By Nick Zellmer, WiscoGolfAddict Contributing Writer
A number of friends have asked me about my recent fitting experience at Club Champion, so I wrote up a little review for them and thought I’d also share it here.
What they want to know most is if it’s worth the price and if I learned anything I didn’t already know. The short answer is yes, I thought it was worth it and I did learn some things along the way.
I think the highlight for me was the availability of all types of exotic shafts. Eric was my fitter and he obviously has more knowledge of the clubs/shafts than I do so that was extremely helpful.
Club Champion emails a questionnaire prior to the fitting to find out a few things. They ask if you are loyal to any brands so they can ensure you hit those brands during the fitting. They also gauge the kind of player you are based on index and your answers to several quick questions.
I did a full bag fitting simply because it was 50% off (new store discount) and I thought it would be a fun way to spend 3.5 hours in the heart of a winter snow storm. The full bag fitting includes irons, driver, wedges, fairway wood, hybrid and putter.
I started by warming up with a 7-iron, then moved on to the 6-iron that’s currently in my bag (gamer). These swings provided a baseline for the TrackMan data. I have the TaylorMade PSI’s in my bag, so Eric grabbed the TM 790’s first since they’re most like the PSI. They only have 6-iron heads at the store and will have you try several head/shaft combos. You’re only hitting 6-irons to allow for accurate comparisons of data between different manufacturers.
Eric analyzes every swing and pays attention to what the ball is doing relative to the baseline data from the club you’re gaming. He’s looking at ball speed, club head speed, smash factor and spin. Eric can tell quickly if a club isn’t working out, so you can eliminate it from the hunt. All the while you’re trying to find that perfect shaft/iron combination. I had a giant blister on my hand by the end of the fitting, but we eventually found the combination that best suited me. Eric added it to the quote and we moved on to the driver and repeated the process.
Gamer iron/shaft combo: TaylorMade PSI irons (4-PW) / KBS C-Taper 105 stiff
Club Champion iron/shaft combo: TaylorMade M5 irons / Aerotech Steelfiber i95 Parallel stiff
I tried several drivers but hit the Srixon head the best with the PADERSON KINETIXX LOADED. I am currently gaming the Srixon Z-785 so I was pleased that I had good results with that head and only needed to change the shaft. I had never heard of Paderson before stepping in to the store that day. The drivers I hit were from TaylorMade, PXG, Ping, Cobra, Srixon and Callaway.
Gamer driver/shaft combo: Srixon Z-785 with Project X HZRDUS Black Handcrafter 65 Graphite (stock)
Club Champion driver/shaft combo: Srixon Z-785 with Paderson KB Driver KG65-D30
Eric put tape on the bottom of my wedges and asked me to hit a few 60-75 yard shots. He looked at the bottom of the tape and saw the impressions were right in the center. According to Eric, this was desirable, so we didn’t spend much time on wedges other than discussing the Vokeys’ grinds. I looked in to the grinds when I got them at the end of last season and am happy with my current wedge setup. He didn’t disagree based on the swings I took so we moved on after seeing a few other wedge options
Gamer wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 Jet Black – 50.08 F-Grind, 56.08 M-Grind, 60.10 S-Grind
Club Champion wedges: No changes
Eric asked if I wanted to move on to fairway woods or hybrids. Fatigue was setting in a little after all the swings, so I felt it best to spend the remaining energy on fairway woods. To me, it was more important than hybrids because of how many times I hit fairway wood at my home course (5-6 per round) compared to the number of times I hit hybrid (once or twice). Based on the driver shaft we decided on earlier, he had an idea of the type of fairway wood shaft I needed.
I hit the M6, Cobra and a few others, along with a few different shafts: Paderson, Project X, Oban, etc. After trying a number of these combinations, he handed me what he described as the “Secret Weapon” – it was the M6 Rocket fairway wood. He wasn’t kidding. After hitting the secret weapon, I increased my distance and was more consistent, so we decided on that club head. That club is apparently selling really well and is already on backorder. I suspect I’ll see several secret weapons on the course this summer.
Gamer fairway wood/shaft combo: TaylorMade M2 HL 3-Wood (2016) / Reax 65 stiff flex S (stock)
Club Champion fairway wood/shaft combo: TaylorMade M6 Fairway Rocket 3-Wood 14” / Oban Isawa Red 75 Stiff (O4)
We repeated the familiar process with the hybrid and narrowed it down to the Srixon Z-H85. I was gassed at this point in the fitting.
Gamer hybrid/shaft combo: Srixon Z-H65 Hybrid 19” / Miyazaki Kaula 7 for hybrid (stock)
Club Champion fairway wood/shaft combo: Srixon Z-H85 Hybrid #3 19” / Paderson KG Hybrid KG80-HUT30
We moved to the SAM putting device on the putting green. Eric attached a device to my current putter and calibrated the machine based on how I address the ball. He then had me hit eight putts toward the hole. I missed the first one and literally made the next seven in a row. Felt like Tiger.
He basically said if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. The results showed the path with which the club head hits the ball at impact, the rotation of the club head relative to the path, the degree at which the face is open/closed at impact, the launch conditions, lie at impact, consistency of rotation and some other data. The results make recommendations based on the data. They suggested a balanced mallet putter with a jumbo grip to minimize movement/turning of the club face. I’m currently gaming a Scotty Cameron X5R so we didn’t feel a need to change.
Gamer putter: Scotty Cameron X5R
Club Champion putter: No change
Obviously, I only play K-Sigs. Just kidding, this is just a nod to the /r/golf/ subreddit community. We didn’t spend much time on ball fitting, we just talked about the subtle differences between Prov1 and Prov1x, TP5 and TP5x, etc.
All in all, I enjoyed the fitting and certainly don’t mind paying $175 (normally $350) for a proper fit every few years (the last time I was fit was in 2015 so I was overdue). Once the fitting was done, Eric provided me with a quote.
The price to get a whole new bag’s worth of equipment brought on sticker shock. Club Champion included Mill River pricing (15%) on the club heads but not on the shafts so that’s pretty nice they’re able to do that. I may end up purchasing some of the equipment from Club Champion – likely the driver shaft and maybe the fairway wood and shaft.
Since I was fit for the M5 irons, I’m going to purchase them from TaylorMade.com simply because I’m able to take advantage of the trade-in program they have. For a limited time, TaylorMade is letting you trade in clubs and receive 150% value with the purchase of any M5/M6 product (valid until 11:59 PM on March 3). This is hard to beat given that I’m trading in my old PSI iron set and six other older clubs (TaylorMade M2 driver, M2 3W, an old R5 Dual driver, and 3 Vokey SM5 wedges). The total trade-in value is $622.50. To me, it’s worth trading in these clubs rather than going through the hassle of trying to sell them on eBay or GolfWRX.
Anyway, I enjoyed the fitting and it helped to have Eric walk me through the pros and cons of each club. Most importantly, though, it helped to have someone tell me what the data means. The fitting was awesome.
TL, DR – I found the fitting helpful and worth the money because I wanted to figure out what equipment worked best for my golf swing. I purchased the irons/shafts from TaylorMade.com because I could take advantage of their trade-in program. I purchased the driver shaft from Club Champion and I haven’t purchased the fairway or hybrid yet but will give it more thought before I get into the swing of things this season.