Why are women golfers so reticent to get custom fit? It's time for a change
I learnt how to run in a pair of school plimsolls, now I work out on cross trainers.
I learnt to drive in a vintage Mini, now I have 1.6 litres under my bonnet.
I learnt how to play golf with a standard set of off-the-peg ladies clubs…
I’m still hitting them.
They’ve earned their keep and I’ve come down from a handicap of 36 to 17 in five years. So I should be loyal to them, right?
My scorecard tells me that my swing and course management has changed significantly during my short golf career but my hardware hasn’t.
According to the latest research from Golf Datatech in the USA, 68% of “serious golfers” have been fitted for the clubs they use. Their evidence suggests that figure is much, much lower for female golfers.
Alex Thorne, who works with tour players with Mizuno at their Performance Centre at my club, Bearwood Lakes, says he knows of women pros that have not been personally fitted for the magic wands with which they earn their living.
Why is it that we get measured for everything from bras to trainers and yet can be so reticent to be fitted to play better golf?
And, when we do make the decision to take the plunge and get fitted, do we need to find someone who can measure us for a set of ladies clubs?
“Our shaft optimiser doesn’t know whether you are male or female,” Alex tells me, which reminded me of an excellent blog by Lady Golfer’s equipment expert Hannah Holden.
“It doesn’t know whether you’re a beginner or a tour professional. It simply records each individual’s unique swing DNA. We don’t see any good reason to differentiate between men’s and women’s clubs.
“We simply look at what spec is best for that particular individual and put those clubs in your bag. Fitted clubs are tailored to the individual’s needs and tastes, not to some default image of what they might like.”
If you are anything like me, your default defence might be that you simply don’t feel good enough for a set of clubs fashioned to your personal characteristics.
Since I got hooked on golf, I have been quietly promising myself a fitting once I got down to a handicap of 15.
Is there a possibility that the very thing that is stopping me from trimming off those last two shots are the outdated off-the-peg sticks I’m still swinging at the ball?
This is golf. There never is a right answer.
In this age of 400-yard drives and 125-mile-an-hour clubhead speeds, everyone is agreed that advances in golf equipment technology are fuelling the ballistic arms race that the leading players are treating us to.
There is no good reason why the appliance of some of this science can’t benefit me.
To be honest, I have never been turned on by the technology of a golf swing. Apex heights and shaft kick angles just don’t do it for me. Subjecting my relatively gentle swing to the 3D analysis of flight scopes and launch monitors seems rather OTT.
Perhaps an investment in fitted clubs can be the difference that helps you achieve the golf you aspire to without blistering the palms of your hands on the range.
You don’t need 20/20 vision before you go to the opticians to get tested for reading glasses. Quite the opposite. The spectacle lens is fitted to aid failing sight.
And so, it must be with golf clubs.
Whether you’re a tour player like Eddie Pepperell or an enthusiastic mid-handicapper like me, it is only logical that golf equipment garnered specifically to your swing and body is going to improve your chances of hitting it out of the middle.
So, why haven’t I been fitted? Well, simply because I’ve only just met Alex.
I name drop Eddie because we very occasionally share the same golf range.
Oliver Fisher, the first player to shoot 59 on the European Tour, is a Bearwood Lakes member and a Mizuno staff player.
And, guess what? He’s got fitted clubs.
So, I am going to take the fitted plunge and, seeing as Alex is based at my club, he’s going to take me through the process every yard of the way.
I am going in where too many women seem to be fearful of treading.
It’s time to measure my torque and every other detail from takeaway to ball connection and blog about it in detail. We are worth it.
So, is there a charge for custom fittings?
“Our basic custom fitting service is free. Some of our fitting accounts may charge a nominal fee for the booking but that is often reimbursed with the purchase of the clubs,” Alex explains.
There are no absolutely sure-fire investments in golf. If I had got back from this bewitching game everything that I’ve put into it, I’m sure I would be an Open champion by now.
I strive to better my golf because it betters me and the unique pleasure I take from playing the sport.
In business, I am constantly monitoring trends and innovations in search of an edge that will keep me competitive. In golf, I’m still using the equivalent of a typewriter and a fax machine.
Perhaps Mizuno’s fitting team cannot guarantee me a hole-in-one before I hang up their clubs but they can give me the right tools to keep trying with.
OK, let’s do this. Wish me luck and please do follow my custom fitting journey on Lady Golfer.