How to Buy Custom Clubs
In the past, custom golf clubs were strictly for low handicappers and tour pros. Nowadays, everyone can afford a $99 fitting and have their clubs customized. Or for the same price as used (brand name) golf clubs, they can order a complete set of customized golf clubs that is optimized and matched for their swing.
What is the difference between customized golf clubs and off-the-shelf clubs?
When you buy custom golf clubs, you work with a club fitter that will measure you up and build you a set of irons that will be matched to you and your swing, They will take a set of irons 'off the shelf' and customize it by changing the lie angle which affects how the leading edge of the club face sits on the ground. In order for you to hit the sweet spot, the leading edge must be parallel to the ground when you setup and address the ball.
When you buy golf clubs that are 'off-the-shelf', you are buying a set of irons that have a zero lie angle which are optimized to players that are average height. In most cases, players will adjust their setup to ensure the club sits on the ground square.
Am I ready for customized golf clubs?
Before putting this page together, I visited the guys at the Callaway Performance Center for a club fitting session. I brought my current set of irons with me to have them tested out but you can go empty handed as well. With my own set, they got me to hit some balls on their simulator and they watched for the ball flight, launch angle, club head speed and ball speed. They also took a tape measure to my height and wrist-to-floor length. Next they took my 7-iron and measured the lie angle which was 0 degrees.
Based on my height and wrist-to-floor length, they recommended no shaft changes but lie angle had to be -1 degrees. They explained that with my 'off-the-shelf' golf clubs, I was probably compensating by leaning forward on address or raising my hands. This may have caused some unexplained shanks where I was hitting the hosel on impact.
As you can see from my club fitting session, my set of irons were just -1 degrees off. This could have caused some of the unexplained shanks that I had all year or having the tendency to come down too steep with my irons. In minutes, they adjusted the lie angle for me. Have I noticed a difference? I have. With my customized golf clubs, I now hit more straighter and have less shots that I lose left or right. To me, it was a well spent $99. I was amazed at how small the adjustment was, however it had improved my shots considerably.
Where to Buy Customized Golf Clubs?
One thing to take note about buying custom golf clubs is that the majority of iron heads are made in China. Even the brand names like Callaway, Ping, Titleist and Taylormade have their factories in China.
When I'm buying custom golf clubs, I choose Gigagolf because I've been happy with the quality and looks of the clubs. The clubs they carry look and feel like brand name clubs but at a fraction of the cost. My last set was the TRX v.11 irons which looks exactly like my Taylormade Burner 2.0 irons. I bought it as a result of wanting a second set of irons to travel with, that would play and feel like my Burner set but not at the same cost. A lot of golfers that I met when travelling. told me of their horror stories of clubs being dropped and wrangled in transit or airlines losing their clubs.
Now when I travel, I bring my TRX irons instead and they look and play the same as my regular set.
Update: Recently I spoke with a club fitter and he told me there is a "no-bend" list that club fitters use to determine if they should bend clubs or not. Because they are fearful for breakage, club fitters will not change the lie angle of clubs that are on this list. (eg. Taylormade Burner 2.0 irons are on this list).
The reason companies like Gigagolf will bend their irons is because they manufacture their own irons. If breakage occurs, they will replace the club head before shipping it out to you.
When it comes to club head speed, it is important that you select the right shaft flexibility. Shafts come in various flexes and depending on how fast you swing, your club fitter would recommend a particular shaft flex to you. If you are a senior player, the right shaft flex for you is either a 'A' or a 'R'. If you take the club back and swing easy then choose a shaft flex of 'A'. Otherwise if you swing faster and with more aggression then choose a 'R'. Lady players should choose a 'L' and average players should choose a 'R'. Fast swingers or intermediate players should choose a 'S'.
Update: Some golf stores have been recommending ladies to buy clubs with senior flex shafts. Shafts marked with an 'A' are not equivalent to "L". Other than the flexibility, these clubs are longer and heads are heavier than the clubs for ladies.
Aside from the lie angle, there are a number of adjustments and selections you can make such as the shaft length, shaft flexibility and golf grip type. All of these adjustments make a regular golf club, custom to your height, swing and strength.
Opinion: TRX 460 Driver
I don't know how many drivers you own but I personally have 4. I somehow like Taylormade drivers and so, I have 2 RBZ, 1 Burner Draw and 1 Burner. My next driver may very well be the new TRX 460 custom driver from Gigagolf because it resembles the Taylormade SLDR driver.
The TRX 460 driver is new and has a center of gravity that is lower and farther forward than any driver they have ever made. This allows players to launch the ball higher with less spin, which means longer off the tee and straighter. The forged VFT face causes balls to fly faster and has more forgiveness on missed hits. The sliding weight makes it fast and easy to tune the ball flight. Slide the weight toward the heel to create a draw bias or lock it down on the toe if a fade is what you like.
The TRX 460 driver is only $109 base and is completely customizable with shaft options, golf grip and shaft length.