GolfTec Custom Fitting
New Equipment Time?
By John Ehle
The wonderful, anomalous beginning of spring this year has sponsored a faux beginning to the golf season given the recent chilly weather. It has not, however, curtailed the plotting, planning and fantasizing which we golfers engage in each year at this time. Commitments are made which rival New Year's resolutions in terms of their likelihood to be pursued with diligence and passion. They may, however, be jettisoned as soon as the first string of bogies are lodged on one's scorecard. But, hope springs eternal.
We denizens of the Badger state suffer through winters without respite from nasty, golfless stretches which challenge the golfer's soul. Thoughts turn to a rededication to practice more, take lessons and, eventually, how to get an additional 15 yards off the tee. New equipment!!! The silver bullet and the answer to all golfing ills. Maybe.
I've been known to quote my mentor, Manuel de la Torre, whose admitted bias comes down on the side of more lessons and less money spent on new equipment. Manuel says, "If golfers would spend a fraction of their equipment budget on lessons, their games would improve appreciably". Difficult to dispute, ain'a?
This year I've been absolved of techno-guilt and buyer's remorse as my 4-year-old driver arrived in Milwaukee with its head snapped off at the hosel. After a 10 day psychic wrestling match with the customer service folks at my airline, the impending settlement encouraged me to go shopping for a new driver. I called Brendan Locke at GolfTec and he invited me to stop by for a custom fitting with his ace fitter, Dan Wells. If there's something about clubs and fitting technology that Dan doesn't know, it's because he has forgotten it. He is not only a great teacher of the golf swing, he is encyclopedic regarding how to obtain the salient swing data which points one in the direction of the correct club. Dan's customers are usually students first and shoppers second so Dan's approach to outfitting is needs-based and not an attempt to get yet one more set of clubs out the door.
The "lab" at GolfTec on Mequon Road looks like a physics lab: sensors, screens, computers and an abundance of golf clubs. After my warm-up, Dan Wells explained the process of data-gathering. I would be "testing" four drivers, all with regular shafts, 10.5 degrees of loft and each with shafts between 45 and 45.5". The grips were very similar. Dan handed me one of the drivers and asked me to hit 5 balls from the tee which was placed in front of the sensor. When I had completed the task, Dan pointed out the results which were registered on a large, flatscreen monitor. A graph at the bottom registered ball speed, launch angle, spin rate*, carry distance and total distance, by driver. I repeated the process with each of the four drivers. The results were color coded by driver so the individual shots were arrayed on the screen as arcs which appeared from the point of view of looking downrange. The graph made comparisons quite simple; driver by driver.
Dan eliminated one shot from each driver grouping. These were the "outliers"; shots which varied significantly from the other four. Statistically, this process prevented one bad shot from skewing the aggregated data of each club. As we examined the results, it was apparent that two of the four drivers had emerged as somewhat superior. Dan also pointed out the "grouping" tendency of the drivers; the tightness of each driver's distribution of results. Again, the two drivers with the better numerical results demonstrated a better grouping tendency. (* A low spin rate is desirable as the golfball tends to roll out farther)
Interestingly, there was no one driver which emerged as either clearly superior or inferior to the others. Datawise, quantitative significance did not demonstrate a clear winner; just two drivers which were somewhat superior in measurable ways. In these situations, one is left with the element of subjective impressions of the products and that was the case with me. One driver appealed to my eye more than the other and I chose it based on that subjective assessment. I didn't have to make a leap of faith to make my pick: I just had to know what I liked.
The GolfTec fitting process is simple, straightforward and comes at no cost to the client if a product selection is made. Otherwise, it costs $99. Part #2 of this article will cover the fitting process for wedges and putters and will appear on April 19 in this column.
The Mequon store is located at 1408 W. Mequon Rd and the front desk can be reached at 262.240.9851. Dan Wells may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Revised: 05/05/2012 - Article Viewed 32,210 Times
About: John Ehle
John Ehle writes for GolfWisconsin.com, GolfTrips,com and other golf-related sites in the US. He has attended 6 Open Championships in the British Isles and many men's and women's US Opens and PGA Championships as well as Ryder Cups and President's Cups.
His primary international writing is golf course reviews and travel articles. He also writes about golf equipment and other golf-related products. Most recently he traveled to Cuba and will be in SE Asia for 6 weeks in February and March, 2012.
He writes a weekly column for a metropolitan newspaper in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. He is a 10 handicap golfer and has competed in many Wisconsin State Golf Association events.