Are you a gambler at heart?
Compulsive gamblers love the thrill of the unknown, but smart gamblers know trying to buck the odds is a sucker’s play. Saying hit me at 17 may be a rush, but the odds of drawing a 4 or lower do not favor the bold.
According to Adam Beach, owner and guiding light of MyGolfSpy, so many of us are compulsive gamblers when it comes to golf clubs.
“Golfers today are basically buying lottery tickets,” says Adam. “They’re going online, buying a club, scratching it off and hoping they have a winner. And by winner, I mean a club that’s going to maximize his or her full potential.”
“The odds of that happening are one in a million, no different than winning the lottery.”
Adam and MyGolfSpy editor Tony Covey believe they’ve come up with a way to cut those odds down to even money for you, without ever leaving your house or even swinging a club.
Madness, you say? Well, there’s 8 years of research and development, tens of thousands of swings from real swings from real golfers, millions of data points and a pretty robust algorithm to back it up.
Buckle up, campers, and get a load of TrueGolfFit.com.
“What we’ve created is The World’s First Personalized Golf Fitting Engine,” says Adam. “We’ve figured out a way to crack the golf fitting genome to fit people without ever seeing them swing or having them walk into a store.”
Sound crazy? Well, yeah, I can certainly understand a healthy skepticism. After all, the standard notion of fitting involves a launch monitor, a wall of shafts, a platoon of heads and the hands-on expertise of a qualified fitter. The science behind TrueGolfFit, however, is very much the result of real launch monitor data derived from thousands of real swings from real golfers of all sizes, shapes, ages and abilities.
“When we first started developing this concept, we called it the ‘Recommendation Engine,’” says MGS editor Tony Covey. “That’s really what it does; it gives you a recommendation.”
In a nutshell, here’s how it works:
When you log onto TrueGolfFit.com for a driver fitting, you’ll be asked for your handicap and then three key pieces of information: swing speed, tempo and angle of attack. If you’re not sure about any of these, there are video tutorials to help.
TrueGolfFit’s Recommendation Engine then takes over. Based on the information you provide, TruGolfFit looks to match your swing characteristics to swings in its database of over 40,000 swings taken during MyGolfSpy’s Most Wanted Driver testing. Based on the actual driver results from those matching swings, it will provide you with a driver it has determined will perform best for you, as well as a 2nd choice as a backup.
In addition, you’ll also get an idea of the distance and accuracy you’re likely to see.
“Basically, we’re pre-swinging the club for you,” says Adam. “We can find swings in our database that will match your swing. If we bunch enough of those swings together, we can put those swings up against all the drivers in the industry every year. We can then determine which clubs perform best with which swings, and we can tell exactly how they perform against all other drivers in the field that year.”
Voodoo or Math?
When you have a large group of golfers test virtually every driver released in a given year, you get some answers, but you also get some questions. Why, for instance, would a driver that ranks near the bottom in the overall rankings actually be a top-rated driver for one specific tester? And why would the number one overall driver rank near the bottom for another tester?
Tony and Adam are both curious people by nature, and those questions led to some serious numbers crunching. After several years of analysis, they concluded that each golfer’s unique combination of swing speed, tempo and angle of attack determine how well one driver performs compared to another for that golfer.
“We believe those are the characteristics that make the biggest difference,” says Tony.
Based on those three characteristics, TrueGolfFit uses the Strokes-Gained metric – the same as used in MyGolfSpy’s Most Wanted testing – as a way to measure relative performance and compare individual pieces of equipment for individual golfers.
“Strokes-gained combines distance and accuracy and, to a degree, consistency, because you need to be consistently posting favorable strokes gained values,” says Tony. “You may get rewarded for one long drive, as you would with a guy looking at a launch monitor, but if you can’t do it consistently, it’s going to hurt your score.”
With TrueGolfFit, Adam and Tony believe that with the recommended driver, you will gain strokes relative to the other drivers in the database.
“We’ll be able to tell you that not only is this the best club for your game, we’ll be able to tell you exactly how much longer it is, and how much straighter it is,” says Adam. “It’s 9.82 yards longer and 13% more accurate, and one day we’ll be able to tell you many strokes it can drop off your handicap, strokes gained-wise.”
Will TrueGolfFit replace that in-person, launch-monitor centric fitting session? Tony says absolutely not.
“Look, we’re not trying to replace Cool Clubs or Club Champion,” says Tony. “Those places will always offer an outstanding option for a guy willing to go through the process and pay more for that level of fitting, because what comes out of that is almost never an off-the-rack driver.
“We’re for the other guy – the guy who may buy a driver without even hitting it because he likes a certain brand, or whose fitting may consist of going to Dick’s and hitting balls off a launch monitor by himself and saying ‘this one’s best because I hit one ball really far.’ We’re trying to give you options that look at total performance with an element of real fitting.”
To anticipate the obvious question – no, TrueGolfFit will not fit you into the ideal custom shaft, tipped a half inch and butt-trimmed to 44 inches. Well, at least not yet. For now, you will need to visit a qualified fitter and pay that freight.
“We’re going to start out telling people that, based on your swing, here are the best off-the-rack drivers for you, and how much longer and more accurately you can expect to hit them,” says Adam. “We’ll eventually evolve into giving upgraded shaft recommendations and loft recommendations, and hopefully a lot of other things.”
While plenty of OEM-specific online fitting engines exist out there, each is built on that manufacturer’s performance matrix and rough generalizations, TrueGolfFit is built on actual swing data, and its recommendations are brand agnostic.
“It’s as accurate as the information you can gives us,” says Adam. “There’s two modes – Novice and Expert. If you go into Expert Mode and tell us your exact swing speed and accurately answer the different questions, the recommendation that comes out is based on your swing speed and your swing characteristics.”
“Callaway certainly has an idea of how its products perform for a golfer with a certain set of characteristics,” says Tony. “They’re leveraging fitting theory and they understand how their products work. But what it doesn’t tell you is maybe a Cobra driver might actually perform better for a golfer with those same characteristics. It may lead you to a Wilson or a Mizuno, or some other driver that may not have been on your radar.”
Archers, Arrows, Looks and Feel
There is a fundamental difference between the following two statements: the false new equipment will make you a better golfer and the fact-based the right equipment can help you play better golf.
“It’s the archer AND the arrow,” says Adam. “Equipment does matter. The best golfer in the world with the wrong equipment won’t perform as well. That’s a fact. Equipment that fits your swing characteristics will help you shoot better scores.”
“The goal here is to put the best equipment in your hands,” says Tony. “Especially for the guy who’s not so invested in his game that he’s going to spend an hour or two at Club Champion or someone like that. If you’re a guy who wants the absolute best you can get with whatever time restraints you have, then we’re going to give you a better shot at that every time.”
One To One
“In Most Wanted, we get a lot of wow, but how do I relate it to me?” says Tony. “On MyGolfSpy, we break it down to swing speed, and TrueGolfFit is the evolution of that. We have all this data and we can use this data to help you. Not the global you, I’m talking about the guy sitting in that chair looking at his computer screen. We can give you a better recommendation than what you’re getting from any other tool out there.”
At launch, TrueGolfFit will fit you for current year drivers only, with plans to expand into more year models, as well as irons and putters.
“We could have offered two years’ worth of models at launch,” says Adam. “But we’re not confident the current consumer would like to pay $7 (the TrueGolfFit fee for a driver fitting) to find out the best driver for him might be an older model. There needs to be more education.”
“With the way prices drop off and the inventory sometimes persists, and with what’s available on eBay,” adds Tony, “we’ll get to a point where we’ll have one-, two- or possibly three-year-old drivers in the database. It’s very possible the new, current model of a driver is worse for our game than what you already have. You may have to go back two-plus years to find one that’s actually better for you, because whatever engineering philosophy or spec they were working off of that year makes it the one that works best for you.”
Fees and Guaranties
So how much is a #Datacratic driver fitting worth to you?
Well, if you’re thinking of dropping $400 to $500 on a new driver, would 7 bucks to narrow the field according to your swing characteristics be a good value? Heck, a lot of folks drop that at Starbucks every morning.
TrueGolfFit won’t be able to see if you have a reverse pivot or if you’re coming over the top, but it will give you a data-centric recommendation based on the info you provide. And if you wind up buying the driver from one of TrueGolfFit’s retail partners, you’ll also receive a guaranty that’s unprecedented in online equipment sales.
“There’s a 60-day longer, straighter or your money back guaranty,” says Adam. “If it’s not longer and straighter like TrueGolfFit says it would be, send it back and you’ll get your money back.
“I want to make everything about performance,” he adds. “I want to flip performance and marketing, and I want every golfer to be able to quickly and easily ascertain what the best performing products are for their game, whether it’s a driver or a putter or, in the future, soft goods, like shoes and everything.”
As we’ve said here many times, getting fit for your golf equipment is always the preferred route, a route many – but certainly not all – avid golf blog readers routinely follow. If you’re one of those travelers, TrueGolfFit probably isn’t for you. The reality, however, is most golfers never get fit for their equipment and wind up buying based on marketing, price, what their buddy plays or maybe a couple of swings at a retail outlet. The odds of finding that one driver that maximizes your potential may be better than winning the lottery, but not by much.
If you’ve been on the driver merry-go-round and want to get off, TrueGolfFit can certainly help you narrow the field and, depending on the info you provide, may just put you farther down the fairway than you were before.