M5

Callaway Epic Flash 15* set -1 Aldila ATX Blue 75TX

Ben Hogan FT Worth Hi 19* KBS Tour V X

Ben Hogan PTX Pro 4-P KBS Tour V X 2* Flat 4* loft increments

Hogan Equalizer 50* KBS Hi-Rev 2.0 X 2* Flat

Hogan Equalizer 56* KBS Hi-Rev 2.0 2* Flat

Hogan Equalizer 62* KBS Hi-Rev 2.0 2* Flat

EVNROLL ER7 P2 Aware Tour
Scotty Cameron Newport2 Buttonback P2 Aware Tour Grip
Snell MTB-X

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Here comes two more cents. I was properly fit for my first time ever (irons only) back in August of this year (2014). By fit I mean a complete "proper" fitting. I was fit the way Tom Wishon describes fitting. I know this because my fitter was trained early on by Tom Wishon and they are friends to this day. The Wishon method is too in-depth to write about here but you can look it up. I had one other "fitting" if you can call it that a few years ago. It was performed at a local retail golf shop. Looking back I was ignorant and the fitting was a joke. From the discussion above it sounds like any fitting other than a "retail" fitting is called a Super Fitting. I personally wouldn't call a complete professional and proper fitting "super". A proper complete fitting is and should be for everyone. It really should be called a Standard Fitting. Granted some guys might have had more technology applied to their fitting in the form of body sensors, foot pressure/stance monitors, etc, etc. The fitting I experienced lasted about 4 hours. There was much discussion back and forth between me and my fitter. My fitter had set aside the entire afternoon just for me. I had done much research regarding the style of clubs and brands available. And, believe me I looked into just about every make and model which included all the big names everyone knows and many custom brands that surprisingly many people had never heard of. Including me. I also researched many professional fitters from small shops guys to the big and fancy fitters like Cool Clubs, etc. I talked to most of these folks on the phone and visited a few shops. I also talked to actual players that had been fit for and purchased clubs through these outfits. I received mixed reviews from the guys that had been fit and purchased clubs from some of these shops. One guy was so disappointed with his fitting (from a well-known cool and popular shop) and the clubs he ended up going to another fitter and purchasing all new clubs. Long story. Which he says he loves. Anyway… after many months research I decided on a small one-man shop guy. He only deals in a few custom designs. No big name brands. My fitter has made his career from club fitting. That's all he does. He's been at it for 30 plus years. His place of business/shop is not fancy. It was neat and clean and he had everything modern club fitting requires. My fitter also personally assembles/builds the clubs with his own two hands. My fitter was enjoyable to work with but he was all business that day. His focus was entirely on me and about my game. Oh, did I say? I had to drive 3.5 hours each way to reach his place of business. It was worth it. I now have a fantastic set of irons like no other I've ever played. I absolutely love them and I'll play them for many years. Next up this spring I'm going back to my fitter for driver, fairway, hybrids and putter fitting. Let me say one more thing… buying yourself a custom set of irons like I did will cost you more than OTR clubs. Period! How much more depends on variables such as brand of head, shaft, etc. Also, and I'd say depending on the level of experience your fitter has might also determine what his fee is. The way I approached buying a proper and professionally fit set of clubs was as an investment. I don't regret my decision one bit. It was the best thing I've done for me and my game in 45 years. Ouch!

 

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My Sun Mountain bag currently includes:   TWGTLogo2.png.06c802075f4d211691d88895b3f34b75.png 771CSI 5i - PW and TWGTLogo2.png.06c802075f4d211691d88895b3f34b75.png PFC Micro Tour-c 52°, 56°, 60 wedges

                                                                               :755178188_TourEdge: EXS 10.5*, TWGTLogo2.png.06c802075f4d211691d88895b3f34b75.png 929-HS FW4 16.5* 

                                                                                :edel-golf-1: Willimette w/GolfPride Contour

 

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I agree with you that in a perfect world what I called a "super-fitting" (purely my own words) should be a standard fitting.   I called it a super-fitting merely because it isn't the norm.   The crappy, short time, knuckleheaded, suspect simulator, B&M store fitting that tries to push brands at you is far more common.

 

Like most everyone else of a certain age, my first fitting was the ol' Ping fitting.   Measure your arms to floor, your height, your lie, the size of your hands, and try to get you in the right dot with the right shaft flex and length and then slap the right grip on it.   Is there anything wrong with the Ping fitting today?   Nope, it's just that we take far more factors into consideration.

 

I have a scratch buddy who just went to a Wishon half day super-fitting.   Everything changed from what he thought he was or should get.   Guy has about a 115 ss, but he ended in a 45" stiff shaft with a 9.5 430 head.   No 3 wood, a 5 wood that he hits 270, a 3 hybrid and 4-PW, and a couple of very spinny wedges.   (I've never seen wedges spin as much as the Wishon wedges),   Standard lengths and standard lies in everything when formerly he played 3 degrees flat and 1 inch long.   The Wishon guy got him away from the extremes and more toward the average -- and he hits the ball better than ever now.   Was he well served?   Looks like it to me now that I'm losing to him.

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bag - SunMountain Synch with Ogio Synergy X4 cart
driver - :callaway-small: Optiforce 440, Paderson Kevlar Green stiff 46.5"
fwoods - :taylormade-small: Jetspeed, 3HL regular
irons - :taylormade-small:  Speedblades 3-8, 85g stiff steel, 2 up
wedges - :edilon-small: Scor 40, 45, 50, 54, 58
putter - :ping-small: Ketsch 35" slight arc, SuperStroke 2.0 mid-slim
ball - :titelist-small: ProV1x

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Yep my friend has been trained on the Wishon fitting methods and has been in the business for over 20 years. We have been great friends for about 10 years now. I thought I was as good of a fitter and technician as anyone else until I started hanging around him. you could fill a dump truck with what I did NOT know. He finally asked me last year if I had ever done a formal fitting I said no. Now you have to remember that we have played a lot of golf together over the years and he knows my game and style inside and out. We decided on building me a set of clubs from the start. Now the Infiniti brand suited me well and he fitted me with the best of both worlds forged and cavity backs. Nothing against Infiniti but I do not like their wedges have experimented with every wedge they make. My friend suggested the Wishon wedges and I researched them in depth and agreed with him. so my new ones should be in sometime next week. Being custom fit by a real fitter is priceless whether they build a custom set from the ground up or tweak an existing OEM set

Driver --- Honma G1-X Stock R Flex----  3W Callaway Steelhead UST Pro Force Gold 65 stiff--- 2 iron 1980 Macgregor VIP Nike R flex-------- Irons 3 thru PW 1980 Macgregor VIP Hogan Apex shafts--- SW Cleveland 588 Sensicore S-400-- Putter Rusty Santa Fe Bulls Eye Fluted shaft-- Bag Old School Hoofer I had in the stash--- Goes along with my raggety persona

 

 

 

 

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