Ping Custom Fit: My game improvements are in the details
My handicap has plateaued in recent years with a lack of playing and it hasn’t helped that I’ve still been tinkering with equipment.
This invite to Ping’s Gainsborough HQ came at the perfect time to give me confidence my equipment is working for me and get me back in the mood to make serious progress with my game.
I’d been for a Ping iron fitting before – back in 2005 for their G5 range. But I was playing off 28 so it would be fair to say I was getting my first set of ‘new’ irons and didn’t really understand all that was going into it. I just hit my shots, the fitter made recommendations and I said yes. Job done.
This resulted in G5 irons from 5-SW, blue dot (at the time 1 degree upright), graphite TFC shafts and aqua grips.
This time I was completely prepared for all that is involved. I have a better understanding of my game and where I think tweaks in my equipment can help without me making drastic swing changes.
My only apprehension about the fitting was my lack of ‘swing time’ over the last few months – 2016 was a bit of a golf-free zone containing only three rounds of golf. And two of those were on the same day.
The thought of being very rusty and playing shots in front of fitters was one concern (there was no need for me to be worried) and the other was that my rustiness would cause a poor fitting (as it turned out I was pleasantly surprised with my play).
I was looking forward to getting some advice on my gapping: especially whether driver or 3 wood is better from the tee and finding out if recently switching my trusty G5 7 wood to a hybrid was the right decision.
Ball flight is always something I hope to get advice on. I hit the ball high, which looks good to most people. But I think it’s too high and if I could lower it for a more penetrating ball flight, wouldn’t that get me a few more yards?And that’s what everyone wants, right?
In we went and met our cheery and knowledgeable fitter for the afternoon, Paul Rymer. Instantly I felt completely at ease with his relaxed nature. I suddenly wasn’t nervous about loosening up with a few thins and tops.
All fittings at Ping follow the same process no matter what standard you are.
Ping custom fit steps
1. Question time
Some simple questions help to gather a picture about my game, current set make-up and what I’m looking for. My height, handicap, club played from 150 yards, general shot shape and bad shot shape were submitted. (5’8”, 11, 7 iron in the summer, generally straight and baby fade).
2. My current set
We discuss my current set make up and what style of iron I like to look at behind the ball. For the past few years I’ve played with a blade-style combo iron which look thin behind the ball but I know has enough forgiveness for my mis-hits. The G range looks too chunky so we decide to start with the i200s and take it from there.
Ping have their own static fitting chart to give you height and wrist-to-floor measurements. I came out as blue dot, 0.75° flat. This could change during the fitting depending on your swing.
3. Hit some irons shots
Paul added the same shaft as my current irons (steel KBS Tour) and we used Trackman to monitor the results. After a few not so good ones I soon found my groove and the centre of the club face. I noticed slightly more distance than normal, nothing too drastic, but my dispersion was a little wild.
Paul was able to use his experience and shaft knowledge to help me reign in my ball dispersion and keep me in the centre of the fairway instead of the rough.
Before switching shafts I hit five shots from the highly technical lie board. A perspex board was placed on the floor with a piece of lie tape on the sole of the club. This allowed Paul to see if the blue lie angle was right for me.
Unfortunately my swing would not co-operate and I didn’t get any markings on the tape but my ball flight and feel from the club face were enough to show the blue dot was right for me.
We blind-tested four other shafts of different brands and weights to try to make this happen, including one he knew wouldn’t work for me just to prove the difference it can make.
This is where enjoying tinkering with golf clubs comes into play.
We analysed the results and agreed that the i200 head with the AWT 2.0 steel shaft was the perfect combination for me. Irons sorted.
4. Driver testing
This is when I got a little nervous. In my whole golfing life (15 years in total) I’ve probably hit a driver 20 times on the course. My lack of confidence in being able to hit it consistently straight has meant it’s stayed in the garage and I’ve used a 3 wood.
Paul was well aware of this though. A combination of his encouragement, advancements in forgiveness and fine-tuning lofts and face angles meant we were able to make some progress.
We started with the G SF Tec with 12° loft. This model is specifically designed to help if you slice your driver from the tee.
A fade is my normal miss but as I’m working on getting a slight draw we decided the SF Tec model was not needed and as I catch the ball ‘on the up’ the 12° loft is unnecessary. So the next club in my hand was a 10.5˚ G.
If I was picking a driver off the shelf it wouldn’t be a 10.5° so I was very interested to see the results.
It turns out it’s plenty of loft for me. I really liked the ball flight and if I needed to carry some trees or hazard from the tee I know I could get the ball up and be safe.
That was loft sorted, next up was trying to match a shaft.
I tried different shafts, all in regular flex, but with different weights and launch characteristics to see if we could squeeze an extra few yards and tighten up the dispersion. We tried the Tour 65 and 80 which were slightly heavier. We’re only talking a few grammes but Trackman shown a drop in distance and less accuracy.
I had the most success and confidence with Alta 55 shaft, so after a re-test and a consistent 220 yards, I was happy.
5. Fairway wood
This was slightly easier as I should see the benefits throughout my set of using the same shaft as in the driver. However, by trying a few other shafts we were able to prove this was the case. When we monitored the data, the Alta shaft was the perfect fit.
Paul and I had a chat about where and when I would use a wood out on the course. The answer was from the fairway on par 5s, on 180+ par 3s and off the tee on par 4s where position was key rather than distance. That made the choice of a G 3 wood set to 14.5° the perfect option.
Next step was the gap between 5-iron and 3-wood. I’ve mainly used a 7-wood previously but also carried a 4-iron… for no reason at all really. I recently switched to a 4-hybrid because my G5 7-wood was looking tired.
We opted to try a G 4-hybrid at 22° which would come into play on par 3s and long approach shots.
It turns out the hybrid will fill the gap and I hit it really well. The combo of a fairway wood/iron design gave me the confidence to swing the the ball and taking this onto the course I would be able to play over a long carry, out of the semi-rough or up my green in regulation stats with no issues.
Fairway and Hybrid sorted.
7. Wedge fitting
My short game is where I’m lacking. I’d previously picked random wedges in the lofts I thought I needed without much thought.
Ping’s new Glide 2.0 models look great to me behind the ball. I play all chips and pitches in the air. I don’t have the feel to chip and run so my short game stroke involves getting into the turf. Firstly Paul gave me the SS (Standard Sole) model.
There was a every thud noise with this club as hit behind the ball, meaning the sole was a little thick so he passed me the TS (thin sole) model.
The difference in strike noise was clear immediately. I was able to get a great strike and floating ball flight which would be perfect for going over hazards and stopping the ball quickly. The perfect loft for me was the 58°.
For the gap in between my i200 wedge and the 58° we chose a 52° for general approach shots and bunker play.
8. Choosing grips
The final stage was to double-check what grip size I needed. Two simple hand measurements from my wrist to the tips of my fingers put me into the aqua grip category.
This again is something that doesn’t always meet a static measurement. Due to my shot shape and striking, we decided the standard white grip would be more suitable.
The thinner Aqua grip might encourage my wrists to turn over too much and cause a hook.
Ping custom fit set make-up:
Driver: G (10.5 degree), Ping Alta Shaft, cut -0.75” shorter, standard white grip
Fairway: G (14.5 degree), Ping Alta shaft, standard white grip
Hybrid: G (22 degree), Ping Alta shaft, standard white grip
Irons: i200, AWT 2.0 steel shafts, blue dot, standard white grip
Wedges: Glide 2.0, 52/12 degree standard sole, 58/6 degree thin sole, AWT 2.0 steel shafts, black dot, standard white grip
— Nicola Hewson (@nikkihewson) February 7, 2017
After two hours of testing I was incredibly happy with everything that Paul and I decided on. Having the right combination of clubs in the bag, all specifically tailored to me, will inspire great confidence and trust when I’m on the course.
Being Ping, you know each club is custom built in the factory at Gainsborough to the highest standard and with care and attention.
My game has changed a lot since my original fitting which is evident in the change of iron head shape and shaft material. This shows how regular fits along the way as your game improves allows your clubs to change with you – something that I really didn’t appreciate.
No matter what your standard, I recommend getting fitted for every club in your bag. Being custom-fitted is for everyone. It’s an experience every golfer should have. It will 100 per cent have a positive effect on your game and you’ll see improvements in all areas of your game.
If you’re just getting into golf and aren’t sure if you need to be custom fit, well Lady Golfer’s Harriet started playing in the summer of 2016 and also went through the fitting process. Read about her experience here.
See your local authorised PING stockist or book a session at the fitting centre at Gainsborough get your set customised.
Keep an eye on the website for my journey to single figures with my new Ping clubs.