The fact that any golfer is asking a question about how often they should get fitted for clubs is a great sign.
And that’s simply because it shows that they have accepted that a golf club fitting can make a difference to their game and so the query is about how many times you should get fitted rather than whether you should or not.
Because every golfer should at some point in their golfing career get fitted for clubs. But what about after that? Is once enough or is there a magic number of times you need to get fitted for clubs?
Regular golfers should get fitted for clubs every 5 years. Wedges & forged irons need checked every 2 years due to extra wear & tear but fitted putters last a lifetime. Drivers are worth checking with fitters every 5 years for better options but gains vs. costs need to be assessed at each fitting.
Such general rules of thumb mean of course that some players should get fitted more often while others will be fine with the clubs they already have for a much longer period.
So to help you assess your own clubs and best judge how often you should go for a club fitting to check your current set up we’ll now look in detail at the 3 key tests which you can use to decide.
Different Clubs Can Need More Regular Fittings
A club fitting can make a difference to a golfer playing the wrong set of clubs for them almost straight away.
Playing with clubs which for example have the wrong shaft, lie angle or weight for your swing and body can seriously hamper how far and how accurately you hit the ball.
Get such things corrected at a club fitting given by a qualified specialist and you are very likely to see a noticeable difference straight away.
Indeed, GolfTec, a regular on Golf Digest’s list of America’s Top 100 Best Clubfitters, have found the following average improvements in ball speed, distance and dispersion (i.e. accuracy) from their customers after one of their fittings:
- Ball speed – 3.9 mph faster with Driver, 6.8 mph faster with irons
- Distance – 20.6 yards farther with Driver, 17 yards farther with irons
- Direction – 7.9 yards straighter with Driver, 4.2 yards straighter with irons.
That’s some pretty decent improvements they are finding following a club fitting and the even better news is club fitters are finding improvements for all standards of player.
The benefits of a club fitting are not just confined to better players and you definitely do not need to reach a certain standard before you can make some gains from a club fitting.
Now some players will obviously gain more than others based on the degree to which their current clubs are already suited to them or not but the benefits of getting fitted are now well established.
So following on from that it surely makes sense that you should be getting fitted pretty regularly for clubs to help you consistently realise these sort of average gains.
If only golf was that simple!
As those of us who have played golf for any length time know only too well the game of golf is a highly complex beast and there is no magic ingredient, including club fitting, which we can all add into the mix and which will guarantee we are always hitting the ball further and straighter and as a result scoring better.
Also, and we’ll come on to this in more detail later, there’s a small matter of money to think about when it comes to golf club fitting and the new clubs which can sometimes result.
So how do you go about assessing how often you should get fitted?
To let you answer this question here are 3 key factors you need to consider:
- Club type – The considerations for drivers & woods, irons, wedges and putters are all different so breaking your golf bag down into the main club types will help your decision making.
- Club performance – Are your regular playing partners starting to outdrive when they didn’t before? Have you started hitting the ball much lower than you used to? Are you taking shallow divots with your irons but huge big fat ones with your wedges? Changes in how you typically compare to those you play with or very different shot results with different clubs are good indicators its worth getting them checked again.
- Club wear and tear – Golf clubs are incredibly resilient and well made but elements of them can break down gradually and more quickly if you play a lot. The grooves of your wedges dull over time for example and so if you’ve started finding your wedge shots have less zip on them than normal that can be a sign it’s worth getting them checked out at a fitting. Forged irons also are more susceptible to wear and tear than their cast iron counterparts so again if you start to find they are not flying as they used to that’s another sign of the possible need for another fitting.
Now evidence of you hitting the ball less well than you used to can of course, and is often most likely, to be the result of you simply not playing as well as you did previously.
As we’ve already mentioned club fitting is not the answer to all of your golfing problems and simple lack of form or the development of a swing fault are most often to blame for a change in driving distance, ball speed, iron accuracy or wedge shot sharpness.
But if you keep in mind these 3 key factors when assessing your current clubs you will have a pretty clear idea how often different clubs in your bag need assessed by your golf club fitter.
**[Note – If you are looking for a good club fitter check out our article on where the best place to get fitted for clubs is where we assess all the different options available to you and provide a detailed list of the best fitters in the USA, Canada and the UK]**
Wear & Tear can Indicate Another Fitting is Needed
Probably the easiest factor to assess whether you need to head back to the club fitter again is wear and tear.
If you’ve had already had a putter fitting – and if you haven’t I would thorough recommend getting one – then unless you are taking very bad care of it, or you are just one of those golfers who always likes changing their putter, there’s not a very high probability that your putter is going to break down to such a degree you need to get fitted for a new one.
Assuming your putter is right for you any putting problems you currently have are unfortunately most likely to be due to a poor stroke or your reading of the greens or both.
“I believe you get fit when you feel like you are not getting the most out of your equipment. If that’s a year, then yes, get fit, but more likely it’s going to be every three or five years. Sometimes, even though you don’t feel you are getting everything from your clubs, you truly are and at least the fitting will confirm that. That gives you the confidence, that you are playing the very best.”Nick Sherburne, founder of Club Champion, regular Golf Digest Top 100 club fitter
Wedges by comparison, and particularly the grooves wear much more quickly and this will be even more evident if you are playing regularly.
And that makes perfect sense given how versatile wedges are and the number of shots they can be used for from all sorts of places on the golf course.
If you find yourself stuck on a stone path or against a tree root more often than not it will be your wedge that’s chosen to get you out of trouble and hitting such shots can clearly cause increased wear and tear as does consistent play from bunkers.
Indeed the Titleist Vokey Research & Development team have discovered that a new wedge will launch lower, have less than half the roll out and can generate up to 2000 RPM more than a wedge which has been played with over 125 rounds.
So when it comes to your wedges the average 5 year guide for getting your clubs checked with an experienced club fitter should potentially to reduced to every 2 or 3 years depending on how much you are playing and how well you are looking after your most used clubs.
Iron grooves too are also subject to wear and tear like wedges but over a longer period of time due simply to the fact they are used less and typically in less damaging situations compared to wedges.
If you have forged irons though these are probably worth looking at more closely a bit more often. Because forged irons are made by taking a soft piece of steel and beating it into shape they are more prone to wear and tear than cast irons.
Indeed pros and club fitters have mentioned that they frequently find forged irons having lofts changed by 1 or even 2 clubs and lies altered between 2 to 3 degrees over a couple of years.
So getting the lies and lofts of your forged irons checked every 2 or 3 years rather than 5 is probably a good idea.
When it comes to the big clubs in the bag – the driver, fairway woods and hybrids – wear and tear again isn’t likely to be an issue unless you are constantly smashing them on the ground or against trees after hitting some bad shots.
Having a nice long sock headcover to protect any expensive shaft you’ve got on any of them is another good idea if you don’t want them to get damaged.
When it comes to those big clubs in the bag though the reason to get checked any earlier than the 5 year rule of thumb is more likely to be because of a performance factor rather than wear and tear.
Age Is Not the Main Driver of the Number of Club Fittings
Golfers as a breed can be a pretty bad bunch when it comes to blaming their equipment for their troubles on the golf course.
Watching the pros on the TV smash the latest model of driver 350 yards into the distance can often prompt us lowly amateurs to take a look at our own clubs and think that part of the difference between us and what we’re watching must be something to do with the age of our clubs.
Surely all that research and development constantly being done at all the big golf club manufacturers is bound to make a difference otherwise the pros wouldn’t always be trying to take advantage of it?
Yes, the pros are indeed always using the latest equipment but they doing so to try and find those ‘extra’ fine margins which will make a difference at the very highest level of the game.
Unfortunately for the rest of us regular players the big gains are not being achieved simply because we have clubs which are an edition or two behind the latest model.
Golf clubs are incredibly resilient and there is no evidence to suggest that clubs weaken over time and need to be replaced simply by virtue of their age. A well looked after golf club will last a lifetime and hit correctly near the middle of the club face will do pretty much what they always did.
Paul Wood, the VP of Engineering of Ping Golf, puts it this way – “The basic construction of the metal head and metal or carbon fibre shaft is tested …. at forces higher than most golfers can achieve and for thousands of impacts to make sure that unless there is some manufacturing defect the club itself will last longer than the golfer swinging it.”
Given also the half-life of titanium which is used in a large number of irons made is about 60 years there seems little chance you’re going to need to head off to the club fitter because your irons are so old they have gone dead or about to break apart in your hands.
This assumes of course that you’re not leaving your clubs outside all night for months on end!
The ‘performance’ of your set of clubs is however a different consideration and one which can help you decide whether it’s time to head back to the club fitter for another look.
Have for example your regular playing partners started outdriving you all the time when you used to be standing alongside them for your second shots. Or are they now seeming to hit one or two less clubs into par 3’s when you used to play the same.
Now that could simply be because they’ve gone for lofts in their irons which no longer correspond to the number they used to. Manufacturers have been strengthening the lofts in all their irons for years now so whatever the number says on the bottom of the club the loft may be different from set to set.
But if all things are the same as they used to be it’s potentially an indication that another trip to the club fitter could help especially if it’s been 5 years or so since you last went.
“What many people forget when thinking about improvements in golf equipment is that they’re not always in-your-face enhancements. Meaningful benefits to golfers can be had through better manufacturing processes or the use of materials …. Further, it’s not just about performance on the center hit. Sure, we all love to crush one and see extra yards pop up on the launch monitor, but tremendous improvement has been made on off-center hits as well – and isn’t that where we hit it most of the time?”E. Michael Johnson, Golf Digest equipment editor
If you’ve never gone through your full set of clubs with the club fittings you’ve done to date how individual clubs perform can provide evidence that it’s time to get the clubs you’ve not yet taken to the club fitter to get checked.
For example if there’s one club where the ball flight is entirely different from the rest of your bag that can be an indication it’s not the best fit for you compared to the others which are.
When it comes wedges we’ve already talked about how the grooves can dull over time and start to generate less spin and zip as a result but your divot patterns with your wedges are also a good way to assess whether another trip to the fitter looks like it would be a good idea.
Hit the ball fat or heavy with a big deep divot and that’s a sign that a wedge with a wider sole and bounce sole would be better. Thin or scull your wedge shots from the fairway by comparison and it’s more likely you need less bounce.
So if your divot patterns are different for different wedges that is a performance sign that a fitting could again help out.
As we are therefore consistently seeing the parameters for whether another golf club fitting is indicated varies according to which club type we are looking at and how it’s performing rather than purely how old it is.
The 5-year rule of thumb is a good starting point but if you keep an eye out for the ‘wear and tear’ and ‘performance’ issues we’ve discussed you should start to get a better feel for whether another fitting for specific clubs is overdue or can wait a while yet.
“Can driver faces weaken over time? We’re just starting to figure that out because there is evidence that is happening with the pros, but almost no study as to what’s happening with use by us regular Joe’s.”Golf Digest
Lots of Golf Club Fittings Could be Costly
I’m a fan of golf club fittings and am definitely convinced they can make a difference to everyone’s game but I also think alot of golf advice these days comes without a lot of thought to the cost for regular players.
It’s all very well for specialist golf club fitters to tell everyone they should be getting their clubs fitted regularly but with a full bag fitting costing hundreds of dollars or pounds that ideal is clearly an expensive business.
And that’s before you’ve even got to the cost of the custom clubs which may follow. Some driver shafts these days for example can easily add an additional $200-300 onto the standard cost of a standard driver which is itself already a few hundred bucks or pounds.
Comparing how much the benefits a club fitting gives you vs. how much it all costs is clearly a personal decision and is different for everyone.
And golf is undoubtedly one of the most expensive sports already without adding a number of golf club fittings over a sustained period to the mix.
So the guide of getting a club fitting at least every 5 years clearly comes with the caveat of assessing how much that’s going to cost and how much you are willing to invest in your game.
If you don’t play that often and your enjoyment of the game is tied much more to getting out now and again with your friends or family rather than on how well you are playing each time don’t worry about how often you’re getting fitted.
If by comparison you are determined to get better, play regularly and are willing to invest your money as well as your time a check in with your club fitter every few years can definitely help you.
And there are things you can do to help keep costs down. For example keep an eye on things yourself as much as you can. Make sure you keep a note of the ‘baseline’ numbers from your first fitting and continue to compare yourself to those any time you go back.
That makes it much easier to then decide whether any further investment is necessary.
If the latest driver you are trying out at the fitters is only giving you an extra 2-3mph of ball speed and 5 yards of distance is that really worth the investment of a few hundred bucks to achieve?
Further if there’s a free demo day rolling into your area or club given by one of the big manufacturers you can take advantage of that to get your lofts and lie angles checked or try out their latest clubs.
And last but not least don’t forget that not every golf club fitting inevitably ends up in you being recommended to buy a new club or set of clubs.
Good custom fitters are focused on you getting better and getting the most out of your clubs. Their sole focus is not to try and flog you as much new kit as possible at the highest possible margin.
If they test your clubs with you and can’t find anything else that will give you any better numbers they will tell you.
And that can either be a great confidence boost if you’re currently playing well or at least an indication that the answer to your current problems lies through more practice on the range rather than through a new set of fitted clubs.
[Note – For a complete review of how much a golf club fitting costs, including how it breaks down and Check out our article on how much golf club fittings cost, how it breaks down and how you can look to reduce costs here.]
Whatever you are told don’t forget a club fitting, even one or five of them costing hundreds of dollars with the best club fitter in the country can only make so much of a difference to your game.
There is a limit to the gains they can bring your game and there is no fitted club in the world that is going to cure your slice or hook.
They can benefit your game for sure but if you’re aware of the extent to which they can help you improve you’re more likely to make the best decision for your own game and bank balance when considering how often you should get fitted.
Other great articles related to this topic:
- How Much Does a Golf Club Fitting Cost? Is it Worth it?
- Should High Handicappers Get Fitted Clubs? The Benefits Apply to All
- Can You Get Your Existing Golf Clubs Custom Fitted? Complexity = Cost
- Is a Putter Fitting Worth it? It Removes a Variable or Three
- Should I Get Fitted for Golf Clubs Before Lessons? Get Both Together
- Best Places to Get Fitted for Golf Clubs – A Complete Guide
- Should a Beginner Get Golfer Fitted for Clubs? Focus On Enjoyment
- How Long Should a Club Fitting Take? Take Your Time!