Why You Should Get Fitted for Golf Clubs by Christine Lynn Harvey

The Island Green Golf Center located in Selden, NY has been offering club-fitting services for over 9 years. Club fittings for various club manufacturers are currently offered and the service will be extended to include more manufacturers and a shop fully devoted to club-fitting services next year.

"Everybody should get club-fitted," says Darren McAlonie, general manager at Island Green, "because nobody has the same swing and even if they are the same height, arm length can be different too." It's also important to select the proper shaft flex since many people are using shafts that are too stiff for them which prevents them from loading the club head properly. Women who are not that strong should go with a ladies flex shaft; stronger women golfers are better fitted with a senior flex which is a cross between a ladies shaft and regular shaft. The material the shaft is made of also helps. Graphite shafts help women increase club head speed and get more distance out of the ball. There are different shaft flexes to choose from based on your skill as a golfer.

McAlonie says it's important to get the right club set. Height, age, sex and swing style all determine what kind of clubs you should buy. All manufacturers have a custom department which the club fitter calls in your club specs in to. This information includes the type of club, shaft, flex, length and lie angle of the club.

Club fitters can help you customize your club set. Most golfers no longer use 3 and 4 irons and opt for hybrid clubs which are easier to use. The money saved on buying the right clubs can save you frustration on the golf course. " You can also choose special clubs that help correct inconsistencies in your swing. Offset clubs and heel-weighted clubs like Taylor Made's R7, can help correct swing faults. If you tend to slice a lot, you can adjust the club to put weight in the heel of the club and get the face to close quicker or, if you're a hooker, you can place the weight in the toe and get the club to close slower which tends to straighten out your fairway drives.

Some beginning and 'weekend' golfers buy a set of clubs from large chain sporting goods stores, but these stores don't offer club-fitting services or allow you to build a custom set, nor do they have demo clubs. Island Green offers several demo days throughout the year where golfers can test-drive clubs before they buy them. Also, working hard to make improperly fitted clubs perform they way you want them to can cause you to overcompensate which can develop serious flaws in your technique as well as golf-related injuries.

If you are serious about golf, "fit" clubs make the game more enjoyable, so the $45 to $120 you will pay for club-fitting is a worthwhile investment that can knock strokes off your game. Island Green Golf Center offers a vector launch monitor which allows you to test 70 driver demos and costs $75. The machine tests swing speed, ball spin and launch angle, the two most important factors for getting distance out of your woods. But this machine is really targeted to the more serious golfer who has a handicap of 12 or less. Unless you are consistent with your swing, you will not gain the full advantage of being tested on the vector launch monitor. McAlonie observes a person's swing first and does not put them on the monitor unless he feels they can benefit from it.

Another part of getting fitted involves placing the golfer on a lie angle board with tape placed on the bottom of the club. The golfer is asked to hit several balls to see where the club and ball meet at impact. "Most people hit the ball off the toe partially because they don't release the club and allow the toe pass the heel and also because their swing path is 'out to in,' says McAlonie. "This causes a problem of pull-hooking the ball. Bending the hosel upwards or downwards where it joins the club head allows you to make better impact with the ball.

If you have a pre-existing set of clubs, Island Green can regrip, fix the length and/or lie angle of the club, but it's best buying a new set of clubs and starting from the ground up. When choosing club-fitting services, make sure the club fitter is certified and has years of experience behind what they do. "Look for customer service and integrity. That's what we offer," says McAlonie.

To schedule a club-fitting or for more info, contact Island Green Golf Center, 495 Middle Country Road, Selden, NY (631) 732-4442; www.islandgreengolf.com