March 20th at 4:30pm central time I embarked on a journey that was everything I knew it would be and more. It was my first ever driver fitting and the first time in my life I was going to be buying a brand new, never used driver.
Let me set a little bit of background on my game before I share the rest of this experience.
I’m 32 years old and I started playing golf at 18. I don’t get to practice or play anywhere near what I would like. I’m a 20 Handicap who really should be much lower (We all say that don’t we).
My first set was a K-Mart special of Pure 1’s. Total cost $110 for everything. That’s where my driver history started.
From there I received a hand me down Taylor Made bubble shaft driver. That thing was top of the line in the 90’s but it was 2005. Better than my K-Mart special but not the best piece of technology.
A few years later I had a buddy who worked in the golf section at Bass Pro Shop (yes they used to have a golf section). That’s when I was introduced to my Taylor Made R580 XD driver with an Aldila NV MLTI shaft. At the time it was only a few years out dated but still a big jump from my Bubble Shaft.
This driver sat in my bag until March 20th when I finally allowed myself to buy something new.
I had been thinking about buying a new driver for a few years now. I had been testing out the M1, M2, M3, M4, Rogue, and a few Titleist’s. I had loved how the Callaway Rogue felt and with money burning in my pocket I couldn’t wait to buy my new toy.
I went to Dicks Sporting goods thinking I could figure out what was best for me. I went there on St Patrick’s Day feeling lucky and after about 40 minutes in the bay I couldn’t do it.
I knew what I was doing was wrong.
For $500 I needed to make sure I was making the best decision for my golf game and not my ego. I stepped aside and called my local driving range/ Pro Shop and scheduled a fitting.
I arrived 30 minutes early for my fitting so I could test out the Ping G400 and the Cobra F8. I hadn’t hit them yet and I wanted to make sure I didn’t leave anything out.
With a brisk 35 degrees I headed outside to the range. The Shaft on the Ping was too weak I was spraying it all over the place when I could actually see it but the Cobra felt as good as the Rogue and just as forgiving.
I went back inside with my new findings and began the most incredible Golfing experience of my life.
The Pro Shop and the Pro
My Driving range/ Pro shop is about 15 minutes away from my house. It’s called Pro Circle Golf Center.
Pro Circle Golf Center is located in Spring Grove, Illinois, 4 miles west of Fox Lake on Rte. 12 and 30 minutes south of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Started in 1958 by Clarence Shastel, Pro Circle Golf Center has grown from a modest home business to a 30 acre full-service Golf Center.
It’s like many driving ranges. Small family owned place with all of the latest equipment competitively priced. Pro Circle Golf Center’s Practice Facility is PGA approved and located in a natural wooded setting.
Grass and mat hitting areas outside and a full practice green area all topped off with a mini golf course so the wife and kids have something to do while Daddy is working on his slice.
The Shop is owned by Gary Shastal now. He is the son of the founder Clarence. Gary is a PGA Member with over 30 Years of Teaching Experience who has studied under many top 50 instructors.
Gary utilizes a Shot Scope technology. This is like a trackman. It scans your body and your swing and tells the pro everything he needs to know to fit you to the best possible equipment for you and your swing.
The system powers up, I take my current driver over to the mat and take a swing.
First thing out of Gary’s mouth “you always that open when you hit your driver or do you not know you’re doing it?” Needless to say I had no idea I was open.
This is the first (1st) selling point I have on getting a fitting from a teaching pro and not going to a big box store like I almost did. Gary stops the fitting and makes a quick correction to my alignment. I’m not lying when I say it was as simple as just changing where my feet where.
I hit a few more shots and I went from a combination of a fade, push, slice straight shot pattern to a consistent draw every single swing. That’s when Gary went to show me why it was working.
He calls me over to the screen to show my clubface at impact. Consistently it was 1.2-5 degrees open at impact.
With my swing and my feet alignment I am now hitting that draw and if I am square I’ll be hitting a solid strike down the middle.
This is the second (2nd) selling point of getting fitted by a pro. He stopped the fitting to fix something I was doing wrong and explain why what I was doing was wrong and how I can improve immediately.
Moving forward on the fitting Gary handed me the Callaway Rogue. I had told him that was the one I was most impressed with so we started testing that one out. He also setup the Ping G400 and the Cobra F8.
A few swings with the Callaway, a few more with the Cobra then the Ping each time I switched he would have his assistant changing the lofts, switching out the shafts really trying to dial in what was right for me. It was at this point that the first candidate fell out of the race.
No matter what changes where made the Ping just didn’t match up for me. Gary says “that one’s just not working for you get it the hell out of here. We are done with that one”.
This is the third (3rd) selling point for seeing a Pro. He identified that one product was not a fit for me regardless of the cost and got it out of my hands. He wants his customers to make the best possible purchase based on their game. He allowed the product to be the sales person not the other way around.
The Championship Round
This brings us down to two. The Callaway Rogue and the Cobra F8.
Now that we have two clubs that are working for me it was time to make the proper adjustments to get the spin down. Both clubs where producing a high amount of spin for me.
What this does is instead of the ball traveling through the air going forward it actually starts to slow down and climb higher into the air losing distance. As a result I was only getting about 10 yards of roll after it landed.
This has been a consistent pain point for me. My launch angle was good with the loft set at 9.5 so we didn’t need to change that at all so now my pro knew it was time to dial in the shafts. My swing speed had been consistently around 100-103 the entire time. I was expecting to be a regular flex but to get the spin rate down we moved into the stiffs.
This brings us to the fourth (4th) selling point for seeing a Pro. Their understanding of shafts and how they will affect your swing and your results is KEY! The shaft is so critical to the success of your drive that if you are not properly equipped you are hurting yourself beyond belief.
Back and forth we went from the F8 to the Rogue. Even to the point of Gary switching heads between the shaft on the Rogue to the shaft that was on the F8 and vice versa.
The spin numbers where coming down but not to the point of what Gary wanted to see. It was at this point where Gary says “I may need to put a tour shaft on that Rogue and if I do you won’t like me very much”. I asked him “why’s that” already knowing the answer. He says “because that’s going to push the cost of the club up two hundred dollars.”
We made the switch anyway just so we knew for sure. This didn’t solve the spin issue by much at all. We even changed out the heads to the Cobra F8 + and the Callaway Rogue Sub Zero. These are smaller heads that should bring the spin rate down but essentially it’s the same club.
This brings us to the fifth (5th) selling point. A good Pro is going to explore every single option to maximize your game. Even if it puts you out of your budget and they know you most likely are not going to spend the money they take the time to try just so you have all the data you need come to the right decision.
Because this last shaft change didn’t solve the spin rate he told me that I need to be playing a low spin ball and that will set me up for success.
The sixth (6th) selling point for getting fitted by a Pro, there is more than one way to improve your game besides the club that’s in your hand. The information he gathered lead him to suggesting another option. The most overlooked part of many amateur players game and that is playing with the right ball for their swing.
The Final Decision
It was time for the big decision. We had dialed in the Cobra F8 to consistently carry around 260 yards with an average roll of 10 yards to sit me at about 270 yards with a reliable draw.
We had to Callaway Rogue setup with a Tour Shaft to put me at a carry of about 263 yards with the same amount of roll that would land me at around 273 yards for about $300 more. Both The Rogue and the F8 felt light and where easy to swing not to mention easy on the eyes.
In the end I chose the Cobra F8 for two reasons. The first is that it was so consistent for me. Even outside before I had it setup for me I would put one after another straight along my target line. This only improved with the fitting turning my ball flight into a constant draw that I can plan for instead of hope for.
The second reason was the price. 3 yards is not worth $300. I went from a carry of 240 and a roll out up to 250 with my old driver to a carry of 260 and a roll out of 270 yards.
20+ yards gained overnight and this doesn’t even take into count the ball I should be using as mentioned earlier. This brings me to my seventh (7th) and final point. A good pro fitter is going to sell you what is best for you and not their bottom dollar. Gary easily could have put a weaker shaft on the Cobra and made the Callaway Rogue so much more impressive that I would have had to bite the bullet and buy the better club.
He didn’t do that. He stuck to his morals and put me in the best position to succeed. I look forward to seeing how this one change in my bag leads to improved scores, more fairways, a lower handicap and more fun on course.
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