Every 2-3 years, Golf Datatech investigates and analyzes the ups and downs and ins and outs of the custom fitting world. We primarily focus on golf clubs, but also address insights into the appetite of golfers for ball fitting.
As we release the new 2023 study, we are diving deep into how the category continues to evolve, even though the overall golf club business has declined from pandemic induced all-time highs, custom fitting of clubs remains vibrant and growing.
To summarize, golfers continue to have very positive opinions of the outcome of their fittings with consumer satisfaction near all-time highs, and fitting leading to well over half of all golf iron set and driver sales.
Is Golf Club Fitting an Art or a Science?
Effective club fitting is a little of both. Technological improvements and improved data insights certainly changed the landscape and created a new opportunity for club fitters to offer new, often highly specialized, exotic shafts to the masses. But, at the same time, having a knowledgeable and personable fitter guide the golfer thru the process helps create an upbeat and welcoming environment, and elevates one fitting over another.
On the side of Science and Engineering
Over a decade ago, the science of fitting advanced substantially due to more cost-effective and accurate Launch Monitors: equipment that captured highly specific, accurate club path and ball data.
While Monitors are considered essential to a great custom fit today, it wasn’t that long ago when these devices were too expensive and/or lacked the consistency and accuracy that fitters needed to give their customer confidence in the process or the results. As the monitors improved, fewer shots were “missed”, and more data points were collected. At the same time, the graphics/data capture improved significantly which made it easier for the golfer to understand the results of their swings.
Equally important, but often overlooked, was the creation of easy-to-use club head/shaft connectors, which became commonplace about the same time as launch monitors were being broadly adopted by the club fitting community. These connectors make the fitting process significantly quicker, easier, and more effective than static glued systems which were the most used system years ago. With the proper tool in hand, an experienced fitter can now change shafts or heads with a few twists of the wrench, making the fitting process less complicated, more straightforward, and allows for testing more potential shaft options.
Suddenly, fitters had the ability to offer a multitude of component options that never would have made it into the fitting process prior to the connector/adapter. As way of example, those who have been fit for new clubs in 2023 tried an average of four different shafts in their most recent fitting – one more shaft than they were trying just a few years ago.
It’s true that many of the components used during fittings today are often significantly more expensive than their stock counterparts. However, it’s also the case that they do improve and optimize performance. Ultimately, however, it all comes down to dollars and cents. Is it worth the extra $300-$500 per driver to pick up 5-10 yards off the tee?
At this moment in time, many golfers believe it is.
The Human Touch
Even though custom fitting has become more of a data driven exercise, the importance of being led thru the process by an experienced, knowledgeable fitter continues to be the single most important factor when considering a fitting appointment. Because the fitter is like a golfer’s own personal sherpa – leading and supporting them through the fitting process – golfers understand that they need to have someone they can trust doing the fitting.
As such, while the technical data is important, knowing how to manage the process, making sure the golfer understands what the information means and how it applies to their own swing/game, is even more crucial than the data. Because every quality fitter is using some form of launch monitor, which is capturing and spitting out data that helps refine the fitting, it’s the human touch that elevates one operation over another.
When respondents to the 2023 Study of Custom Fitting were asked what is most important to them when selecting a location for a fitting, having an experienced and knowledgeable fitter was most important by a 3 to 1 margin. The Fitter, the Sherpa, the Guide, the Shepard, no matter how you characterize your fitter, they’re crucial to having a good experience.
Just like every other phase of the golf retail, providing a top quality fitting to the customer is not just having the proper equipment or inventory available, it’s about creating a satisfying and rewarding experience, and the fitter themselves is a large part of perceptions of the encounter.
To purchase the 2023 Evolution of Custom Fitting Study please visit this page