I’ve worked 18 years in golf specialty retail – and people are so stubborn. There is something about the game of golf that creates an innate refusal to admit that you’re wrong, need a lesson, need a different club/shaft/grip, need a better fitting glove, new ball…the list goes on. I’m not sure why.
I worked with a customer today that started by looking at a box set. He said that he slices his current driver – and thought it was because of the “flex” shaft (1). I explained that the shafts used in the box set aren’t any stiffer than his current model and that he might be better suited for a stiffer shaft, so we moved over to the value section to check out our options.
I found a solid, older model driver that had a great price tag on it, offered forgiveness, adjustability, and a stiff shaft. We got him set up in the simulator to try the club, and that’s when the stubbornness began. He took swing after swing after swing and was not able to hit the center of the club face. Almost every shot was coming off the heel. He was hitting it all over the place!
We made a few adjustments with his grip and he started getting closer to the center, but was still missing it. In my mind the obvious question was whether he had ever had a lesson. He laughed and said that he doesn’t play enough to get lessons. I laughed back, in rocking support of him. But the reality was I was laughing at him.
Here he was, at a golf shop, actively looking for a new driver that could help him hit longer, straighter, more consistent drives that could help him play better golf. He, himself said that he can’t score or play well if he can’t hit a driver well. We tried a quality option for him and he could’t hit it anywhere near the center of the club face. Yet, he insisted that a lesson couldn’t help him. People! DON’T be this guy!! Please! Help us help you!!
If you are not a good golfer, then own that. It’s okay tot be a bad golfer. Really, none of us are as good as we want to be – even Tiger wants to be better! Don’t be worried that the golf shop guy is judging your swing – because he is. It’s his job! We’re not judgmentally looking down at you – but we’re analyzing your swing and trying to help you find the right item. And sometimes, when many avenues have been exhausted, we may suggest a lesson with a PGA Professional. Please don’t be offended.
The flip side of this example is the accomplished golfer. Quite often the accomplished player comes into the store having read every magazine article, every equipment blog on the GolfWRX, Bombsquad, and every other site they can find. They have implanted on their brain the exact shaft that they need that will put them over the top, and they come in looking for that and nothing else.
To that golfer I say, “have an open mind”. One thing that none of the magazine articles or blogs know is your golf swing. It’s YOURS, and like fingerprints, it is most likely very unique to you. Let the process help you decide. Challenge the fitter, ask questions, try as many options as you can. But in the end, defer to the truth: the one that felt best IS the best.
I was lucky enough to win a trip to one of the major manufacturer’s headquarters. While there, we were going to get fitted for drivers with any shaft we wanted. FREE. I remember going into that experience wanting the Tour AD-i shaft, desperately! That was the Tiger shaft at the time. Spieth was using it in his clubs. It was THE shaft of the moment. And they were going to give it to me for free!
Halfway through the fitting I realized that was not the right shaft for me. So we tried a Diamana Blue. Then we tried the KuroKage TiNi – Rory’s shaft at the time. Like many of us, I was intrigued by that fact – that I could be using the same shaft as Rory. I kept trying to make that shaft work for me. I hit 10 more drives with it than the Diamana. And the answer was crystal clear – the Diamana was a natural fit because I didn’t have to try to make it feel right. It just did.
Ultimately I was proud of myself that I didn’t get completely lost in the PGA effect. Admittedly, I did let it guide my thought process and perhaps cloud my judgment. But in the end I did the right thing and went with the one that felt and worked the best. And that club treated me VERY well for two years.
The takeaway here is this: let the process guide your decision. If something feels wrong, then move on. Find the one that feels right! If it feels right, then it fits! Now you just need to fine tune it from there.
Go in with an open mind and the answers will find you. And if you can’t hit the club face, don’t be offended, or surprised, if the fitter suggests a lesson. It’s probably the best option that he’s got for you at that time. And it most likely wouldn’t hurt! Don’t be that guy!
(1) One of my BIGGEST pet peeves! When a customer says that he has a “flex” shaft, I want to tear his tongue out. Folks, EVERY shaft has a flex. Therefore, EVERY shaft is a flex shaft. They each have a DIFFERENT flex – Senior, Regular, Stiff, Extra Stiff. Please do not be the “Flex shaft”: guy. PLEASE!