Among the advantages of having the new PGA TOUR Superstore in Austin is the ability to leverage the store’s vast selection to customize your set with the various club-shaft-grip combinations you prefer and need to perform your best. Whether you prefer top-brand-name gear from Titleist, TaylorMade and Callaway or would rather go niche with brands like Honma or Tour Edge, it’s all there with a huge selection of in-stock shafts and grips. Also, the convenience of having knowledgeable, talented club repair and customization staff in-store to provide rapid turn-around times gives local golfers the sensation of having their club needs handled like a TOUR pro would.
The ultimate club-buying experience at PGA TOUR Superstore, however, involves their Tour Van custom-fitting process. If you want to be completely certain your clubs are dialed in to your swing tendencies and built to help you hit the purest shots, this is an essential component to your next club purchase.
I walked into my first Tour Van fitting with a decent idea of the iron set I was looking for and, having been fit and evaluated on Trackman and Foresight Sports Launch Monitors in the past, I was fairly certain my clubs would need to be more upright than the brand’s standard lie angle. I’ve also been told repeatedly by teachers and fitters that, while I produce decent swing speed and distance, I (almost mysteriously) don’t impart much spin onto the ball. This would likely factor into the fitting process.
Other than those preconceived thoughts, I met PGA TOUR Superstore fitting guru Jeff Webb with wide-eyed curiosity. Jeff’s meticulous but in an efficient way that includes the golfer in the fitting process. He doesn’t hoard the data or resort to trickery. Every time he switched out shafts to produce the ideal ball flight, he let me know what we were hoping to achieve and repeatedly checked in to ensure that my “feel” matched the results we were getting hitting into the simulator. We did spend a lot of time trying to boost spin numbers and the overall height of my shots. This process ranged from trying different balls as well as a variety of different shafts.
The Foresight Sports launch monitor tells no lies. A tendency to lazily let my right-hand grip get too strong led to a too-far-back ball position and weak, shallow move through the ball. Historically, I’m a high-ball hitter, so hearing Jeff call me out for my bad habits and resulting low ball flight meant I was getting a mini-lesson on top of the fitting. A club fitting with today’s technology is going to reveal the very DNA of your golf swing. How you come into the ball and how the ball behaves based on your movements will be represented in undeniable data points. Knowing your path into the ball, your launch angle, the height of your ball flight as well as where you hit the ball on the face and where it travels as a result is valuable information and can not only help you make the most informed club buying decision, it can also clue you in on what you need to work on in your swing.
I’d love to say it was all pretty, but my Tour Van fitting took some trial and error. In the end, though, I was producing pleasing iron shots and workability with a Mizuno JPX 919 Forged head paired with a 95-gram Nippon steel shaft. I did, indeed, measure two degrees upright in Mizuno’s universe which helped me minimize my tendency to hit shots out on the toe of the club. Jeff also made sure the clubs would be built to the proper length and prescribed a mid-sized grip with an extra wrap for my oddly-large hands.
Now, I wait for the clubs to arrive. The head of this Mizuno club is more sleek than the chunkier irons I’d been playing recently and I really think that’s going to inspire more confidence over the ball. Bill Price, Mizuno USA’s director of fitting says custom fitting is crucial these days because the rise in better shaft technology has revolutionized the way golfers can be properly fit for clubs. “The days of prescribing shafts strictly off of a golfer’s handicap or swing speed are over. There’s more to today’s shafts than their weight and flex. We understand now that shafts, through the course of the swing, bend and unbend in a distinctive manner. That bending profile tells an experienced fitter what he needs to know about fitting the golfer with the proper shaft,” Price says. “When you see things like more consistent distance control and a tighter shot dispersion, then you know you’ve got a shaft/head combination that suits you well.”
Price also had a good idea on why I gravitated to the JPX 919 Forged irons. The classic look and compact head remind me of the clubs I played before most modern irons got so thick and offset. Also, Mizuno packed 1025E mild carbon steel densely into the bottom of the JPX 919 Forged for improved feel, adding boron to the steel to make it stronger. This allowed Mizuno’s designers to make the face thinner, so the hitting area flexes more efficiently at impact to create more ball speed. What’s not to like?
Beyond my PGA TOUR Superstore Tour Van iron fitting, Jeff Webb has become my friendly neighborhood clubfitter. He recently spotted that I’d been impacting putts high on the putter face. My off-the-rack putter had a slightly too little loft for me and the tweak has me controlling distance better on mid-range and lag putts while still nailing the sweet spot on shorter-range putts.
If you’re ready to up your golfing IQ, pay Jeff a visit at Austin’s PGA TOUR Superstore at Mopac and Braker Lane at The Shops at Arbor Walk.
By Carl Mickerlson