Club Champion Golf – One Year Later

By R.J. Smiley

One year ago I wrote a story about a new Twin Cities golf business, Club Champion Golf. Club Champion Golf is a highly technical, state of the art golf club fitting business. Each of their highly trained club fitters has been through weeks of training and are truly professionals when it comes to getting the proper clubs in the hands of their clients.

Skeptic that I am, before I wrote last year’s story, I called my old college golf teammate who is a club fitter in Palm Springs, CA. When I mentioned Club Champion, he stopped me in mid-sentence. “They are the BEST!” he said. “Club Champion is rated among the top club fitters in the country. But, the real endorsement for Club Champion Golf is the fact that all of the big name golf club manufacturers allow them to use their components to build golf clubs. Club Champion has shafts they offer to their customers that PING or Titleist can’t even get.”

One year later, my assignment was to find a player who had actually been fitted and purchased clubs from Club Champion Golf. What was his experience? Did custom fitted golf clubs actually improve their game?

My research quickly led me to Mike McManus. Mike is a retired 66-year old avid golfer. Since retirement, Mike has been playing Bellwood Oaks Golf Course south of Hastings almost every day. Mike has been playing golf with the same group of guys for years. Mike says he does not maintain a USGA Handicap because he always plays with the same group of guys. “I just play with the same few players so we know how we play and the strokes have not really changed much – until this summer.”

“I was struggling with my game, trying to get better. Then I saw an ad in Tee Times Magazine about fitting golf clubs at Club Champion Golf. I thought about it for a short time and I called them. The rest is history! They told me that it would cost $350 to come in and have them go through my bag. You know, test each club to see if it was right for me.”

On the phone George Smith, store manager and master clubfitter, told Mike, “If you come in and we go through your bag and fit you for new clubs, you do not have to purchase them now or ever. You can wait until you have saved up for the purchase of the clubs, but the work will have been completed.”

Mike went on to explain, “Never have I had such an education in such a short time. George spent almost two hours with me hitting shots with various combinations of club heads and shafts. They have over 35,000 different combinations, you know. The TrackMan machine recorded a huge number of statistics that I did not even know existed. None of this stuff was done when I was fitted before. I learned about optimization, club head speed, spin rate, smash factor, ball speed and launch angle.”

“Every time we changed a club head or a shaft we went through a series of shots. The best two and the worst two were thrown out then averaged; compared against the other combinations of shaft and club head. There was no rush and the club decision was based on facts logged in the TrackMan computer.”

Now lets look at Mike’s scoring results. Mike told me that in the past he would rarely break 80. Most of his scores were in the mid 80’s or a little higher. This season Mike is having more scores in the 70’s than the 80’s. He boasts that 86 is his worst round of the year. Mike says that he is hitting his irons one club farther, but the complements come from his playing partners. One playing partner stated, “Mike with that new custom driver you are hitting it at least 20 yards farther.”

There are two reasons that I quoted only one player using the fitted clubs from Club Champion Golf. First, I went to and read the customer reviews from the Minneapolis store and other outlets from around the country. Golfers raved about the fitting process and the results with the clubs.

Authors note: Last year Club Champion Golf gave me a free driver fitting and a new driver for writing the story. The first two rounds with my new driver I shot my age. One week later I went back and paid for my iron fitting. Then, I paid for the clubs. My handicap is down from 5.7 last August to 3.3 today – despite poor putting!