Club Fitting: A Career That Combines Art and Science
Feb 5, 2014
It’s been said that good club fitters are a dying breed. David Estabrook, a golf professional at Golf Academy of America in Dallas, is making a point to counteract that notion, introducing his passion for club fitting to students as an ever-growing career option.
His thinking couldn’t be more accurate. Last year, the equipment portion of golf revenue was $4 billion, and soft goods came in at $1 billion. Couple that with recent survey data telling us eighty percent of customers think fitting is very important, but only 20 percent of golfers get clubs fitted. In light of these staggering numbers, Estabrook believes the industry needs more professionals who understand the art and science of club fitting.
So, what kind of person makes a good club fitter? There’s no set personality or background necessary. However, a club fitter must:
- Have a passion for education and helping people improve their game.
- Understand the physics of a golf swing.
- Be open-minded, as everyone’s perspective and swing is different.
- Acknowledge that equipment isn’t always the solution, and be willing to gently recommend a customer consider lessons instead of new clubs.
Because of the computer-aided design, fitting is a great career option for golfers with an interest or background in engineering and computers.
Golf Academy of America is seeing an increasing number of students opt for a club fitting concentration in their course of study. These students are trained in the latest computer-aided fitting equipment and often find jobs very quickly after completing their GAA training. Bruce Coskie is a recent graduate who chose this career path.
After 30 years of military service, the 49-year-old was too young to retire, and on the lookout for a new career. A little bit of serendipity opened the door for him to turn his favorite sport into a profession.
During his studies, Coskie discovered that his background as a Navy Civil Engineer made him particularly well-suited to club fitting. He was good with his hands and swing mechanics just clicked. Military experience also made him a natural teacher. Coskie graduated from Golf Academy of America with a specialty in club fitting/repair, and training on the latest programs to back it up. He now works with TopGolf, where he uses his degree in Golf Complex Operations and Management along with his club fitting specialty.
“Because all human bodies, musculatures, and power sources are different, I find that a different set of clubs, based on the physical characteristics of each golfer, is required,” Coskie said. He explained that standard clubs are fitted to males who are 5’9” and one size certainly doesn’t fit all. “Most golfers are using the wrong size clubs, either too long or too short. I fit clubs to golfers, not golfers to clubs.”
Estabrook agreed, likening the experience of choosing golf clubs to shopping for a tailored men’s suit. Very few people can buy off the rack and get the right fit. Alterations are needed. A well-trained club fitter has the equipment and technology to educate the consumer to make the best decision possible.
“The challenge is that we live in a society where new is better, and golfers are often impulsive shoppers,” said Estabrook. “People are looking for a quick fix.” The price difference for custom clubs is nominal, when compared to standard versions, and most manufacturers only have 7-10 days turn around. This is where a club fitter’s role as an educator becomes pertinent.
“The benefits of custom club fitting can be measured in superior ball striking and lower scores for all levels of players, not just professional golfers,” Estabrook said. Coskie agreed, naming the greatest benefit of properly fitted clubs as increased enjoyment of the game. All it takes is a well-trained fitter to educate his customer on these benefits. Who doesn’t want to get better faster and be more consistent?