What Is Golf Club Fitting? Custom Fitting Explained

On this page, I’ll answer some common questions about golf club fitting for people who have not been through a clubfitting session before and who want to learn more about it. These questions include:

  • Why should I have a golf club fitting?
  • What does a club fitting experience consist of, how long does a session take, and how should I prepare?
  • How much do fittings cost and will the fitter give me a reduction if I buy equipment?
  • Which is better: indoor or outdoor fitting?
  • Who will build my clubs?

Why should I have a golf club fitting?

Golf club fitting is the process of finding the right equipment for your specific golf swing and body type. Renowned golf club designer Tom Wishon has stated, “My three decades in golf club R&D has proven without question that the best golf clubs any player will ever play will be a set of professionally custom fit golf clubs, and not a standard set simply bought off the shelf.”

Most clubs on sale at big box stores or your local golf retailer are roughly the same length, weight, and grip thickness, and are aimed at the “average” player. But if every player’s physique and mechanics are different, then who is “average”? Hardly anyone, if truth be told.

Virtually every professional has their equipment fitted to their golf swing, so despite what you might think when you see them advertising for Callaway, TaylorMade, Titleist, Mizuno, Cobra, or other major brands on TV, they are not playing the same clubs you can walk in and buy off the shelf at a retail golf shop. So it’s important to realize that not only might those shiny new clubs you’re thinking about buying straight off the rack not make you a better player, they might even hurt your golf and make you a worse player if they don’t fit your action and body type because you’ll end up making compensations that could mess up your game. You simply cannot play your best without equipment that is appropriate for your physical abilities and unique golf mechanics.

Buying new clubs is expensive, and no one wants to make expensive mistakes, but now that professional clubfitting services have become more accessible, getting your clubs professionally fitted (and ideally custom-built as well) is the best way to increase your chances of improving and reaching your true potential.

What does a club fitting experience consist of, how long does a session take, and how should I prepare?

There are usually four elements to a custom golf club fitting:

  1. The customer completes an interview/questionnaire about their present golf game, the clubs they are using, whether they have any physical disabilities, and their overall goals.
  2. Static measurements of the customer are made, including height, wrist-to-floor measurement, hand size, and finger length. This helps the fitter to determine the proper club lengths and grip sizes for the customer.
  3. Dynamic measurements are done by hitting balls using a launch monitor to evaluate how the customer’s existing clubs perform. The data gathered (e.g. clubhead speed, ball speed, launch angle, spin, and direction) are used as a baseline against which to test new combinations of shafts and clubheads. Among the variables tested will be: shaft material, weight, flex, flex-point, torque, and length; clubhead type, face angle, weight distribution, and loft; and grip type and dimensions. The testing continues until the best club configuration is achieved.
  4. Wrap-up discussion with the customer and recommendations.

Taken separately, a driver, fairway wood/hybrid club, iron, wedge, or putter fitting should take about 45-90 minutes to complete. A full bag fitting takes about 2-4 hours but the fitting might be split over two days because of the risk of the customer getting tired from hitting too many balls, which would lead to inconsistency and unreliable ball flight data.

To prepare, you should get to the golf shop or golf fitting location approximately 10-15 minutes prior to your scheduled start time so you are able to warm up prior to starting. Ideally, you should bring your current clubs so a baseline can be established. You should also bring the shoes you typically wear for playing, and wear comfortable golf attire.

How much do fittings cost and will the fitter give me a reduction if I buy equipment?

Prices for fitting golf clubs vary from shop to shop as well as from one fitter to another and also depend on whether it is for one club, several, or your full bag of golf clubs. Based on the information I’ve gathered from reviewing hundreds of websites, fitting clubs will cost something like this:

  • Full Bag Fitting – $250-$350
  • Driver Fitting – $100-$150
  • Fairway Woods/Hybrid Club/Utility Iron Fitting – $100-$200
  • Iron Fitting – $100-$150
  • Wedge Fitting – $75-$125
  • Putter Fitting – $75-$125
  • Gap (Distance) Fitting – $50-$100
  • Golf Ball Fitting – $50-$75

Some fitters give a substantial discount of between 33%-66% if a club or clubs are purchased, and a few will even waive the cost completely. But there are other clubfitting companies who do not give discounts because they say they have to pay for the technology they have invested in. So this is something you would need to check with the fitter directly before you book your fitting or by going online and visiting their website. You should also check the written terms of any guarantee or warranty that comes with the work: do not just take the fitter’s word for it.

Which is better: indoor or outdoor fitting?

If you’re being fitted in a city-center retail store or in someone’s converted garage, then clearly you’ll be hitting at a screen or net. In contrast, if you’re being fitted at a golf academy or golf performance center connected to a golf course you’ll be able to hit balls outdoors (perhaps even in mid-winter, from heated and covered hitting bays). As to which of these locations is better, there are conflicting points of view.

Proponents of indoor fitting say it ensures a level stance and the same lie for every shot, with no grass between the ball and club and no dirt in the grooves of the club face to affect the ball flight data. Turf (mat) conditions are consistent also so comparing one club to another is easier, and there is no wind to influence the distance, spin, or curve of the shot. In contrast to that, outdoor fitters insist that observing the ball flight outdoors is an essential part of the fitting process. Players may react differently when they are hitting balls into a screen as opposed to hitting balls under real-life conditions. The temptation indoors is to smash the ball and focus on the numbers instead of trying to hit a smooth, solid shot as one would do on a real golf course.

Some club fitters use a combined approach, where the initial measurements are taken indoors and then verified and fine-tuned outdoors. An example of this would be an indoor studio with a screen and launch monitor, which is used for initial measurements. Then the doors are opened up, allowing the customer to hit balls from inside the studio out onto the range, while still on the launch monitor. Other club fitters do their initial measurements in the studio and then take the customer to a nearby driving range to verify or refine their initial findings. This approach seems like a reasonable compromise, though the effect of wind still has to be factored in.

Who will build my clubs?

Some club fitters send the specifications from a custom fitting directly to the manufacturers, who build the clubs according to those specifications. The club fitter then checks them when they come back to make sure they are within spec before handing them on to the customer. In other cases, the clubs will be built in-house by qualified club builders, who can often build clubs to tolerances that are impossible at a factory level.

Other common questions:

As you browse through this directory or when you’re in conversation with your fitter, you’ll come across certain other terms that are specific to this industry, such as swing weight, gap fitting, and brand-agnostic. Here’s what they mean:

What is swing weight?

This concept was put forward during the 1920s as a means of expressing how heavy a club feels when it’s being swung. Yet despite the fact that its usage in golf terminology goes back almost 100 years, not many golfers understand how it’s measured or its implications.

Because it concerns the feeling of the club in motion it’s a dynamic measure – as opposed to a static measure – of the club, such as its absolute weight. The precise value is measured on a special scale that all fitters should have in the workshop. The club is placed on the scale at a 14″ fulcrum point from the grip end and a sliding weight is used to measure the weight required to balance the club at that point. You can see a demonstration of the process in this video. It can also be measured from formulas based on the club’s length, shaft weight, club head weight, and grip weight.

The scale is categorized by letters, from A to F, and within each letter category, there are 10 specific points (from 0 to 9). Therefore, the lightest possible value is A0 while the heaviest is F9. Men’s clubs bought off the rack generally measure around D1-D3 while women’s clubs are usually around C5-C7. The difference between each point on the scale (e.g. between D2 to D3) is very small and it only takes a change of about 2 grams to move it up or down. That means that making even a minor change to a golf club, such as shortening the club by half an inch, putting a piece of lead tape on the club head (or changing the weights in modern club heads), or putting on a slightly heavier grip will change the club’s swing weight and make the club feel slightly different. And obviously, if a player changes from light to heavy shafts or vice versa, that will make an even bigger difference.

The net effect of all of this is that if a player uses clubs that feel too heavy it will be difficult for them to achieve their maximum clubhead speed and to square the club face at impact. On the other hand, if they use clubs that have too low a swing weight they’ll have difficulty feeling the club head and this can lead to poor tempo, timing, and inconsistency.

What is gap fitting?

Gap fitting is the process of measuring the carry distances for each of your clubs and identifying any obvious anomalies in spacing, either too big a gap between two clubs or too little. For example, if your 7-iron carries 150 yards, your 6-iron 160 yards, and your 5-iron 180 yards, that means there is a 20-yard gap between the 6- and the 5-iron that has to be filled either by trying to force the 6-iron or take a lot off the 5-iron. One way this could be addressed would be by bringing down the loft of your 6-iron to try to achieve a target carry distance of 165 yards.

Gap fitting is often done for wedges when there is too much of a gap in distance between the pitching wedge, gap wedge, and sand wedge. And at the other end of the spectrum, it is useful for evening out the gaps between fairway woods and long irons or hybrids. With distances properly spaced the player can put a normal swing on the club on most shots instead of having to manufacture a shot to compensate for uneven spacing.

What does brand-agnostic mean?

Brand-agnostic services are those where the clubfitter has no connection with any particular manufacturer and will try combinations of heads, shafts, and grips from a range of different manufacturers. No one brand is promoted to the exclusion of all others and the clubfitter’s sole aim is to achieve the best possible fit for each customer, regardless of which brand is chosen.

Hopefully, this page has answered some of the key questions you might have had about the fitting process. Now click here to find a golf club fitter near you, or use the drop-down menu on the side.