Custom golf clubs are anything from a single club to a full set of woods, irons and putter which have been custom specified and assembled just for you. They may work for somebody else and other people will probably love your custom built golf clubs, but they are yours.
To make an analogy that most of you will be familiar with we will compare buying a new set of golf clubs to buying a new suit or dress, there are three ways you can go about this;
Option 1 - You go to a clothes shop and browse around until you see something fashionable and then buy it and hope it fits you OK and is comfortable. That is the normal way most people buy their golf clubs.
Option 2 - You can go to the same shops and try a few different designs, maybe even mix and match top and bottom of the outfit, and eventually you will get something that fits OK but you may need to have altered, within the leeway the existing clothing gives on sizes and lengths and quite a lot of people will get a reasonable fit. This is very similar to custom fitting your new golf clubs, you are still limited to the small number of shafts and flexes that that manufacturer provides and most will only extend or reduce by 1/2" and at the most 2 degrees loft and lie. The shaft flexes will only be those stamped on the side of the shaft and are different for every shaft manufacturer, very rarely are these actually measured and you better match one of the five or six flexes available. For a lot of people that just isn't enough, and this can still take many weeks.
Option 3 - If you wanted something that would last a long time and fitted really well from day one you would go to a bespoke outfitters, they would take all your measurements, find out exactly what you wanted the item for, how often it would be used, etc. This would cost a relative fortune but gives great results every time. This is the same as custom club building, but the good news is, unlike the clothing market this is normally less expensive, and rarely more expensive, than the first option. So how does that work?
Well, almost all golf club heads, with very few exceptions - if any - are made in the far east, mainly China. We believe that all heads are made there but several of the big manufacturers just will not give a straight answer, try them!
Shafts, the most important part of the club, are made by a very few companies, but normally China, Bangladesh, Japan, etc. None of the big names make their own shafts, the majority fitting True Temper shafts, sometimes branded with their own name but never manufactured by them.
Now when you pick up the magazines or discount shop offers are you looking for what suits you best or, more likely, the same clubs you thought Tiger or Vijay or Ernie or Annika were winning with last weekend?
This is a good time to dispel a widely held belief, the only similarity between the clubs you can buy and the clubs winning major pro tournaments is the branding. These pro golfers are paid anything up to seven figure sums of money to use these brands, they and their coaches specify every head, shaft and grip that makes up that set and somebody has to pay for that. So when you buy your set of Z43 Super Pingaway irons you are paying for the components, the plush headquarters and the massive advertising and endorsements that made you notice them in the first place.
A good custom club builder will use components made from at least as good raw materials as the big boys, often from the same factories to produce the heads, they offer the same shafts and grips AND take the same sort of time to analyse your game and physique as those top pros get, but because they don't pay for the names on their components, that set of clubs, designed just for you, is an affordable possibility.
Again a good clubmaker, and there are bad ones as in any walk of life, will be more concerned about the results of your fitting than you spending money.
There are many ways of fitting but during the fitting ask your clubmaker what they think of your game, does it match with your and your friends impressions of your shot shape and distance or are they just telling you things to make you sepnd money. If it doesn't meet expectations can they justify their statements without resorting to technobabble?
The best part about about custom building should be when you go back to your clubmaker and tell them "I've just shot my lowest ever score" or "I've just won my first ever competition" or "I've just hit my best ever shot" or, and my favourite, "That's the most I've enjoyed a game of golf for years".
About The Author
Trevor has worked with IT and golf for over 20 years, studying physics to Bsc level, and is a professional clubmaker based in Hinckley, Leicestershire.
Check http://www.1offgolf.co.uk/aboutus.html for more information