Saint Louis golf courses range from par 3 beginner-friendly courses to tough loops such as Bellerive Country Club, ranked among Golf Digest’s top 200 courses in the country. The city’s golfing scene clearly represents a wide spectrum of styles and difficulties, but they’re all made much harder if the golfer is playing with the wrong clubs. It may sound benign, but many golfers likely sacrifice strokes and fun by just accepting clubs as the factory makes them.
The Couture Connection
Getting clubs fitted might be best described in terms of a more everyday purchase: clothing. While golf gloves, bags, and even shoes vary little from model to model, fitted clubs are the sporting-goods equivalent to bespoke attire. Just as off-the-rack clothing is tailored to a generalized body type, clubs right from the shelf are only designed to fit the average golfer's physique—and hence the average golfer’s swing path, level of physical strength, age, and overall skill level.
What a Club Fitter Does
To account for these traits, a club fitter will have golfers hit a number of balls on an outdoor range or inside a simulator, swapping out many variants of the same club until its parameters result in the best ball flight. Such variations differ from case to case, but common factors include the length, flex, and kick point of the shaft, the loft angle of the clubface, the grip size, and the swing weight.
Is It for Everyone?
The added expense of club fitting, as well as its emphasis on minute details, makes some players feel they’re too “casual” about golf to invest in club fitting. But Bob VanSweden, TaylorMade's 2009 national club fitter of the year, sees things differently. "The higher the handicap,” he told Golf Digest, “the more necessary it is for that player to get fit.”
Once golfers have their new, precisely fit clubs in their bag, they’re often eager to get them out on the course and see what they’ve been missing. St. Louis golf courses such as Eagle Springs Golf Course and Sugar Creek Golf Course give golfing enthusiasts plenty of fairway to take their new tailor-made sticks for a spin.