Big Box Store Fittings! Are they Accurate and Helpful?
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I had a fitting at GG recently ... I think it depends on the knowledge of the fitter you happen to get. I knew what clubs I wanted based on hitting everything ... the guy that helped me was great - he spent about an hour trying all the different shafts the Mizuno Optimizer recommended. I like all the dynamic fitting methods they use for length & lie, as opposed to just a static fitting. I never hit so many balls in a short amount of time - I was whipped when I got finished - but wound up with irons far better suited to my game than just guessing. If you're looking for a serious fitting, sure I'd go with a specialist, but for the basic fitting, GG did ok by me...
Take it with a grain of salt, but I did not have a good experience at the PGA Superstore. Full disclosure, I'm a high-handicapper so my swing is anything but consistent. I also did not know very much about the fitting process other than that the lie may be adjusted. I was unaware of all of the shafts, grip sizes, and club length adjustments that could have been made. In hindsight, I wish I had educated myself a bit more.
Prior to my fitting, I hit every iron under the sun and found I liked the Ping G20s the best. I went to PGA Superstore to be fitted. The "fitting" consisted of the guy having me hit a few other suggestions, trying to sell me on some Taylormade RBZ which I didn't like, and then when I was dead set on the G20s, taking three (yes three) swings on a lie board and him telling me "you need 1-3 degrees flat. You should be purple dot (1.5 flat) so you can bend them a bit later if you want." That was it. No static measurements. No suggested shafts. Nothing.
Turns out the clubs were wrong and I had them properly fit at Ping who made the changes free of charge.
Like the poster above said, I think it depends on the fitter you get, but also it is up to you to know what to expect in a fitting. If you know what to expect, you'll be able to tell right away if the guy fitting you knows what he's doing.
I didn't have a very satisfying experience at the nearby Golfsmith store when shopping for G20s. They too seemed to wish I'd buy TaylorMade, and then when I made clear I didn't want 'em the guy did a very cursory 'fitting' including about four swings at a lie board (maybe the tape is expensive). That showed I could use a few degrees more upright lie, which matched the static results from the Ping web app. However, after 'consulting' with a coworker (supervisor?) he came back and let me know that I would be just fine with the Black Dot clubs I was doing the fitting with. I balked and insisted on having them order Blue Dots and the clubs have been working great for me.
Now, this was one person's experience in one store with one employee, so other folks experiences may be very different. I, however, will go to an actual professional fitter for all future purchases that I want to be fitted for.
May sound silly, but it's your money ... it's important that you get clubs you like the looks of & not be pressured into getting something you may not be happy with. I hit everything on the market over a period of a few weeks, I could have gone with several mfg's - in the end, I went with a brand I like, like the looks of them, and especially the SOUND of them compared to other clubs. I think it's a good idea to go into a fitting with it narrowed down to a couple clubs you like, and take it from there ...