Sea Island master Clubfitter Craig Allan provides insider tips on how to swing the perfect fit.
By Scott Kramer
There’s no mistaking the importance of clubfitting these days. Technology has gotten so sophisticated and precise that your golf swing and ball flight can be quickly broken down into thousands of data points. This data can then derive the exact clubs and specifications you need to be able to strike the ball better, further and with more efficiency.
Sea Island’s Golf Learning Center is among the best destinations that can fit the perfect club to your swing. The center, which Golf Digest listed among America’s 100 Best Clubfitters in 2013, employs two full-time clubfitters with more than 30 years of experience—one being manager Craig Allan. Armed with the latest, state-of-the-art technology, including two TrackMan Launch Monitors—sophisticated, three-dimensional doppler radars measuring golf club and ball flight data in real time—the center allows golfers to test the latest equipment from most major club brands in live conditions, and then quantify the results.
Sea Island’s “Best of Class by Category” approach allows golfers to test multiple brands in each product category. Fittings can help determine the optimal launch conditions for your unique swing; your correct set makeup, including fairway metals, hybrids and wedges; or confirm the performance of your existing clubs, including exact yardage calculations.
“We’ve been using the industry-leading TrackMan Radar as our launch monitor technology for several years now,” Allan says. A slew of tour pros, including Davis Love III, Harris English, Brandt Snedeker, Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson have consulted Allan on their clubs.
“Rather than focus on one equipment brand for fitting, we have fitting tools for the leading performers in all categories,” Allan explains. “We’re a regional fitting center for both Nike and Titleist, as well as an advanced fitting location for TaylorMade, PING, Mizuno, Cleveland, Cobra, Callaway, Adams and Tour Edge.”
Each fitting session starts with a short interview while the golfer warms up, which allows Allan and his staff an opportunity to get some background on the golfer, as well as learn about his or her goals, and also lets the golfer get comfortable with the process. Regardless of what clubs the player’s being fitted for, the staff always uses the golfer’s current club as the baseline so that they’re able to assess tendencies and get a defined target to exceed. “Once we have the data from the current club, we will test new equipment against it—keeping in mind the player’s preferences as well as shot tendencies,” Allan says. “At the end of the fitting, we should have a consensus between player and data on a club or set that will clearly outperform the old, and something the player is excited about.”
Allan recognizes that there are many different club options from which golfers can choose, almost all of which will perform well for someone. “Each golfer is unique and therefore should take the time to be fitted for clubs that will maximize performance so they can truly enjoy the game,” he says. “There are very few players who will not benefit from a clubfitting session, as it truly is the fastest way to improve your game. We do, however, run into a golfer occasionally who has some swing issues that should first be addressed before they invest in new clubs.”
Allan says he recently helped a woman understand launch angles and carry distances as they related to her slower clubhead speed. “Ultimately, we added some lofted fairway woods, hybrids and additional wedges to her set, which she said changed her game,” Allan says. “We strive to have this effect with every fitting we do. Well-fit clubs will enhance and improve a player’s game. … A set of clubs should work together and address both a player’s strengths and weaknesses. Many people focus on the driver, as they understandably want to hit [the ball] further, but even though driving the ball is important, it’s only part of the equation that makes up playing well.”
Consider how the staff at Sea Island Golf Learning Center helped Jon Clarkson of Houston: “Their clubfitting technology is cutting edge,” says the amateur golfer. “The equipment changes they’ve recommended to me as time has marched on, with inevitable swing and flexibility issues, have been great and allowed me to stay competitive.”
The world’s best golf players also praise Allan’s abilities. Whenever PGA TOUR pro Harris English’s equipment sponsor PING sends him new clubs, he typically takes them directly to Allan. “That’s to make sure all of the specs are accurate for my swing,” English explains. “He’s one of the best in the business and has a great eye. He makes my job easier. That allows me to have the confidence to know that the clubs are right and I can just swing away.”