Custom Clubs

Why Do So Few of Us Take the Trouble to Get Custom Clubs?

Yesterday, an interesting article appeared in the Yahoo Lifestyle section about custom golf clubs. It was written by Robin Swithinbank in the robreport, and was quite thorough. It also left me slapping myself in the forehead once or twice.

Like many people, I have played the game my whole life. From the very beginning, I fit the body and clubs together in backward fashion. As a young person, it never occurred to me that I should find the clubs to suit my swing. I forgot the sage’s advice to “use the swing you were given.” I have never personally seen two swings that are just alike, and have come to realize that each is as different as snowflakes.

Swithinbank speaks of millions of golfers buying clubs “off the peg.” I can go one better, or worse than that. I have actually enjoyed the pursuit of the perfect set of clubs, one at a time, through constant skulking about bins, back alleys, and Goodwills.

My embarrassed brother finally put a stop to it and handed me a set of high quality irons that I have come to enjoy immensely. However, in golf’s answer to dumpster diving, I have come up with a few excellent drivers, fairway woods, and one or two putters. It proves that people don’t always know what they have, and should have spent the money on lessons instead of new clubs – but oh well.
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I did have an evaluation once to outfit me with a new set of woods. It was a long time ago, when they really were made of wood. It came down to stiff shaft or flex shaft in one aspect. Still needing to be cool wherever and whenever possible, I wanted stiff shaft, but they finally convinced me that I just don’t hit it hard enough for that. All right, so then they got into head weight, and at one point, took some granular material out of the driver. Vanity struck again. The set had a fancy British-style high tension plastic window in the sweet spot.

I took them to the range down the hill from the pro shop, and hit more duck hooks than I had in my entire life. If they ever built dog-legs at a 90 degree angles, like going around the corner of a building, I was going to have a great time. No no, head’s too light, a C or D 7 or 9 or something like that. It was for a smaller player, perhaps a woman’s weight. Put it back in, and I owned an immediate and reliable  Patriot Missile slice. I bought them anyway, and sabotaged the whole effort by adapting my body to the clubs, just like before. Big head driver? That’s for lesser players who are afraid they’ll miss the whole thing – oh wait a minute, I’ve done that.

Now, an evaluation is a lot more scientific, much more high-tech. Swithinbank recommends the Titleist Tee-0t-Green Fitting & Golf Performance Evaluation. Sounds good, with all those machines. It runs just under $2,000, bringing another old mental flaw to the fore.

My inner voice used to say, “I can’t go out and get custom clubs. I don’t play well enough to do that!” The voice on my other shoulder says “You might if you would go ahead and do it!” As for the two thousand dollars, I can’t just say “I don’t play well enough for that.” Fact is, that’s a hefty hunk of change to improve a game that will still remain in the amateur ranks and will win nothing but my own admiration. Besides, the bank says I don’t play well enough for that.
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At the bottom of it, though, it is an excellent point, finding what fits you. My bin days are over, and the irons seem to come pretty close. Still, I admit, when sauntering through the Good Will on another person’s mission, I always take a glance at the driver bin, thinking like the lady who found a million dollar painting in her garage. Maybe we should face it – we might play a lot better if we go “custom.”

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