I’ve not changed my clubs for over 10 years now and have been thinking for a while about whether it’s finally time for a change.
With the never-ending advances in golf equipment technology I am becoming increasingly convinced I am leaving shots out there simply due to my old clubs. (Editor’s note – blame the equipment of course rather than the player!).
So I’ve been doing some research on the costs of new clubs and one of the questions which I keep seeing coming up is whether or not you should get any new clubs custom fitted.
But clubs can be expensive enough as it is, without throwing in any additional costs, so before even starting to consider whether it would make any difference, I surveyed a bunch of places you can get a golf club fitting to find out just how much a golf club fitting costs.
On average it costs between $250 and $600 to get a full bag of golf clubs fitted. Driver only fittings typically cost from $50 to $175 as do ‘irons’ fittings. Wood/Hybrid and wedge custom fittings can be cheaper at $40 to $150 but golf club fitters will often ‘refund’ fitting costs if you buy clubs afterwards.
At individual manufacturer ‘fitting days’ and specific large golf retailers custom fitting fees are sometimes not charged at all but the table below provides a complete breakdown of the golf club fitting costs I noted across a wide variety of fitting venues in the USA and UK.
|Full bag||$250 – $600||£60 – £300|
|Driver||$50 – $175||£30 – £150|
|Fairway Woods / Hybrids||$40 – $150||£30 – £100|
|Irons / Hybrids||$50 – $175||£30 – £175|
|Wedges||$40 – $125||£30 – £85|
|Putter||$40 – $150||£30 – £125|
Like everything in retail however the stated costs of a custom fitting are only half the story. What is classified as a ‘custom fit’ service by one provider may not be exactly the same as another.
Different custom fit specialists also often package up their costs in different bundles.
For example, some can offer a ‘long game’ option which combines a driver, fairway wood and hybrid fitting service together. Or a ‘short game’ option which will cover your wedges and putter.
And while different retailers often offer refund options against any subsequent club purchases do not forget that the ‘custom’ elements you may end up choosing – for example shafts, club heads, grips etc – can have a significant impact on the final cost of your clubs.
It’s Often Not the Cost of the Custom Fitting That’s the Main Cost
If you want to get a custom club fitting done there are 2 broad categories of options and this depends on whether or not you know the brand of club or clubs you want to get custom-fitted.
First, if you know the brand you want to buy you can go directly to that manufacturer’s website and confirm where you can go to get a custom fitting done of their clubs.
All the main manufacturers have custom fitting facilities dotted around any country they operate in. And depending on how serious you are you can often choose between a range of options.
Almost all of them will have a very small number of national performance or fitting centres where you are most likely to find their latest technologies. If you don’t live near any of those though you will be able to attend one of their advanced or standard fitting centres or partners which are more numerous.
All the main manufacturers will also run ‘fitting days’ throughout the year in different parts of the country and there is almost always no fee charged for custom fittings on these days.
The downside of these days is of course that they are on set days and usually during the day so the next and nearest one to you may not be at a time that suits.
Second, and for those golfers however that want to choose from an array of different club manufacturers, it is important that you check first that this is offered by the custom fitter you go to.
Many of the large golfing retailers will offer a variety of different clubs as will some golfing centres and pros.
You should bear in mind though that it is likely only the larger independent specialist custom fitters will carry a number of different options due to the amount of equipment that is required to offer a good selection across a range of different club manufacturers.
The good news however is that a lot of golf club fitters will either offer custom fitting for free or offer a refund of any custom fitting fee against any purchase of new equipment. There can often be conditions attached to these refunds so it is important to check up front.
For example some make the refund dependent on any subsequent club purchase happening within a set time period such as 30 days.
Others will vary the amount of the refund depending on how much you subsequently spend. Some custom fit specialists however will charge the full fee irrespective of how much you spend on clubs afterwards.
And this brings us neatly to the main cost which can often get forgotten when you are looking to get your clubs ‘custom-fitted’ and that is the cost of the fitted clubs themselves.
As a general rule fitted golf clubs are more expensive if you add non-standard components, especially golf shafts. Some specific driver shafts for example can add an additional $200-$300 (£150-£200) onto the standard cost of a driver. And you can easily double the cost of your irons if you go for specialist shafts.
Standard clubs can be costly enough – often many hundreds of $, £ or € – so if you find yourself starting to go through the options of shafts, club heads, grips etc during your custom fitting just bear in mind that these can potentially add significant costs to the final price of whatever you are buying.
Some ‘custom’ touches though are not so expensive and can make your clubs feel that extra bit special. Mizuno, for example, offers a personalised stamping on your wedges to give them that extra custom look.
In some custom fitters however you may find yourself feeling under pressure after going through the fitting process to spend a lot of money.
In general, though good fitters will check your budget upfront so as to make sure you both start off the right foot and don’t end up looking at options, particularly expensive shaft upgrades, that will be way out of your price range.
[Note – if you want to know the best places to get fitted for golf clubs check out our full guide, complete with a searchable list of all the top fitters across the USA, Canada and the UK, here.]
Make Sure The Cost of a Golf Club Fitting Includes the Full Process
When you pay for a ‘custom fitting’ service it is important to be clear what it should include.
Different manufacturers may offer different types of proprietary technology which they will use in their fittings – PING’s putter fitting software for example – but in general, a proper custom golf club fitting requires tools, a fitting studio and a trained professional.
The key to the whole golf club fitting process is the launch monitor, where the numbers do not lie.
It should also approximately follow a process similar to this:
- Interview – a custom fitting will typically begin with an interview to firstly determine your individual goal. Do you want to hit the ball higher or lower for example? Or do you simply want to get the same clubs as your favourite player? The fitter will then move on to how you are performing with your current clubs – how far do you hit them? Are you more likely to hit your bad shots left or right? And finally, are there any physical limitations that affect your swing or ability to play? All your answers to these questions will help the fitter plan the rest of the fitting process and help them choose the clubs that best address your problems and goals within your budget.
- Static measurements – Next you should be measured from head to toe. A custom fitter will measure your height and wrist to floor distance to help them determine a starting point for the length, lie angle and shaft of your clubs. Measurements of your hand length and longest finger length meanwhile will inform your grip size which affects your tendency to miss your shots right or left.
- Dynamic fitting using technology – while the specific technology can vary good custom fitters will use data from the tools they use to profile your swing and ball striking to help them find the right specification of clubs for you. Key to this process will be the launch monitor – Trackman is very commonly used – the data from which will tell the custom fitter a huge amount about your game. Other tools fitters can use include lie boards and proprietary manufacturer tools such as Mizuno’s shaft optimiser for example. Using the data provided by these tools, together with their own observations, the fitter will start working with you through the options – club lengths, lie angles, club heads, shafts, grips etc – testing and re-testing all the way through which of them gives you the best opportunity to hit the ball with good club head speed in the centre of the face consistently and achieve your goals.
- Final recommendation – At the end of all that the custom fitter will then be able to give you a final recommendation which club or clubs they think suit you best. If you’ve participated throughout the process and communicated together well this is something that typically you will have come to an agreement on as the fitting progresses to its conclusion.
A fitting for one club or category of clubs (e.g. driver, fairway woods, wedges) will typically take between 45 minutes to 1 hour while a full bag fitting can take up to 3.5 hours so there can be a lot to take in.
All that data can be overwhelming to try and make sense of there and then in the session.
So if you prefer to reflect on things ask the fitter to print off and email the data to you to give you a chance to sift through everything later on in slower time.
This can sometimes help you compare what felt like the best swings to the actual results and make the best ultimate decision on what to buy.
Whatever clubs you end up choosing (or not choosing!) if your ‘custom fitting’ session doesn’t follow this sort of process you would be best to look elsewhere. Beware if you are simply told to hit a few shots off a plastic lie board and choose from whatever clubs are in the shop at the time!
[Note – If you want to know how long a golf club fitting should take and exactly what should happen as part of the process check out our article here.]
Is it Worth it Getting Fitted for Golf Clubs?
And so we get down to the final and probably main question.
Are the costs – and don’t forget the time and effort – of getting your golf clubs custom fitted worth it or are you going to be just fine with off the shelf clubs?
On this one golfers seem to be split down the middle.
For every player that swears it helped them knock a couple of shots off their handicap you will find another who says it is a waste of time and money. Some just don’t believe it will make a difference in how well they play and how much they enjoy their new clubs.
As a general rule getting fitted for golf clubs is worth it if you play golf regularly and are serious about improving. Custom fitted clubs can benefit every standard of player as they increase the chances of hitting the ball out of the centre of the clubface and therefore minimize how short and offline mishits go.
Looking at it logically custom fitting makes sense on a basic level. Surely clubs that are measured and built to suit your individual swing would be better than those that don’t?
Also, all the professionals you are watching on the TV are almost certainly fitted carefully for their clubs. So if the best players do it, copying what they do would again seem to make sense.
Unfortunately, neither of these points proves by themselves a custom fitting is necessary or that it will always be successful for all players. A custom fitting will not cure a swing fault for example.
The best way to look at it therefore is simply to base your decision on how seriously you take your golf and how important improved performance is to you.
If you are desperate to get better and are prepared to spend the time and money getting measured from every angle with lasers as you hit lots of balls testing a variety of different clubs with different shafts, club heads etc then custom fitting is a good option to get the best possible set for your game.
If your answer is you are not that bothered about your golf game “if it means I’m going to have to spend a bit of extra money” then it is less likely is an option for you.
The additional cost for custom clubs does not make sense for everyone so it is worth considering how important improving your game is to you and how much you will use your clubs. Clearly the more you play the more value you will get from them.
Another approach to custom fitting for those that are not sure about the benefits would be to simply try it for one club or a subset of your clubs.
If your long game is where are struggling for example see if a custom fitted driver will make a difference. If it does then you have something to base your decision on to get it done for more clubs.
Or simply keep an eye out for the next free ‘fitting day’ at your local club or driving range and go and test the process out. Fitting days are often undersubscribed as they are typically during the week.
As Bobby Jones once said – “Golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half inch course … the space between your ears” – so if you think custom fitted clubs will give you more confidence when you hit the ball then they may be worth a try.
Cynics will argue that it is simply a new way for golf club manufacturers to sell more clubs, and more expensive clubs at that, to the masses but if you want to get better and believe it will help you what’s the problem?
Custom fitted golf clubs are potentially for everyone. Some argue in fact that it is more important for less-skilled golfers who have less of an ability to make the necessary compensations for poorly fitted clubs. So it is arguable that is more important for the average golfer to get custom fitted clubs.
One key thing to remember though is custom fitting is definitely not a cure to all your games problems. There is a place for it but the gains some golfers make from it can be far bigger than others.
Custom fitting is lower down the list of things that will help to improve your game. And each individual will have their own price for the benefits that custom fitting can provide.
If it doesn’t seem worth the money and time for you the best default option as it is always is simply to hit the practice fairway and keep hitting more balls!
More top articles related to this post:
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- Can You Get Your Existing Golf Clubs Custom Fitted? Complexity = Cost
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