The trend at Edwin Watts Golf in Martinez for several years has been customizing golf clubs on high-tech devices, said Andy Schrader, the manager of the store on Bobby Jones Expressway.
The store’s newest such machine, a Foresight Launch Monitor, is no larger than a shoe box but costs about $5,000. While a customer hits golf balls into a net, the device analyzes the ball’s spin, speed, distance and launch angle, Schrader said.
“By using that, we can help determine, for example, is a 10.5-degree driver better than a 9-degree driver for you,” he said, “or is a regular flex better than a stiff flex in the shaft?”
Nine of 10 drivers sold at the store are custom fitted on the machine, which is used by customers more than 10 times daily.
“It’s very rare anymore that somebody buys a driver or even anything without us going through a fitting to make sure it’s correct,” Schrader said.
Goshen Plantation Golf Club owner Spike Kelley focuses on custom fitting his patron’s clubs by using a loft/lie machine that bends iron heads for a more accurate swing and an improved golf game.
Kelley compared the technique with a suit being tailored.
“It’s really an ongoing fitting as things change, as you improve or as you age,” Kelley said.
The bulk of customers opt for the service as opposed to buying a new set of clubs, he said.
At Bonaventure Discount Golf on Bobby Jones Expressway, owner L.D. Waters goes strictly on traditional measurements if a customer requests anything more than a standard club.
Waters measures the distance between a golfer’s wrist from the floor and then charts the dimensions to determine what type of golf club is needed. That system, he said, gives Waters about a 90 percent accuracy rate.
“If 100 people walked in my door, two of them out of the 100 might not fit a standard golf club,” said Waters, whose business is made predominately from standard club sales.
At one time — about 15 years ago — Waters said he did offer customers a machine for club specifications but found they were using the equipment more for a driving range, so he’s since stored it away in his garage.
“I figured out I wasn’t doing anything in the world except giving them something to do on a rainy day,” he said.