GolfBox’s custom golf club fitting studio at Booragoon is the place where technology, science and the educated eye of an expert club-fitter intersect to help golfers fulfil their potential out on the course.
And after completing just one short-and-sharp session there, I became an instant convert, a devout club-fitting believer.
I’d heard good things about custom fitting, particularly in the recent launch monitor era, but assumed it was the domain of pros and elite players - those with enough talent and consistency to maybe eke out a couple of extra metres with their driver or get their wedge gapping spot on.
No doubt echoing the sentiments of many golfers, I thought 'I' was largely the problem. If I fixed my swing, then my off-the-rack clubs would start performing as promised.
But what I learned and witnessed in just 30 minutes with Jake Walker, GolfBox’s club-fitting guru, didn’t just change my opinion - it really blew me away.
Jake knows his stuff and is a bit of a legend at interpreting the raw numbers from the studio’s GC Quad launch monitor to derive a picture of the good, the bad and the ugly in any golf swing.
Then, drawing on a wealth of experience and knowledge, he recommends head and shaft combinations that will function well for a player’s particular swing habits.
It’s a blend of science and intuitive feel, but hearing Jake describe in intricate detail how a club’s centre of gravity, shaft and bounce can influence your results out on the course was fascinating stuff.
And after seeing the theory behind custom club fitting become reality in the launch monitor data, a couple of things became clear: the numbers never lie; and it completely validated, in my mind, the value of being properly fitted for clubs rather than taking a punt on off-the-rack clubs.
A custom fitting will unlock the right combination of shaft and club head for every player, but what makes GolfBox’s custom fitting studio so valuable to a golfer’s potential success is the sheer number of shafts and club heads available.
Every leading manufacturer is represented, along with a large assortment of premium boutique club makers, and the studio also features a massive selection of over 400 shafts.
It’s mind-boggling in scale and scope and dwarfs any other facility in both quantity and variety.
But it’s designed with the sole purpose of providing the most perfect and beneficial club and shaft combination for each and every golfer who comes in for a fitting.
That was certainly the outcome when I attended my appointment.
Armed with my trusty seven iron, which was admittedly well past its heyday, I had a quick and somewhat rusty warm-up before Jake stuck some markers on the clubface for the launch monitor to analyse.
Before we got stuck into the session, I was told to have a break between shots so I wouldn’t tire and negatively influence my swing metrics.
With that in mind, I hit five well-spaced shots (I kind of shanked the last one, so we did a retake) so Jake could get an overview of my swing using the key metrics: club path, face angle at impact, club head descent angle, lie angle at impact, club head speed, ball speed, face impact point, spin, and the ball’s apex height and distance.
With iPad in hand, Jake delivered a quick summary of what he saw: there were some good numbers and some not so good numbers.
My swing speed was above average at 90mph with the seven iron and the path angle and face weren’t too far off being square and straight most of the time.
With a 5° descent angle into the ball, Jake explained my swing was on the steep side and my spin rate was under what is considered optimal.
My average distance was around 137m but the thing that stood out most was my alarmingly inconsistent impact pattern, with all five strikes spread far and wide across the face area.
I could certainly feel the inconsistency and the results reflected the chaotic strike patten, with shots tugged well left or sprayed well right of the target.
Jake suggested my irons were too big and had too much offset so after a quick assembly using the Club Conex system – a universal adaptor that can marry any shaft to any club head - he handed me my first combination, uttering the words: “Are you ready to change your game forever?”
First-up was a PXG 0311P seven iron with a Nippon Steel shaft. The head had minimal offset and was a lot smaller than my seven iron, while the shaft was stiff compared to the regular one in the seven iron I was currently using.
The combo instantly clicked and the strike felt, and sounded, much more pure. It all seemed a lot easier and after five shots the launch monitor data told the story.
My dispersion had tightened, distance was longer, spin was spot on around the 6000rpm mark and apex height was just shy of the 30m mark which is considered ideal.
It was a great start, but Jake thought we could improve.
Keeping the same shaft, a Miura 201 iron head was installed – the premium triple-forged Japanese irons I’d heard so much about but had never had the opportunity to test before.
To say I was interested at seeing how they performed was an understatement and after five shots I was mesmerised by how soft and pure the Miura iron was.
It was much, much longer (I maxed one out at 160m) and the dispersion was even tighter, something Jake said would occur due to the Miura 201’s sole grind, which had a small amount of relief taken out just behind the leading edge; with my steep descent angle, it stopped the leading edge grounding out and digging in at impact.
It felt incredible and I was sold, but Jake had one more trick up his sleeve that he thought might suit my game: a Nippon Steel shaft that was 3g lighter.
While it doesn’t sound like much, I could feel the difference and the performance gain was impressive. The new shaft improved control and I hit five consecutive shots almost an identical 148m, with only a maximum 3m left and 4m right miss.
To demonstrate the sensitivity of playing clubs designed for my swing, Jake installed a Miura 501 iron head on the same shaft. But it was immediately more inconsistent and felt much harder to square at impact.
In just 30 minutes, I’d gained 6mph of ball speed (2mph is a great result, according to Jake) and over 12m of distance, and my dispersion had gone from the pattern of a buckshot pellet to a sniper round, with the flight lines on the iPad screen telling the story.
It was a result that I was not expecting, and in a full fitting, lofts and lie angles are adjusted for every club in the bag to optimise the performance of each individual club.
For me it highlighted the advantage of a custom fitting at GolfBox Booragoon and, based on my experience, I’d recommend giving it a try.
Because life’s too short to be playing golf with the wrong set of clubs.
Article by Jamie Martin.