Evolution of Custom Fitting for Golf Equipment in the United States

No category of the golf equipment industry has changed as dramatically over the past three decades as golf club custom fitting.  This 2021 Study not only framed the current environment for custom fitting, but also put it into the proper historic context.

In the “dark ages” of club fitting, static fitting and measurements were the standard for creating clubs that “fit” the individual’s physical stature, but of course a purely static measurement doesn’t take into account the unique swing characteristics of each individual golfer.

“Dynamic fitting” later became the norm (actual swings with the club), utilizing “hi-tech” devices like masking tape and pieces of plywood for lie, along with face tape to indicate the strike pattern.  Dynamic fitting was a big step forward in actually engaging the golfer in a golfing motion with a club in their hands. However, it remained primarily a qualitative exercise, lacking in hard data, adding a little bit of science with a lot of black magic.  And while an accomplished club fitter could execute the process more effectively than buying clubs “off the rack”, it required too much interpretation and personal skill by the fitter to make it a universally accurate method.

Early computer simulators allowed custom fitting to move from being a purely manual interpretation into a more scientific exercise, where some basic measurements like ball speed and spin rate were taken into consideration to help guide the fitter.  Not enough data was available at the time for precise fittings, and the accuracy and consistency of the measurements were less than ideal, however, this was the first major step toward the quantitative and qualitative fitting of golf clubs.

Accurate and more affordable launch monitors completely changed the equation and the process of club fitting.  Even though they were very expensive in their early days and only the most wealthy and tour pros could take advantage, this high-tech equipment significantly improved the accuracy of fittings.  Early versions of some of the most popular launch monitors cost well over $100,000 each, but over time and through technological improvements, today a good monitor can be in the hands of a qualified fitter for $20,000 or less (some as low as $5,000).  And the process of custom fitting a club to the specific swing characteristics of the player have advanced to the point where consistent, excellent fittings have become the norm.

2021 Custom Fitting Experience
Insights & Questions 

  • What type of facility did their last custom fitting take place and how satisfied were they with the experience? Online? Golf Course pro? Retail Store fitting? Specialized custom club fitter?
  • What custom fitting methods have serious golfers experienced?
  • What type of technologies would they like to experience?
  • What golf equipment products were they fitted for in the past year?
  • Was the information they received from the fitting easy to understand and valuable?
  • Were they charged for their custom fitting? How much? Was the cost worth it?  How long did the session last?
  • Are serious golfers aware of Virtual/Online custom fitting? What are the opinions of Virtual/Online fitting?  Which brands are perceived as having the best Virtual/Online fitting?
  • Where do golfers seek information about custom fitting?
  • Have they ever been fit for irons, drivers, putters?
  • What brands were used for their last fittings?
  • How much are they willing to pay for a custom fitting session?
  • How much extra are they willing to pay for a set of custom fit irons?
  • Are launch monitors or computer analysis an important part of the fitting process?
  • Have serious golfers ever had their custom built clubs “Pured” during the manufacturing process?
    If so, how much were they charged? Do they think it helped their clubs performance?
  • How many custom fit irons, driver or putters were ever purchased and how much did they pay?
  • Were stock shafts or special order shafts purchased with custom fit irons and drivers?
  • How important is the ability to select the exact shaft they prefer in new irons and drivers?
  • How much more are they willing to pay for after-market shafts in custom fit irons and drivers?
  • What one shaft brand is preferred for irons? For Drivers?

Objectives of the 2021 Custom Fitting Study

The 2021 Custom Fitting Study expands and builds upon prior studies of the category conducted in 2001, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2018.  The study is designed to provide a framework for understanding the evolution of golf equipment custom fitting for irons, drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, and wedges.  Including information on shafts and in 2021 grips.

Methodology of Study

Utilizing the Golf Datatech database of serious golfers, an online survey was conducted to gain a minimum of 1,000 serious golfers who have been custom fit at least once in their golfing life…many of them multiple times.

All respondents who completed the survey were entered into a random drawing for premium golf equipment.

Timing: Report Now Available

 Cost: $6,000

To purchase or to learn more click here.