GOLFERS ARE an odd mix. Almost without exception, we all have our own idiosyncrasies, habits and routines, some of them consciously, some sub-consciously. Golf is a game that demands routine to become consistent and to generate more reliability in striking the ball.
Tour professionals use a switch in their routine to implement change in their swing, their address position or even their alignment. In order to 'feel' good over the ball, it's imperative to address it the same way every time, the result of a good pre-shot routine.
Just as every golfer's habits vary, so do our attitudes towards change. Many of us - from club member to Tour pro - are happy to change equipment on a regular basis in the hope of finding the the perfect game. It might mean adifferent-shaped driver or iron head or slightly heavier putter.
Throughout my career, I have been one those players far happier to resist change and play with the clubs I know and trust. When playing the Tour, I'm forever asked by the friendly and enthusiastic staff on the respective Tour vans to 'try this new driver', 'have you seen these new shafts?,' 'we've got a cracking wedge to show you' or 'so-and-so's really playing well with this putter he's trying out'.
I admit I was blinkered and still use the same 3-wood I had in 1998 before I first earned a place on the European Tour!
But my attitude has changed at last! I visited the Titleist Custom-fitting centre at Brampton Park near Huntingdon last week and Wow! it sure opened my eyes to what I've been missing.
Like a ten-year-old set free in Toys R'Us, I was almost mesmerised by the range of clubs Titleist and Cobra has available. Among the irons are classic designs with bladed heads and some are cavity back designs with peripheral weighting to make the 'sweet spot' a little bigger. Some are a combination of the two to help fix a certain trajectory or shape.
As for drivers, there are adjustable heads, interchangeable shafts, moveable weights - almost every combination of loft, lie and face angle to create the perfect ball flight.
And after trying different combinations of loft and shaft, I cannot stress how important it is to get properly custom-fitted by the technicians at your local centre. With all the technology to hand as well as an expert eye, they can recommend the right shaft and loft to make the very most of your golf swing, especially those with a degree of consistency.
Having spent nearly ten years on Tour, I admit I've never taken taken full advantage of the equipment at my disposal, nor the expert help at hand alongside almost every practice range. I'd tended to stick with what I had and was reluctant to change for fear it might compromise what talent I had. If only I knew then what I know now!
I can't stress strongly enough that if you have a will to improve and are open to change it is seriously worth your fixing a custom-fit session with one of the nationwide technicians through your local pro. Apart from the £25 fee for the session, there's no obligation and indeed if you order the subsequent clubs through your pro it should be included in the price.
If you already have a reasonable and consistent golf swing you can buy a much-improved golf game by getting fitted for the clubs that will suit you. I guarantee you will see a difference!
Here are the links to some of the equipment I tried and my opinions of it.
*Former European Tour player Andy Raitt won the 2009 PGA Southern Region Order of Merit, was third in the Srixon PGA Play-Offs at Little Aston and will represent his Region in the 2010 BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
Custom-fitting: Opening a Tour pro's eyes