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Tee Times Magazine | Minneapolis/St. Paul

Breezy Point

Local Golf
November 22, 2017

Better Fit. Better Clubs. Better Game.
By R.J. Smiley

Last month, I described my experience being fitted for the "perfect driver" at the new Club Champion fitting studio located north east of Southdale mall. The perfect club is determined by a certified club fitter using Trackman software. The fitter uses a trial process with more than 35,000 hittable head and shaft combinations to find the perfect club for you. As I think about determining my "perfect driver" in retrospect, selecting the best golf club is like finding an object using the hotter and/or colder method. The shot statistics on each new combination of shaft and clubhead are recorded in a computerized table comparing one combination against the other previous combinations. Then the best two or three are fine-tuned to perfection. One thing is for sure; the fitting specialists at Club Champion have been through extensive training at the company headquarters in Chicago. They are updated on the latest changes in club and shaft technology by a weekly videoconference and they understand their trade. My old friend, George Smith, a seasoned Twin Cities PGA professional, is office manager and a master fitter with Club Champion.

My new driver arrived at my home exactly 12 days after the fitting. The PING, 2016 G LS Tec Driver with a Fujikura Pro XLR8 51 regular shaft and a MCC Plus4 Align - standard - 60 Rib grey grip, was the perfect driver for my swing and strength at this point of my life.. A new golf club, like puppies and babies is always beautiful.

While I was still under the ether from all the numbers describing launch angle, spin rate and clubhead speed, to name a few; I took my new driver to the back nine at Northwood Hills Golf Course (the course I once owned) where I know the exact carry on every tee shot. At the fitting, I was told to just swing with my natural swing; don't try to make the ball do something by altering my golf path.

THE RESULTS WERE REMARKABLE! Not only did the ball carry 10 to 12 yards farther than my old PING driver, the ball hit the fairway and then bounded forward rolling out an additional 15 to 25 yards.

Authors Note: Even though I have been a very low handicapper my entire career, my ball has never rolled out. My tee shots especially into the wind just landed soft and did not roll. What a difference!

With only 9-holes and a few shots on the range with my new driver, I played an important senior 8-Man match at Valleywood the next Tuesday. I was amazed, I putted for eagle on #4 with a 5-iron second shot and another eagle on 9 with a 22° rescue second. With a strong 73, I shot my age for the first time all year. Two days later I shot 74 at Baker National in a Senior Tour event. Shooting my age twice in the same week with a brand new driver says it all.

The following Wednesday I called George Smith and set up an appointment to have a fitting for new irons and rescue clubs. The first fitting for my driver was comped from Club Champion Golf for doing the story. The iron and rescue club fitting - I paid out of my pocket! To say that I am a believer goes without saying.

I have been a PING man for years, but after extensive testing with various clubheads from other manufactures, the choice was obvious. The new G400 irons were by far the best fit for me. With my old PING irons my average 6-iron carry was 159 yards. With the new G400's my carry distance was 169 yards. That is a full club increase over my previous set.

The shafts were a different story. George must have tested at least ten different shafts. The fact that I am 6'3" tall made George test several shafts that were a ½" longer. We found two shafts that were about equal in distance and ball flight. Then George went back to standard length shafts to test. When he fitted the Fujikura Vista Pro Iron 70 stiff into the G400 head, we knew we had found the perfect irons for me. Higher ball flight and no drop-off in distance.

The G400 have a beautiful compact head and the feel is perfect. The impact has a soft feel and the ball seems to explode off the face. The G400 might be the best irons ever made.

I can't wait for my new irons to arrive on my front doorstep.

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