Golfers who want the ultimate club, swing and body makeover should head to Precision Golf's incredible set-up
Custom fitting has to be the most abused term in golf. It describes everything from retailers who watch golfers smash a few shots into a net and sell "off-the-rack" equipment, to the game's biggest brands who have experts fitting equipment to their global tour superstars. Right in the middle of that scale are the pros who fit and sell equipment from several brands, but even these guys are shackled by the components each company offers.
In a perfect world, custom fitting would be completely brand agnostic, and done in a lab that's led by technology and performance – not by how much cash a sale puts in the till, or by the components a manufacturer chooses to offer. Imagine, then, a 5,500sq ft custom fitting lab that houses five TrackMan launch monitors, three fitting bays and two simulators, along with a 200sq ft putting green and access to the world's most powerful shaft comparison database.
We're talking a lab where every club is built on site and where shaft puring (aligned on its natural axis) is standard practice... a place where golfers can choose from Europe's largest selection (16 brands) of drivers, fairways, hybrids, irons, wedges and putter, and match any head with their best option from 600 different shafts. Imagine, too, if that fitting studio offered lessons with a European Tour coach, access to a chiropractor and biomechanics expert, a fully equipped gym along with a personal trainer to optimise every area of your health and game... and all that under one roof.
Sound like something Carlsberg might make? Actually, that's exactly what's on offer at Precision Golf – probably Europe's ultimate golf performance lab, where they can take every part of your body, your swing and your bag and improve it. Precision Golf's owners, Simon Cooper and James Davey, have spent a million pounds creating this centre in West By Fleet, Surrey. Colin Montgomerie's a fan. European Tour player Gary Orr trusted them to get him fit for the Staysure Tour. And thousands of golfers have walked away from their doors not only with equipment best suited to them, but also knowing a bit more about why it's good for their game. This is how they work...
Below: Precision Golf's Simon Cooper (left) and James Davey have set out to create the ultimate set up
Precision Golf insist a club fitting is best done indoors in a controlled environment, and they don't like golfers being influenced by ball flight. Their fitting bays are longer than standard, which allows TrackMan 4 launch monitors to gather extra ball data from every shot hit. And a big part of the fitting process, they say, is analysing a golfer's current equipment. It helps identify performance- related issues and understand where faults may lie.
Over the years they've developed £10k workbenches, located in each fitting bay, which allow the team's fitters to analyse shaft frequencies, measure loft and lies, shaft length, face angles and swingweight for every single customer who's fitted. Each bench also has direct access into the world's largest shaft comparison database (which measures 2,000 different points on every shaft analysed), so golfers can instantly see how the shaft they're testing differ.
These guys take fitting very seriously, so each fitter (there's a team of four) is allotted two full-bag fittings (three-and-a- half hours) a day. Driver, iron and wedge fittings vary between one to two hours and each get the same treatment as a full bag fit. The level of detail even extends to golfers hitting the ball they use on the golf course during the fitting. Precision Golf like to fit the shaft first and then play with heads.
They say weight is absolutely paramount when fitting today and liken the process to a Michelin star restaurant giving a customer all the ingredients needed to make their signature dish, but the customer still struggling to make the food because they don't have the knowledge to bring the dish together.
Their expertise and massive range of options mean that less than five per cent of the equipment sold comes from "stock" options. That tells us that fitting is just as relevant for average club golfers as it for elite players, as every golfer and their swing is unique and never mass market. Customers regularly come from as far away as Belgium, and no-one is put off by a three-week lead time as nothing is held in stock, and every club needs to be built in the facility's state-of- the-art workshop.
Unlike most other fitting outlets you can't take the cost of a fitting session (from £60-£275) from the value of the products you buy, either. They value their time and there simply isn't enough profit in the equipment to cover the cost of such a detailed fitting session. The guys know they're 30 per cent more expensive than an off-the-rack option, yet the business has grown 20 per cent in two years and their diaries are not far from capacity.
Iron and wedge fittings are popular, but thanks to investing in a new state-of-the-art putter fitting suite recently, flatstick fits now make up 20 per cent of their business. And to make sure putter fitting capabilities are just as good as full-swing sessions, they use a new CAPTO Analysis System, which attaches to the top of a putter's grip.
It captures 30 different putting parameters, working at 400 frames per second and is accurate to 0.1 degrees. The data is beamed on to 70-inch TVs so you can see and understand the analysis. And, like the rest of the bag, there's plenty of choice – 3,000 demo putter head and shaft combinations before factoring in grip choices.
Many club golfers pay little attention to biomechanics, or only visit a chiropractor when something goes wrong. But Precision Golf see Stuart Robinson (a qualified chiropractor) as a perfect link between a golf coach and physical trainer. For many golfers it means being able to consistently produce the movements they and their coach desire, which can be really difficult to monitor across multiple disciplines which aren't based under the same roof. Robinson is a scratch player at Walton Heath and St Andrews, so he knows a thing or two about getting the swing in shape.
There'd be no point in creating one of the best performance labs in Europe without kitting it out with a first-class coach. Stuart Cartwright is the resident coach at Precision Golf, and he's a fully qualified PGA pro who's worked with Steve Webster and Mark Davis on tour and is currently Nick Dougherty's coach and caddie. Coaching is carried out inside on a TrackMan simulator with 4D motion analysis technology. And, of course, he's just as dedicated to getting the best out of your game as the fitters, personal trainer and chiropractor.
No modern Tour pro heads for the course nowadays without spending some time in the gym. Club golfers who want to reach their optimum on the course and protect against injuries really should be doing the same. Kate Davey, who's completed an Ironman race along with other seriously tough endurance challenges, is Precision's personal trainer, offering nutrition information as well as tailored sessions in the fully equipped gym. Like the rest of the Precision Golf philosophy everything is set up to educate, inspire and help you become the fittest, healthiest version of you.