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Should Fittings be Free?


GolfSpy MPR
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Doesn’t this also fall in to the category of using a computer program for fitting like true golf fit where it really takes out the need for a competent fitter and reducing cost. Do I think you should have to pay for fittings sure, we pay for everything else. Should you have to pay if you are a member of a club, no. I think your dues or yearly fee should cover the fitting cost. If you go to a higher end place you are going to have to pay and it’s really only right that they would charge when they take on the risk and overhead, plus you are paying for the attention to detail with your build. It should be right the first time without excuses. 

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1 hour ago, cnosil said:

I'll take Adam's position and tweak it a little.  For a top end fitting paying for a facility like TXG is probably fine.   For big box retailers,  if they had competent fitters that could educate people on what to look for in clubs and help them pick equipment it would probably benefit the store and the golfer.  It would benefit the store by building some loyalty from the golfer since they feel like they got some value in the fitting.   I look at many of the posts on this site where people are saying that they bought this club or that shaft and they think it is wrong.   Have them pay for the fitting and if they buy the shaft or clubs then the fitting is free.    

 There are small pro shops that do this but there’s no way they could afford a fitter to do the work if they have any free fittings. Even with the price of the fitting put towards the purchase people still surf the Internet for the best price. I’ve seen it several times where a guy goes to his car, searches for the setup somewhere to see if they can find it cheaper, if they do they come back in several minutes or days later and tell the fitter they found it for x price elsewhere and can he match it

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14 minutes ago, RickyBobby_PR said:

 There are small pro shops that do this but there’s no way they could afford a fitter to do the work if they have any free fittings. Even with the price of the fitting put towards the purchase people still surf the Internet for the best price. I’ve seen it several times where a guy goes to his car, searches for the setup somewhere to see if they can find it cheaper, if they do they come back in several minutes or days later and tell the fitter they found it for x price elsewhere and can he match it

Don't disagree with anything you are saying.  The point of the podcast was to discuss that ideally fittings should be free to benefit inexperienced golfers to help them get more enjoyment from the game.  As discussed, perspectives also change when things are "free" vs. having to pay for something.   Fundamentally not a complete solution as players also need lessons to help with the improvement.  

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If you own a Porsche do you bring it to a certified Porsche mechanic to be fixed or your local garage mechanic? Its simple if you want the best fifting go to a certified professional and pay for it. If you want an ok fitting then hit up a big box store or another avenue. Your approach to golf and your budget should guide your path. Looking to play on a mini tour or at some other high level or do you want to play and have fun but play decent with somewhat proper fitted equipment?

I would have to drive 2 hours to get to a fitter and I don't know how good he is. I have to drive 2 hours in the opposite direction to get to a big box store. I can also wait for a demo day at my club and drive 5 minutes. This usually is once or twice a season. I opt for demo days. I schedule time with the 4 or 5 manufacturers. The attendance of golfers is not so massive that they won't spend quality time with you. My club has track man right next to the event. So you can use the reps track man or take it over to the clubs track man for comparison. Our local golf shop puts on the event (he doesn't fit or even have a net to hit into at his store).  At demo day all your data is recorded and you get a recommendation in paper hard copy. A duplicate goes to the golf store so he knows what to order for you when of if you choose to move forward. An email is also sent to you from the rep. So I can compare my results between manufacturers. I prefer an outdoor fitting experience because I can see the ball flight. I have had three different types. On line, big box store, and demo days. I have had positive results from all three. I have not done the high end fitter type of service and probably won't. That is due to accessibility to one and the price he charges.  

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2 hours ago, jtgavigan said:

MyGolfSpy took a hit in my eyes today. I was hoping for an actual discussion and not an "I am right and you aren't" diatribe. There are lots of shades of gray on this and it is not as black and white as what Adam tried to make it sound like. Also, let others speak. You invited them to be there. Quit cutting them off just because you disagree. 

Agree totally. It was as if they just invited him on there and set him up to be a punching bag. Pretty unprofessional.

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3 hours ago, PMookie said:

A fitter spends $20,000 right away on a new Trackman, then thousands and thousands more on shafts and club heads. Add-in rent, taxes, incomes, utilities, insurance, etc and it’s a ridiculous amount of money, and it’s not a ONE-TIME expenditure. You gotta get each new shaft, head, etc. 

Asking because I don't know, but I always assumed that golf retailers got the heads and "no cost" shaft options (basic fitting cart) for free or close to it from the manufacturer's (assuming you hit a certain sales threshold).  That was the reason why they only ever have current products available for fittings even though they may have older models available on the floor or still be able to purchase last gen equipment from the manufacturer.  Sending back the old stuff to the mfr or at least not making it available to the public was part of the deal having a retail account and getting the new equipment.

Club champion, True Spec etc would be the same scenario except that they have to need to also get all of those exotic shafts stocked too which is where a big chunk of money is spent on inventory.  Although I have to believe that at some point (sales threshold) they would start getting a lot of those for free too from the individual shaft manufacturers, which is why there are very few competitors to those 2 for truly custom fitting.  Starting off your own fitting studio with all of the major shaft brands would be prohibitively expensive.

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9 hours ago, ChitownM2 said:

Asking because I don't know, but I always assumed that golf retailers got the heads and "no cost" shaft options (basic fitting cart) for free or close to it from the manufacturer's (assuming you hit a certain sales threshold).  That was the reason why they only ever have current products available for fittings even though they may have older models available on the floor or still be able to purchase last gen equipment from the manufacturer.  Sending back the old stuff to the mfr or at least not making it available to the public was part of the deal having a retail account and getting the new equipment.

Club champion, True Spec etc would be the same scenario except that they have to need to also get all of those exotic shafts stocked too which is where a big chunk of money is spent on inventory.  Although I have to believe that at some point (sales threshold) they would start getting a lot of those for free too from the individual shaft manufacturers, which is why there are very few competitors to those 2 for truly custom fitting.  Starting off your own fitting studio with all of the major shaft brands would be prohibitively expensive.

I am sure it's changed since I've worked in golf but the business model was always tiered.  The amount of demo product was attached to how much shop inventory you would commit to at the beginning of a product cycle.  If you buy 6 new drivers and hybrids along with two sets of irons and some wedges, you get X.  More in shop meant more available for demo.

 

That didn't mean you get the demo for free, you're still paying for it, just at a reduced price.

 

Shop is still committed to the cost of demo as well as retail product.

 

This entire idea of free, especially in the golf business is terrible.  

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11 hours ago, Tom the Golf Nut said:

Its simple if you want the best fifting go to a certified professional and pay for it. If you want an ok fitting then hit up a big box store or another avenue.

A certified fitter doesn’t guarantee a good or even ok fitting. The certification means they issued a course given by someone or some brand and nothing more. If they don’t understand the swing they will improperly fit a golfer. I’ve seen it with a titleist tech rep and two separate Ping reps who get trained at hq and learn on the job there, and in the last year plus the people brands are hiring to do demo days you are likely to find a tech rep that’s not that good and some on this forum would run curled around them.

Some of the best fitters I’ve been too have no formal training or certifications. However they understand the golf swing and how to fit to it.  

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Like others have said, that’s the first NPG episode I shut off (well) before the end. Adam really just kept hammering the same points, not really acknowledging the TXG angle. Too often he deflected TXGs POV by saying that’s not my problem, like a 12 year old. Adam was basically saying there would be no standalone fitters, every fitter would have retail club sales if not a full line of golf equipment- would have been nice if that had been made clear? At least in the 2/3rds that I watched, two questions came to my mind, maybe they came up later.

1) Is the place that Adam worked with free fittings still employing that model? Why haven’t we heard of them if it’s so successful, and why hasn’t that model appeared all over? One example doesn’t make the case anyway.

2) Isn’t that what GG/DSG did a ways back where they had golf pros in 560 of their stores? Evidently that didn’t translate to better store sales as I remember they terminated all the pros suddenly back in 2014…

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41 minutes ago, bens197 said:

That didn't mean you get the demo for free, you're still paying for it, just at a reduced price.

Shop is still committed to the cost of demo as well as retail product.

This entire idea of free, especially in the golf business is terrible.  

this could and maybe should change?  If manufacturers want to sell more product providing a free demo equipment to shops could be a way to do this.  Obviously lots of other aspects occur like sales incentives from brands and making sales associates staff to create bias.  
 

if we were to change the industry, shops would have access to product.  they would also have access to or staff that were good at the fitting process  and could actually help the customer with product selection and show why a particular club wa s better than another.  Help educate the consumer!  
 

the point of the podcast wasn’t to look at today’s strategy, but what should really be happening in the industry.  There is definitely room in the marketplace. and benefit to both free and paid fittings options.  As said places like CC, TrueSoec, Cool Clubs, TXG would still do higher end more robust fittings and cater to the small percent of the dedicated golfer market and get paid for that in depth service. 
 

 

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13 hours ago, jtgavigan said:

Another point i have is that there are only so many people out there who are even interested in becoming a competent fitter and there are only so many hours in the day to fit people. You will only sell so much more. 

This is really the key issue isn't it? Most people seem to be okay paying for a fitting from a top fitter, but becoming one takes a lot of study and years of experience, not a lot of people want to invest that time & money to go work for low wages and retail hours. Now offering free fittings at all these expanded locations means you are just diluting the talent pool even further.

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45 minutes ago, cnosil said:

this could and maybe should change?  If manufacturers want to sell more product providing a free demo equipment to shops could be a way to do this.  Obviously lots of other aspects occur like sales incentives from brands and making sales associates staff to create bias.  
 

if we were to change the industry, shops would have access to product.  they would also have access to or staff that were good at the fitting process  and could actually help the customer with product selection and show why a particular club wa s better than another.  Help educate the consumer!  
 

the point of the podcast wasn’t to look at today’s strategy, but what should really be happening in the industry.  There is definitely room in the marketplace. and benefit to both free and paid fittings options.  As said places like CC, TrueSoec, Cool Clubs, TXG would still do higher end more robust fittings and cater to the small percent of the dedicated golfer market and get paid for that in depth service. 
 

 

I understand the goal, I disagree with the premise.  The "for free" just stings because I lived through it.

After working in golf for a dozen years (a member of the PGA in my final 3) I took a burn to them (PGA of America) pushing free lessons while making a paltry wage.  Lesson revenue was a big part of making ends meet and an organization volun-telling us to give free lessons while offering us no true benefits was terrible.

Giving away the technology and skills that set certain retailers apart is bad form because it places the entire acquisition and maintenance costs on that shop.  If one of the large Mfg's were paying to outfit shops with launch monitors, maintaining them and paying to train employees, I would be a little more inclined to listen but we know that wont happen.

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58 minutes ago, cnosil said:

this could and maybe should change?  If manufacturers want to sell more product providing a free demo equipment to shops could be a way to do this.  Obviously lots of other aspects occur like sales incentives from brands and making sales associates staff to create bias.  
 

if we were to change the industry, shops would have access to product.  they would also have access to or staff that were good at the fitting process  and could actually help the customer with product selection and show why a particular club wa s better than another.  Help educate the consumer!  
 

the point of the podcast wasn’t to look at today’s strategy, but what should really be happening in the industry.  There is definitely room in the marketplace. and benefit to both free and paid fittings options.  As said places like CC, TrueSoec, Cool Clubs, TXG would still do higher end more robust fittings and cater to the small percent of the dedicated golfer market and get paid for that in depth service. 
 

 

Are the brands going to eat the cost for the equipment they are providing to all the retail shops? Both the shaft and club companies would need to eat that cost.
 

many people talk about wanting more grip size options in fitting carts because they typically only have standard grip size. Other want more loft and lie options with fitting heads to get a better fit and know what to expect if ordering something that is different from what they tried. 

We know that anyone in business is looking to make a profit so that cost is going to be passed on to the consumer in increased pricing of the clubs, potentially less free upcharge options in shafts. 
 

Nothing is free and the they money has to come from somewhere. Other have touched on the the dilution of competent fitters if they are all going to work for free. 

 

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14 minutes ago, RickyBobby_PR said:

Are the brands going to eat the cost for the equipment they are providing to all the retail shops? Both the shaft and club companies would need to eat that cost.
 

many people talk about wanting more grip size options in fitting carts because they typically only have standard grip size. Other want more loft and lie options with fitting heads to get a better fit and know what to expect if ordering something that is different from what they tried. 

We know that anyone in business is looking to make a profit so that cost is going to be passed on to the consumer in increased pricing of the clubs, potentially less free upcharge options in shafts. 
 

Nothing is free and the they money has to come from somewhere. Other have touched on the the dilution of competent fitters if they are all going to work for free. 

 

Your points are valid in today’s consumer marketplace.  Is it possible to change the model to do something better for the consumer and grow the game of golf?  

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On 11/2/2021 at 3:41 PM, jlukes said:

Love MGS, but it’s foolish and irresponsible to make a blanket statement that all club fittings should be free 

I made it through less than half of the podcast before I had to shut it off. 
 

Kudos to Ryan for trying to explain his point thoughtfully. I wish I could say the same for the MGS side of things 

And a big eye roll to the Free Fitting T-shirt tweet sent out.  Not a good look 

I have not yet listened to the podcast (I will do that) but my initial thought when I saw the headline was "You pay people to do something you can't (or don't want to) do yourself".  If there is a discount offered after the fact if you buy product, then the fitting wasn't "free'.  It's similar to the "No gas, no squeegee" commercial circulating right now.  Why should someone give away their accumulated knowledge for nothing?

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I have not listened to Adam's arguments, but based on the responses, I think I get the gist. Like many, I don't agree that fittings should be free, but I suppose it depends on what you mean by "fitting". Should someone be able to walk into a GG or Dick's, hit a few balls under the supervision of staff and learn some basic specs free of charge? Sure. Assuming these are your typical off-the-rack buyers, why not help them make a more-informed decision? A "real" fitting? I don't see how that can be done for free without the cost associated with the time and people being passed on in some other way (like higher club prices).

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53 minutes ago, cnosil said:

Your points are valid in today’s consumer marketplace.  Is it possible to change the model to do something better for the consumer and grow the game of golf?  

Not for free. The consumer is always going to pay for things in some manner because businesses aren’t going to sacrifice profit especially where profit margins are low. Between rising labor costs for low skilled workers and the ever increasing price for consumer goods the consumer will cover the additional costs.

Even with places currently offering to apply the price of a fitting there’s isn’t a large number of golfers getting fit. 

As mentioned by others how do you convince people to give up their free time especially those with families and other commitments to do free fittings? 
 

I used to do demo days for Srixon/Cleveland for 4 years and even more just helping at demo days at my local range to help the fitter there do what he needed to do for normal business while demo days were going on. I had to stop because there isn’t enough time in a day for all the things I have set as properties.

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45 minutes ago, cnosil said:

..... Is it possible to change the model to do something better for the consumer and grow the game of golf?  

I think that is really where Adam was going with things.  In my opinion, he was talking about what would be the best way to do things for the consumer, not necessarily what would be practical or could be implemented in the short term.  From the perspective of "if we had a perfect golf industry scenario", then I agree with what he says and what he is saying may be possible.  Unfortunately, we don't live in that world.

That said, TXG was also not a very good representative to have this argument with.  I believe they are an outlier in that they are at the very end of the spectrum as far as having some of the best fitters out there and they have a huge multi month wait list to even get in to see them.  There are very few club fitters who check off both of those boxes as is demonstrated by the numerous threads about bad fittings at CC, Truespec, etc.  TXG will probably always exist because they provide a service that almost no one else can match.  Excluding them from the conversation, I could certainly envision a scenario where getting competent fittings at a big retail store could put the local franchise of CC or similar which may be an average fitter at best out of business.  The analogy that comes to mind is TXG is a Rolls Royce where as CC and it's competitors might be a Mercedes and PGASS is a Kia from the 90s.  If you could get retail to be a Volvo, then I think that middle ground of fittings wouldn't need or be able to exist.

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 Isn't there always a big difference between what is good for the consumer and what is good for the seller?

If all things were equal, a consumer would always choose free as his 1st choice.    Conversely, the seller always wants to sell the product and service for the most possible. 

Oh if only time were unlimited and the actual person (Joe Fitter) could just fill his day with more sessions than he might earn what he is worth.   Want to make more?  Do more fittings.  Is that what we are trying to tell them?  No wonder they are hard to come by.   That's like telling a car salesman on a low commission structure: "oh if you want to make more, all you do is have to sell more". 

The business model of TXG is different than the business model of Joe Fitter trying to make a living and feed his family.  For TXG to make more money they need to do more fittings per day/hour/week/month whether they charge upfront for their fittings or not.   But how does Joe Fitter make more? How do free fittings benefit him?  How does not paying Joe Fitter what he is worth benefit the golf industry in the long run?  All the great Joe Fitters go and find better paying jobs and golf becomes a hobby, now there are no great fitters around.  

My parents taught me to value others time and don't expect anything for free.  

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