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Brett Porath, Titleist Custom Fitting – Podcast #231

The importance of being custom fit for golf equipment.  We talk about it all of the time.  We recently took it one step further.

We caught up with Titleist’s Golf’s Director of Custom Fitting, Mr. Brett Porath, on our GolfBetter Podcast.  Topics included the “myths” of club fitting (takes too long, costs too much, etc.), and also, what one can expect when getting custom fit.  Not only for your driver, but also, irons and wedges.

Take a listen to our interview by clicking on the the SoundCloud link (below), on our website or subscribe free to the GolfBetter Podcast on iTunes.

Then, take 30 minutes out of your day and head to one of our stores and take the time to get custom fit.  You owe it to your game to do so.

Tom Brassell: Welcome to GolfBetter at Worldwide Golf Shops. Episode 231. Hello, everyone. Tom Brassell here and thank you so much for joining us. Whether this is your first time or you’re a subscriber to the podcast and caught every episode on iTunes or maybe somewhere in the middle. Either way, we are just glad that you joined us today. Especially glad because we have a great guest today. He comes from southern California, where he calls home. He is the manager of Custom Fitting for Titleist Golf, Mr. Brett Porath. Brett, thanks so much for joining us. It’s great to have you with us.

Brett Porath: Thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity and a chance to talk.

Tom Brassell: Titleist as we know, Brett, has always been committed to the best equipment for good players and all players. Also, now, as far as fitting those players they’re committed to it certainly because you’ve got a whole department that you’re over. Talk a little bit about what you do day to day.

Brett Porath: Well, we’re really focused on providing fitting tools to our trade partners and fitters to make sure they have the tools necessary to expertly fit golfers. We know that no golfer is likely to do better off the rack. You’re better off working with an expert, finding out what’s best for you, what meets your needs, and going through a fitting process. So we provide the tools, the methods, and the training necessary to do that. Our goal would be to have 100% of golfers get fit for golf clubs, because we know it helps their performance.

Tom Brassell:  Well let’s bring up the three myths that I’ve found or that we’ve all found during club fitting that customers reject doing it. One, they say it takes too long. Two, they say it costs too much. And three they say, “I’m not good enough. I don’t have a swing that will repeat every time. Why should I make the investment in club fitting?” And all three of those couldn’t be further from the truth, right?

Brett Porath: No, there’s advantages for all golfers. You think about how long it takes. We have a driver fitting methodology we call “30 in 30,” meaning 30 swings in 30 minutes and you get one complete performance driver. Half an hour for the amount of time you spend using that driver over the next couple years is a very small investment of time to make sure it’s right for you, Nothing’s more frustrating than having a club that doesn’t perform, so I think 30 minutes is good investment of time. You’ll probably learn something about your golf game. You’ll certainly get a better performing driver. So time, it’s an investment well spent and-

Tom Brassell: You know, when we were at the PGA Merchandise Show talking with Steve Pelisek, president of Titleist Clubs, he kind of said that in another word. He said, “Guys, it’s a $500 driver. Get custom fit for it. It doesn’t cost-“. He goes, “It’s great off the rack, but we can’t guarantee you’re going to get that additional 15, 20, 30 yards if you don’t work with somebody to get you tuned in.” Right?

Brett Porath: Yeah, you’re going to spend the same amount of money. Let’s make sure we unlock the full potential of that product. That is a big investment. We want it to work. We want you to love your driver, and we know that getting fit is the best step towards that.

Tom Brassell: Let’s talk about the second one. I think we just kind of covered it. That it costs too much. It used to be if you wanted a custom set of clubs you were going to have to pay a fitter to sit with you for a half hour or an hour, look at lie angle, loft, swing speed. You look at all those things, but nowadays it’s more the norm than the exception, isn’t it?

Brett Porath: In most cases, it’s included in the purchase process. So it doesn’t have to cost a cent. Many of the adjustments we make in the clubs cost no extra money. There’s a multitude of grips that are at no upcharge. We’ve got over 20 of our stock shafts in variance that are no upcharge in drivers. So you’ve got great performance options, high flying, low flying, stiff feeling, soft feeling. Anything you want we can find it and we make sure that it performs right for you, and it very often doesn’t include any upcharge.

Tom Brassell: Myth number three, I’m not good enough. My swing doesn’t repeat. Why would I go get fit for something if I’m not going to repeat the swing?

Brett Porath: No swing is going to be the same every time. We’re not tour professionals. What fitters do is they look for trends. If they say, “Okay. If there’s a specific swing, a shot result that I’m trying to eliminate,” I can set up the club to help you reduce that. Trying to take the right side of the golf course out of play or you’re trying to take the left side out of play. We can set up the golf club to help you do that. So you may not do it the same way every time, but we can work and change the tendencies.

I think the analogy we often use is if you’re not a fast runner, you wouldn’t say, “Well it doesn’t matter what shoes I wear.” You want the right size, the right fit to give you your best chance possible. So if you want to improve, you should get fit. The process doesn’t have to be super precise if you’re not as precise with your game, but the fitter can definitely work within the tendencies and look for trends and have clubs that help reward good swings and keep your bad shots a little bit better.

Tom Brassell: You know how easy this process is. I’m playing in a scramble at my college down the road, a fundraiser, and I took a 917 driver that we had here, that happened to be what flex I would use and loft, and I took it out to our store in Destin, and I said, “Can you help me get tuned in with this?” And a couple questions. What kind of shot do you normally hit, what kind of shot do you want to hit, and I’m telling you, Brett, it wasn’t ten minutes and we had the high launch that we were looking and the low spin. At least do that. If you’re going to invest in it, take your time and invest in somebody that’s going to dial this thing in to what’s going to help you play your best.

Brett Porath:  Yeah. A lot of people are amazed at what looks like subtle differences in the settings. We can change the loft, we can change the lie. We can certainly change the length. So if you told me, “Hey, I want a club that goes maximum distance. I don’t care about direction.” We’re going to set it up a little longer, maybe set it up a little stronger loft to increase some speed. It’s a little bit like a mechanic going under the hood and tuning you car to what you want. Do you want maximum gas mileage, do you want maximum forgiveness, you know, in golf. Do I want forgiveness, do I want distance, do I want combination of both? Your fitter can do that with the adjustability that 917 offers.

Tom Brassell:   Now, Brett, we’ve been talking mostly about 917 driver and fairways, but share what goes on in an iron fitting. Because if you’re investing in a set of irons for your game, obviously you want to be able to hit greens and make those irons work for you as best they can.

Brett Porath: Yes. A lot of the process stays the same. I think the focus shifts a little bit towards accuracy. You know with an iron, you’re 155 yards from the hole. Your first goal is to hit it close. It doesn’t really matter what number on the bottom of the iron gets it. You just want to hit it close. So the focus is really more on direction, on consistency, on feel. It starts with a discussion with your fitter. Am I looking for maximum forgiveness or do I want to work the ball a certain direction, left or right? So they go through a similar process. We’ll try different shafts, try different lengths. We certainly have the ability to adjust lie angle to make it right for your swing. So a lot of the things are the same. I think the goal is just more get it close to the hole, not get it as far as possible down field.

Tom Brassell: Now you can also go back to our podcast last year with Bob Vokey and Jeremy Stone talking about the importance of fitting in the wedge game with all the grinds they have and availability in the Vokey line of wedges. But just share with us a little bit about your thoughts there, too, Brett.

Brett Porath:  Well you think about … if you ask most golfers, they’d say, “I definitely should get fit for my irons and driver.” And then it kind of tapers off. They don’t recognize that fitting is an opportunity with wedges in the same manner, but it absolutely is. For more golfers it’s important in the sense that, I don’t care how fast you are, I don’t care what type of player you are, you’re going to use your wedges. You’re going to miss greens, whether you’re a top PGA tour player or you’re an average golfer. Finding the right bounce and grind makes all the difference.

Depending on your swing style, if you’re more steep you might need a club with a little more bounce. If you play off firm turf you may need a club that has a little less bounce and a different grind. So really your fitter works through that. Do you like to manipulate the face, open it, close it, or do you just hit it square all the time? What is your swing style? What conditions do you play in? What are the bunkers like where you play?

They take that into factor and find out what bounces and grinds are best for you, then they work with your irons and make sure the loft gaps are consistent, so you don’t have two clubs that are six yards apart and maybe the next two clubs are 20 yards apart. You want nice even gaps in your wedges. I think more people should look at wedges as a fitting opportunity, which is relatively new as far as the marketplace or becoming more prevalent.

And then make sure that you check your wedges often. We see players, especially tour players but anyone who’s playing more than 75, 100 rounds with a wedge, it starts to get worn and you see performance degrade. Now we heat treat the faces so we extend that as best we can. We’ve got industry leading durability. But nevertheless, sand takes it toll on a metal face and there’s an opportunity there. Not so much by the calendar, it’s how often you play. Most players on tour, they replace their lob wedges four times a year, sand wedges three, gap wedges two, itching wedges one. That’s a rough guideline based on the amount of rounds that they play. And look, if you have a go-to lob wedge that you use out of the bunker all the time, check the face. Get to the fitter. Have him compare spin rates, and you’ll see a difference there as well.

Tom Brassell:   Yeah, that old dime-sized spot that used to be a badge of honor on your wedge? It’s probably hurting you a lot more than it is helping you, you know?

Brett Porath:Especially if you keep hitting that same spot, right? Now you’ve got one spot that has less spin. And what happens is not only does it spin less, it launches higher, the ball speed actually goes down a little bit because the ball slides up the face instead of getting gripped by the face. And it really makes a difference in performance and roll out, so you can see differences in balls rolling out 20 feet, 25 feet instead of 10 feet. That means you can’t hit front pins anymore. So it absolutely pays off.

But first step is find wedges that fit, get the right bounce and grind combination for your swing style and your course conditions. Then find the right lofts, so you have nice even gaps through your set. And then in the coming years we’ll worry about replacing.

Tom Brassell: Yeah, great stuff, Brett. Hey, before we close, you guys have been wonderful as far as getting our fitters in our stores up to speed and getting them certified as far as Titleist fitting, but also talk about what you guys started a year or so ago with Titleist Thursdays out on Green Grass.

Brett Porath: We do. So we have an opportunity. We heard from some golfers that said, “You know, I can’t find where to get fit.” Our first thought is, “Gosh, we’ve got a lot of fitters.” But we wanted to make more of them available to the public, just as they do when they go to your stores. If you prefer to go outside, we have Titleist Thursdays. You can find it on our website, We set up our fitters that are trained by us. They’ve got a full complement of fitting tools and shafts and heads. We use a TrackMan Launch Monitor and Pro V1 golf balls. If you want to go outside and get fit this is a great opportunity. It’s at no charge. You can book an appointment online ahead of time and get your results, then go back to the store and purchase there.

Tom Brassell:  Well, it’s been great time spending with you, Brett. Some great information. Final words to our listeners to you out at Titleist?

Brett Porath: One, we appreciate the trust you place in our equipment. We understand that you play the game, you want to score lower and we think the clubs that we have, when well fit, will prove to be better than the ones that are in your bag most of the time. We welcome the opportunity to have that comparison. Make sure that your clubs all have a great performance and a right purpose, and seeing an expert fitter is the best way to do that. I encourage everyone to go do that to maximize the potential for their bag.

Tom Brassell: Brett, thank you so much. Hey let’s don’t wait too long before we do this again. This has been great. Thanks so much for taking the time with us.

Brett Porath: Thank you, Tom. I appreciate it. And everyone go get fit, get the most out of your equipment.

Tom Brassell: Well there you have it. All the reasons that you need to get fit, the myth busters busting those myths that it takes too long, costs too much, and you’re not good enough. All the reasons to get fit not only for the driver but also the irons and the wedges as Voke told us last year. Don’t just grab some wedges. The grinds are different, the ground’s different, you’re swing’s different. Are you a digger, are you a slider? All those things come into play. Take the time and get fit for the equipment, and Titleist has some of the best equipment in the game.

Many thanks to Brett Porath for joining us today and for you, our listeners. We’ll do it again next time we have another episode of Golf Better at So long everyone.