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Custom fitting for performance


Double your average sales and increase your margin by putting equipment at the start of your clients improvement, writes AAT PGA Professional Rhys Atkinson, founder of Eclipse Golf.

PGA Members are the most influential and important person in a golfers’ development. The swing technique and other practical elements for developing a players game are of course well covered by PGA Professionals and going strong, although there is plenty of opportunity to develop the application of these service provisions to improve results for clients.

The focus of this piece is in the way that equipment services are being delivered within the industry and is written for those who fall into the following categories:

1. Managers or owners of a golf facility who want to ensure the equipment – fitting element of their business stands out firstly for their membership (keep their members on site) AND for attracting new golfers in.

2. PGA coaches who love helping clients improve but recognise their equipment technology and fitting knowledge is not where it should be. You are absolutely crucial in this.

3. Newly qualified PGA Professionals – you have a fantastic opportunity here to build a stand out performance improvement business that quickly establishes your reputation.

4. Fitting specialists who haven’t made The PGA playing ability grade yet but want to be part of the players’ improvement working with PGA Professionals through expert equipment analysis.

In the last 20 years the focus of the pro shop has shifted towards the retail of technology advances in club sales.

Everyone loves new clubs and the major OEM brands have done a great job with technology, design and in optimising the fitting of their products with tools and product information.

They also create incredibly compelling marketing that concentrates on the technology advancements. Golfers are bombarded with the message they can buy a product to add distance, stop their slice, and start hitting more greens.

So the starting point for our player looking at their equipment is coming from the brands marketing promise that the club can solve their problems.

This marketing machine has in some way marginalised the PGA Professional’s skillset. The golfer researches online for technology, models and price and goes a long way to deciding which club they want before looking for a trial opportunity of that club.

The custom fit service has now become a satellite sales closing tool away from the rest of the performance improvement services you offer as illustrated below:

This results in you at the END of your player’s equipment decisions as per below:

Your role has become about retail rather than performance.

But equipment should be part of a players’ improvement cycle and should be led by you, the PGA Professional or your team.

You need to get ‘in front’ of, or at least ‘in between’ the technology marketing and the decision of your golfer before they limit their choices.

Be the start of the process.

You are in a position to be providing the most comprehensive and effective fitting service in the industry and you need to make time for it because:

a) Your golfer does not have the expertise to make the best head model decisions for their game (let alone the hundreds of shaft and grip decisions).

b) A brand fitting/demo is limited simply by the fact they only have their designs to fit with and it’s their job to fit only that product regardless of suitability.

A comprehensive fitting that leads to the best results for your client needs to have a wide model offering across at least 3 brands and an expert in charge of that process who understands the product in depth and also knows what their client needs to perform their best.

This is an article about two distinct approaches to custom fit and how which one you apply will have a significant impact on your business.

I call the two approaches ‘retail fitting’ and ‘performance fitting’ and they lead to very different results.

The below is an excerpt from a client’s testimonial after seeing a specialist with a ‘performance fitting’ approach against one with a ‘retail fitting’ approach. It highlights exactly what we are talking about.

“My daughter playing off two handicap had been fitted before but this was a totally different and much more thorough and professional experience” – Steve Lynch 12/07/17

– Retail fitting is driven by marketing and its focus is on the sale.

– Performance fitting is driven by results and starts with the PGA Professional’s guidance. Neither approach is wrong but ‘Performance Fitting’ caters for the ever-growing demands of the serious and core golfer while ‘Retail Fitting’ does not. Why is the serious and core golfer important?

Well they play approximately 94 per cent of rounds and are responsible for approximately 94 per cent of the spend. There is a growing sense that this category of golfer is expecting a more tailored and detailed approach to developing their game.

The ‘Retail Fitting’ approach is what most facilities are providing and some have done well if you measure the results in terms of sales volume.

But sales volume is of no interest to your serious or core golfer.

Neither is average sales (per person) or margin but these latter two will be much higher with a ‘Performance Fitting’ approach. The below graphic illustrates a clients potential journey when you lead the way.

The two important things to note from this graphic are that:

1. The first element ‘Game Assessment’ is assessing a golfers ‘performance’.

2 – The next element – ‘Equipment Check’ is checking equipment BEFORE any decision is made about what to work on.

Equipment needs to be at the START of the improvement process!
There’s a lot that goes into a ‘Performance Fitting’ approach but at a high level it looks like this:

It will result in significant improvements (Vs. Retail Fittings) in the following metrics that I call the 6 R’s.

Results / Reputation / Repeat Business / Referrals / References / Revenues

These are the metrics that are key to providing what the core golfer is asking for. Every one of the below will improve significantly if you apply the ‘Performance Fitting’ approach.

Client Satisfaction – they will notice immediately the difference in level of knowledge and experience.

Reputation – this will grow as people start to talk about the experience they have had with you.

Session Income – this should provide a full time wage for a coach or other team member!

Repeat Business – Equipment fittings will often be a 2 or 3 session affair as the customer realises how much there is to it all.

Review Quality – you will see a clear difference in what people write about you.

Referrals – This massively important source of new customers will increase.

Average Sales – this can double!

Margin – this will likely increase by 2% to 6%

Some of the detail of each section can be seen below.

There are some really key elements in this graphic which if you employ into your process can dramatically improve your business in relation to the 6 R’s mentioned above.

So have a think about whether you ‘retail fit’ or ‘performance fit’. Performance fitting comes from a place of wanting great results for your clients – it requires deeper knowledge, planning and effort but the rewards for both you and your clients are visible and valuable.

Rhys provides courses and consulting via his company Eclipse Golf Ltd on how to build your Performance Fitting business and stand out from the crowd.

His new course is called ‘The Custom Fit Expert’. Within the PGA’s new CPD system, the course will be classed as a Formal Learning activity and is expected to take participants approximately 30 hours to complete in a live, weekly online format so travel won’t be required.  Rhys will provide all participants with the necessary information and evidence for their CPD records upon completion.

It will run for the first time in November 2019 and as a beta course, Rhys is limiting the participants and running it at a special, one off, discounted price. Deadline for registering for this beta course is November 1, 2019.

If you’d like to learn more about the course or grab one of the limited spaces before the deadline you can request to book a free 30 minute consultation with Rhys by emailing