Mel Flanagan .ie

Cracking The Golf Code

Custom Fitted Golf Clubs, is it a Con?

by | March 28, 2018

Some years ago now, David Byrne PGA and I were hitting shots in a busy range in upstate New York, trying to keep our council away from other practisers. I was really cracking the ball. I love/ hate interfering with other golfers. I could not help notice a father and son hitting bucket after bucket of balls beside us. They had the most exclusive and expensive looking clubs I had ever seen.

Pro golfers have a sixth sense when it comes to all things golf a kind of a lateral vision. They may well be and my wife is inclined to agree very stupid in all things non-golf.

However it kept coming back to annoy me that not one of the father’s shots ever got airborne. Shot after shot scuttled along the ground every time, even though the father was using a 9 iron. Here’s the baffling disconnect for me, in that $5000 clubs and scuttle shots along the ground with a nine Iron are polar opposites.

Maybe it is the placebo effect, the idea of being club fitted and buying the most expensive clubs automatically will deliver the third part of the equation –the great game. It is a 1, 2, 3 but 3 never raises its head. 3 is just around the corner but it is one hell of a corner. It’s more of a roundabout, with the custom fitter hoping to nip another snip of pecunia off the frustrated golfer once again on the ’un-merry-go-round’. After all, what fool enjoys hitting bad shots.

Getting back to the range after about an hour, I could take no more. I decided to break the ice and eventually said to the father, “It is a pity the ball is not rising.” He was receptive to the cause and I explained to him the reason. It was all down to his grip.

I made a change getting rid of his terrible interlocking hooker’s grip that inevitably shut the clubface at impact, de-lofting it, with the scuttle shot result. He said it feels terrible but the balls started rising shot after shot. It was a dramatic change. He then said, “its technique is not, and why did nobody ever tell me that before.” The dramatic pain of the grip change was nulliffied by the beautiful elevated flight of the shots.

We even switched clubs down to his rescue and now he began to truly crack the ball. He looked at me funny, wondering, “It’s the ‘Swing’”, he said. He was so pleased he handed me a note and pushed in into my pocket.

I thought it was a 20 but much later on the home journey when I de-wrinkled it, a nice $100 number raised its lovely head. David joked, “Mel, we will hit the Chinese tonight. “

Getting back to the range, we  were outsiders , and i went back to hitting shots, however I noticed that his all empowering custom fitting guru had came along, out from his custom fitting cabin, and started to ’bat the breeze’ with him.

My temper started to ‘quietly boil’. I enquired as to how he “fitted” this man. Thinking more like “fitted up!”  He was talking down to me telling me it was a very scientific process and most of the day was taken up with three fitting sessions. One has to be accurate he lectured me.

There was an arrogance to this man that seemed to bypass results. I am a straight talker “did it not bother you, taking $5000 off this man and watching him scuttle shots along the ground with a 9 iron?” I enquired. “I gave him exactly what he wanted, the best.” he replied. To this, I said, “Well the best is not good enough, is It?”

This is not a single incident by any means, this is the new normal. Perception is far more important than reality. The Emperor’s New Clothes. There is a problem and it is compartmentalized into, it is your clubs that are the roadblock. All sorts of measurements are considered, height, size of hands, loft, lie, shaft flex. Angle of face, heel and toe, blade, semi blade. This is only the beginning of the ‘fit’. By the end of it you feel so unique, a truly special person, that only uniquely special clubs will fit. Specials inseparable twin is expensive, very expensive.

“Custom fitting is a total con.”

It is hard to say this, but I have come across many, many custom fitters in my day and I tell you this truthfully, I never ever met one who was a golfer of any skill. They were in it totally for the money. This you may find hard to believe most never played golf at all.

Dodging the problem.

Modern living tells us, experts whom we must call, sit back, and watch them deal with our problem, will ultimately solve our problem. Handing it over hoping that it will all go away, it is a fool’s paradise; we are silent witnesses to our problems in that we become powerless. There are three problems with this.

  1. It is a complete lie that you can export your problem.
  2. It is going to cost an arm and a leg.
  3. The real problem is that, you will become disorientated and susceptible to other false advances as most consultants are expert at slow selling, part fixing, stringing you along, heisting as much as can be extracted from you. They are first sales men and a long way down the road, consultants. Please go the other way inside out, look within. You are master of your own destiny.

Custom Fitted Golf Clubs are a luxury item, if you can afford them, then why not.


However, once you have learned to play the game, perfected your swing and achieve some sort of skill level, really you should be able to play well with any golf club. Once you understand this, then paying a lot of money for the Ferrari of Golf clubs is a personal choice. Have at it my friend.

The Swing.

Here is the reality. You alone are the only person ever going to solve your problem. Take charge. In Golf, it is the ‘SWING’, ‘YOUR SWING’ and it costs you zilch. There is a very simple system behind the swing. Learn it and David was right, go and do hit the Chinese.



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40 years playing and teaching professional level, I strive to improve the game for all my students.

Mel Flanagan PGA

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