Golf is tough enough. Why make it more difficult by playing with equipment that doesn’t really fit you? Nine out of 10 of us do, according to a 2011 study by Sports & Leisure Research Group. That’s like choosing to run a marathon in untied, incorrectly sized sneakers.
The solution? Work with a good club-fitter to select a set designed specifically for you and your game. Correctly matched clubs can absolutely help every golfer regardless of handicap.
Fitting used to be an esoteric tour-level secret, but in recent years it’s gone mainstream. And one of the best club-fitters, Charles Williams, resides in the Coachella Valley. Williams’ skills landed his shop, Golf Fitting Studio at Marriott’s Shadow Ridge Golf Club in Palm Desert, on Golf Digest’s 2017 list of the top 100 elite fitting facilities in America.
VIDEO: Watch how Charles Williams has helped Lisa Winkler’s game with the correctly matched golf clubs.
Williams loves it when struggling players astound themselves. He relishes that moment when, after an equipment tweak and a suggestion or two, the golfers he fits suddenly start hitting the kind of shot there’s only one word for: “Wow!”
Golfers like Lisa Winkler, for example. She took up the game about four years ago and developed into a serious player with a 19 handicap. Winkler competes in — and has won —on the Senior Jones division on the Palm Springs branch of the Golf Channel Am Tour.
However, the clubs Winkler has been using for the last 18 months came from a national golf specialty store, where she chose her sticks, unaided, after little more than a couple of waggles and a whack or two in the hitting bay. Turns out those clubs were too short for her, by about half an inch.
Williams pinpointed the problem after watching Winkler hit a few balls on the range and explained to her that, in order to compensate for her too-short clubs, she had fallen into the habit of standing too crouched, too close to the ball, and with too much of her weight on her toes.
Lisa Winkler bought her first set of clubs that turned out to be too short for her.
With a longer shaft and a couple of small modifications in her address position and swing, Winkler was standing taller with better balance and her arms more fully extended. The resulting difference in her striking ability was immediate and dramatic — Winkler launched the ball an additional 30 yards with her favorite club, the 7-iron.
Williams has been fitting full-time for the past five years at his studio. His goal is to fit his players “with equipment that caters to them, so they don’t have to work so hard” to get results that rekindle their love for the game.
“Sometimes their equipment is so far off it amazes me how they can still try playing,” Williams says.
A PGA professional and former teaching pro, Williams, 38, has had the game in his blood all his life. He grew up in a house on a course in Rochester, New York, and didn’t have to wait long to get his own hands on some custom-fit sticks: His grandfather, with whom he would regularly hit balls in the backyard, cut a set down to size for him when he was kindergarten age.
“Then, when I was 8, my mom started taking me to Oak Hill Country Club for lessons with the great Craig Harmon,” Williams recalls. “That really got my game going.”
For each fitting, Williams gathers pertinent information from a questionnaire the player fills out and from the data his TrackMan Golf Launch Monitor generates. But his real tools are his eyes and ears. He conducts his fittings in a dedicated section of the practice range at Shadow Ridge because, as he says, “outside is crucial.”
Golf requires room to roam. “By having my players hit outside, I’m able to observe their actual ball flight,” Williams says. “And hear the shot too, because sound is feel, feel is sound.”
His goal is to fit his players “with equipment that caters to them, so they don’t have to work so hard” to get results that rekindle their love for the game.
For more information about club-fitting services with Charles Williams at The Fitting Studio at Marriott’s Shadow Ridge Golf Club, or to arrange a fitting, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fitting Studio at Shadow Ridge Golf Club, 9002 Shadow Ridge Road,
Palm Desert. 760-674-2737; golffittingstudios.com