Data Driven At Club Champion
By Rhett Arens
Swinging like a PGA TOUR Player probably isn’t going to happen for 99% of us, but if Club Champion has any say in it, we will all be given the best chance possible. The Club Champion Edina franchise has the technology, it has the highly trained professionals and it has a process ready to analyze your baseline, collect data on swing mechanics, select clubs that optimizes those mechanics and close the deal. They will send you home with a custom set of clubs made to your specific swing. That may sound like hyperbole, but advanced analytics on club head speed, launch angle, spin rate, attack angle, ball velocity, face angle and club path roll-up into a metric called ‘smash factor.’ This is the point in the process where the specifications on best fit club parameters soon emerge.
Those analytics have come compliments of the latest in TrackMan technology, which is continuously evolving using the latest Doppler radar principles and leading-edge sensor integration. This latest technology iteration delivers an accuracy rate within one foot at 100 yards. All that hardware would be a moot point if it weren’t for the expertise of PGA Professional, Master Fitter George Smith and his ability to interpret and communicate the results to his customers. As George likes to point out, “Numbers don’t lie.” By the way, George clearly benefits from his own knowledge, which is evident in the Minnesota PGA Section Tournament results where he still rocks it at age 60.
The term “advanced analytics” has become part of the sports lexicon the past few years. It has changed the way golf instructors and coaches make decisions (not to mention 30 major league baseball teams). High spin rates impact distance, not surprisingly measuring exit velocity predicts carry and launch angle predicts roll-out. On a common sense level this all makes sense but until recently the data interactions were not rolled into a single swing picture. From that picture, the pro’s at Club Champion can begin to choose shaft stiffness, face angle, grip width and left to right club-head weighting. Controlling those variables controls severity of draw and fade and the ball height apex – all the better for sticking those greens with the long irons.
Club Champion is the #1 premium club fitter in the U.S. with 62 retailers spread across 30+ states. The Edina franchise opened three years ago is managed by George and located at the Southdale Square Shopping Center. No surprise that George has built a reputation as a fitting guru. Club Champion puts their Master Fitters through a rigorous one month, on-site training course at their headquarters in Chicago. Known as ‘the club fitters’ in town, they offer the widest selection of clubs, grips and shafts anywhere. A key differentiator is the largest selection of shafts in the industry, which plays a huge role in the overall ball flight control. In fact, a Golf Digest study found that 8 out of 9 Club Champion customers gained an average of 21 yards off the tee and lowered their scores by as much as 6 strokes per round using custom clubs combined with custom fitting to optimize performance.
In addition to fitting and equipment sales, their certified builders also specialize in club repair, rebuilding and customization. Services offered include: re-shafting, re-gripping, wedge grinding, swing weighting, loft and lie adjustments on all brands and club types, rat gluing of metal wood heads, frequency matching, Face angle adjustments, SST PUREing of shafts, ferrule replacement, shaft extension and trimming, custom stamping, custom painting and anything else that can be done to a club. You name it… they can do it. Most of it is done right on the premises at their well-organized and fully equipped lab.
George is proud to detail the step-by-step process that is part of the Club Champion magic. Communication is absolutely key and it starts with an excellent pre-visit questionnaire sent via email and returned before your visit. Instructions on preparation (what to wear, what to bring, etc.) also come in advance, which keeps appointments as productive as possible for everyone. Once your baseline performance is established through TrackMan, modifications to various club options are made and you hit another round where the results are measured again and compared back to the baseline. This can be repeated with a variety of club configurations thanks to Club Champions quick change adaptors and eventually all the data groupings are compared to show cause and effect. I was stunned to learn shaft weighting and stiffness figured so importantly into speed, spin rate and ball flight height.
Club Champion could be the game changer you have been looking for to take your handicap to the next level. Get your appointment on the calendar, because nothing will convince you like an actual fitting session with George or Jesse. Not sure if you’re hitting the sweet spot? TrackMan knows and the data explains why. Maybe this is why George is fond of saying, “Trust me, Trackman is brutally honest.” Put your trust in George, he’ll gather the data and drive your game to new levels.