Madeleine Winnett: There's more to custom fitting than I thought
I don’t like sales people. I do like people who are passionate about what they do – and with the husband-and-wife combination of Gene Fulton and Anita Marquina, that is what you get in abundance.
Split between the two sites of Newark and Leicester, Anita primarily looks after the extensive range of ladies’ clothing (and the vagaries of fit/sizing) while Gene concentrates on club fitting, something which he has done for 38 years, and for both the men’s and ladies’ tours.
When I first rang Gene, he said he would fit me in exactly the same way as he would a tour player, which made me feel very smug until I arrived and he announced that he fits everybody as if they were a tour pro!
One LET pro had just flown in from Switzerland to have her clubs tweaked, but while I was there, a 36-handicap lady had a fitting, followed by a girl with one of those really annoying flexible backs that enabled her to hit it miles, and they were both treated to the same attention to detail as I had been.
Gene is passionate about helping players of all ability to improve, but he is also mindful about budget. Hence he has four pricing tiers – budget, middle, top and executive – to enable him to marry up aspirations with realisations.
I have previously been fitted for clubs, but only by specific manufacturers. While they have been good, and definitely better than just buying a set off the shelf, clearly options within one make are limited.
Therefore, at Corporate Golf Company, Gene is more geared towards the customer than the manufacturer. One of the most important parts of the club is the shaft.
Assuming that few ladies will use stiff or extra stiff, that invariably leaves a fundamental choice of around three shafts. Gene, on the other hand, carries around 80 sets of iron shafts on his tour truck, which goes up to a mind boggling 3,000 when you include woods!
A seemingly simple regular shaft, for example, comes in three or four different weights. Having so many choices enables you to achieve the best possible match for your swing – something which becomes even more accurate after applying a variable gauge onto the shaft which determines exactly where your individual kick point is.
Gene doesn’t class it as part of his job to try and change a swing, but to fit according to a swing. He has even been known to change the shafts for a pro during the Women’s British Open to suit the wet and windy conditions.
Statistics don’t lie, so if you are going to be spending several hundred pounds on a new set of clubs, you want to be sure you can hit them better than your current ones. Therefore, fittings begin by laying down the data from hitting half a dozen shots with your own irons.
Heads also vary in weight and, again, there are a wide number of choices available. Statistics are important, but so is personal feel.
Contrary to the current popular trend of going lighter and lighter to increase club head speed, I like to feel some weight in the head. That seems to enable me to time everything better, and so it proved when my figures improved as Gene slotted on a different head.
Grips are another important component, and here again, there’s a mind-boggling choice. I somewhat flippantly commented on counting 63 different Golf Pride grips alone, which Gene immediately countered by saying he had another 20 on the truck.
The truck tour was fascinating, seeing drawer after drawer filled with shafts, heads and grips labelled for the most famous names in golf, including a sneak preview of Lydia Ko’s next putter grip.
I inadvertently passed comment to say that I liked the feel of one grip only to be told that it would only last about three months – another important consideration when matching people to products and budgets.
Gene charges £70 for a club fitting session, (typically an hour) but having an expert opinion guarantees the best value for money because clubs cost too much money to waste on something that isn’t right for you. The charge is also redeemable against new clubs.
I cannot wait for my new set of Mizunos to arrive now. And once the new Williams drivers come out, I will have absolutely no hesitation in pointing my car down the M1 again!
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