Golf fitting that gave hope to the hopeless

Watching the U.S. Open today — in between editing news pages for Metro’s weekend paper, of course — I know my swing will never have the velocity of the world’s best players. Heck, I won’t ever even have the swing speed of my weekend playing partners like Sean Stoneback, who lash out at the ball with an organized destructive quality.

But as Sean and other guys often tell me, I need greater ball-striking speed if I ever want to improve on my high handicap. As a guy that breaks 100 about five or six times a year (out of about 25 rounds), I sure as hell need to improve my scoring.

So it was with great intrigue and hope that I agreed to check out Philadelphia’s newest addition to the golf community, club fitting and building company Club Champion in Bala Cynwyd. Their staff accepted me and my old sticks with open arms, apparently having seen hackers like me before.

I walked in with all my clubs, from my 10-year-old Calloway Big Bertha to my who-knows-how-old, secondhand Gary Player iron set. In between those dinosaurs, two equally-old “Perfect Club” hybrids and my only newish club, an Adams hybrid 3-wood, shared the space under my arms with my two most prized possessions: 51-degree and 46-degree Cleveland wedges.

“You know, most people bring the clubs in a golf bag,” company vice president of marketing Matt Seigel joked.

I laughed and it hopefully showed these guys that I was a true novice when it comes to club fitting — as if my clubs didn’t give that away a minute later to one of the Bala Cynwyd shop’s master fitters, Steve Harrow.

After lining up my clubs, Harrow asked, “Which clubs do you want to do first?”

I wanted to blurt out: “Driver! Obviously, the driver!”

But I had a feeling that was the wrong answer. And Harrow quickly confirmed my intuition.

“How many times a round do you hit your irons?” he asked. He doesn’t want to know. But bottom line: I swing my driver 13-14 times a round, my irons: ah, many times.

I was soon standing in front of the coolest machine in sports today: Trackman. The technology that can chart what seems like countless statistics about your real-life swing (because you’re actually swinging full-speed with real golf balls).

After some practice swings, I was pounding six-irons into the computerized drap on the wall (pictured). 

Then, Harrow mixed and matched some different club heads and shafts. I hit about four or five balls with three different types of heads: Razor X, Mizuno 800 and Redline.

The last two brought great improvements in average carry, but the Redline not only added 20 yards of carry but also increased ball speed, length and smash factor (which is a less obvious but equally important stat.

Harrow described fitted clubs as a tailored suit compared to one off the rack. I left Club Champion’s facility feeling even more confident, even if I haven’t yet purchased a set of those Redline irons. One of Harrow’s simple, yet astute observations was that my Gary Players are too long for my stance.

So instead of standing farther from the ball, I decided to start choking up on iron shots, particularly 4-, 5- and 6-irons.

The fitting is already paying off. In one of the two annual “Sharkey Shootout” scrambles I played at the Jersey Shore shortly after the fitting
, I stroked lots of solid approach shots and my team finished first at 6-under. Thanks Club Champion, can’t wait to see how many times I break 100 once I get around to buying some fitted clubs. (It’ll have to wait a bit until I’m clear of my wedding this month.)



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.