By Kevin Sebulski
Dave Castellan, our Director of Golf Instruction at Skyline Hotels &Resorts, and I were fortunate enough to be invited to the Motion Analysis Technology by TaylorMade (MATT) Performance Lab in Woodbridge to be custom fit for new golf clubs in April.
As we walked in we were greeted by Cam Jacobs, who manages all custom fitting for TaylorMade Canada. Cam gave me and Dave a quick to tour of the facility then introduced me to Phil McNally. Phil and I would work on my fitting for the next two hours.
After a few minutes of stretching, it was time for me to attach reflective markers to all parts of my body. The markers went on my shoes, my knees, waist, torso, head, elbows, wrists, top of the club, middle of the club and club head. In other words, everywhere! Six separate high-speed cameras captured the motion of the reflectors and produced a 3D image of both me and my swing. The cameras are tied into a launch monitor that gathers even more information and ensures that the clubs I am being fitted into will be the absolute best for me.
Phil was nice enough to let me start with a six iron and told me my first ball wouldn’t count. Good thing, because it took a swing or two to get used to all the reflectors attached to my body. The first try, I (ahem) rolled the ball off the tee.
After hitting four balls into the screen it was time to look at the numbers and images. We analyzed ball speed, spin rate, and launch angle to determine which club heads would be best for me. I wanted a bit more forgiving club heads so Phil put me into SpeedBlade irons. My swing speed averaged 145 km/h which put me between regular and stiff shafts. I tend to hang back a bit (leave weight on my back leg) at impact, which leads to a high ball flight, so Phil fit me into Project X 5.5 shafts. These shafts are designed to lower ball flight, which is perfect for me.
Next up was the driver fitting. For some, this is the best part. For me, it was trying to find a driver/shaft combination that would finally lower my ball flight. All last year I struggled off the tee, hitting a lot of “woos” or “Ric Flairs”. Either way, they don’t go far. We experimented a lot with different club head and shaft combinations, trying to get a consistent ball flight and feel. Phil recommended a SLDR 430 club head, which tends to spin the ball less than the SLDR 460. A little less spin helped me lower the ball flight and keep the ball a lot straighter. After trying about six different shafts, Phil put in a Matrix RUL 60. What a difference! The ball flight, the spin rate, the feel and the distance…everything came together. My ball flight lowered to where we were happy, the spin rate dropped (no more “woos”), the ball felt soft coming off the club and I gained 24 yards off the tee. Getting a driver custom fit was definitely worth the effort.
Next were fairway woods. Those were easy. Put a similar shaft into the clubs and see if I like them, which I did. Then we worked on my wedges. I wanted two wedges that would complement my new SpeedBlade irons, which went up to 50 degrees in loft. We settled on a 56 degree (bent to 55 degree) and a 60 degree Tour Preferred wedge, with the same Project X 5.5 shafts, giving me two options to get up and down around the green.
Even putter fitting is now based on technology. Cameras capture where the ball hits on the putter and how much side spin, back spin and forward spin is imparted on the ball. We didn’t have to test too many putters before I found one that both Phil and I liked, a center-shafted Spider Mallet putter. A center-shafted putter is face-balanced, with equal amounts of weight in the club head’s heel and toe. This type of club suits someone like me as I like to keep my eyes directly above the ball and take the putter straight back and swing straight through the ball. It’s easier to keep a center-shafted, face-balanced club head from drifting right or left when hitting straight through the ball.
And that was it; two plus hours went by in what seemed like 30 minutes. After playing my new clubs a few times since the start of the season, I believe it was time very well spent. The technology really does work and the driver is the best I have ever hit –and I really do hit it further than any of my previous drivers. My irons for the most part fly straight (operator error when they do not) and my wedges feel just like one of my irons.
As a golf professional, I’m asked all the time, “I’m in the market for a new set of clubs, what should I do?” I’ve said it for years, and after being at TaylorMade’s MATT lab I now say it with a renewed sense of passion – do yourself a favour, and get fit for your clubs. It makes a huge difference in your game.
Kevin Sebulski is the Director of Golf at Horseshoe Resort.