Why the club-building process is just as important as a fitting

tiger woods inspects clubs

The club build is an important part of the fitting process.

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Welcome to Fit Factor, a new GOLF.com series in which we’re shining a light on the importance of club fitting, powered by insights, data and other learnings from the experts at our 8AM Golf sister company, True Spec Golf.

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Hitting the point of build. It’s a term you need to know when going through a club fitting. In the latest edition of GOLF’s Fit Factor series, we take a closer look at a part of the fitting process that tends to get overlooked: the club build.

For those who’ve gone through a fitting and found a club (or clubs) that knocked it out of the park, the next logical step in the process is turning the detailed spec sheet into an actual club. Unless you can get your hands on the club you just tested — and you should definitely ask before assuming it’s out of the question — the next best thing is having a competent club builder in the fold.

“The fit is only as good as the build,” said Tim Briand, senior vice president of GOLF.com’s sister company True Spec Golf. “You can get fit by the best suit fitter in the world and you bring it over to a fitter that doesn’t know how to cut fabric, the fitting wasn’t pointless. “So if you’re going to get fit, make sure you’re getting it built by somebody that either knows that specific product line in and out, or is a very reputable builder so they can replicate what you identified in the fitting.”

The spec sheet is usually full of important numbers — swing weight, shaft length, potential tipping, grip size (maybe a few additional tape wraps) and hot melt. These are just a few of the notes you might find on your sheet after a fitting. They all add up to the perfect club for your game.

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Before you assume a fitter is going to build your clubs, it’s important to ask a few questions to get a handle on their club building knowledge.

“I’d ask them how a longer or shorter shaft affects swing weight,” Briand said. “If he can’t answer it accurately, you probably don’t need to have him do the build. Does he understand how a standard or midsize grip affects swing weight? If he doesn’t, you’re better off finding a build shop that does.”

Think of it as a job interview. Your fitter might be great a getting the right club in your hands, but he may not possess the tools to build the club. If he doesn’t, it’s important to look for someone who can complete the build process, or at least ask what the workflow looks like if you were to complete the build with the fitter. The last thing you want is a club that doesn’t fit your game like a glove.

“There’s some idiosyncrasy in the build or some issue in the build that may be off a little bit and if you can’t build it and replicate through every club, not just one club, it can be a problem,” Briand said. “If you’re building a set of irons and can’t match that up all the way through the set and make sure they’re built properly, that’s a problem. It’s a lot more intricate than people think on the build.

“As we’ve talked about, if I go with a white grip, that’s going to decrease swing weight so now I have to increase the head weight. So what’s going to happen when I do that? Well, that’s going to soften the shaft. Now I have to trim the shaft a little differently. So if I’ve already cut the shaft and I try to add weight on the head, I’ve wasted the shaft because now I have to stiffen the tip section. So the build process is way more intricate and detailed than I think the average golfer understands.”

Before you get completely overwhelmed by the idea of putting the fitter through a semi-job interview, understand that a properly built club can benefits golfers of all skill levels — not just the tour pros. So ask the right questions.

“I would [the proper club build] is definitely helpful and if you’re truly looking to maximize your scores, then yes, the build is very important,” Briand said. “If you’re more casual about it, and this is more of a social activity and a little bit of exercise, it’s still going to add to your enjoyment significantly.”

Looking for the perfect clubs for your game? Head over to True Spec Golf to book a custom fitting.

For more gear news and information, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast in the Spotify embed below.

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Jonathan Wall

Golf.com

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour.