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Club Fitting with a Legend – Coach Bobby Bowden

Coach Bowden signs with a fan at the Callaway Fitting Day at Edwin Watts Golf of Tallahassee
Coach Bowden signs with a fan at the Callaway Fitting Day at Edwin Watts Golf of Tallahassee

It’s not often you get to spend time with a living legend.

And to call Coach Bobby Bowden a legend might be an understatement.

Not only is he the winningest Division 1 college football coach in history, he’s also an All-American nice guy as well.

We got to spend the afternoon with Coach Bowden at the Edwin Watts Golf store in Tallahassee recently, working alongside Jon-Michael Goins and Ryan Mattox of Callaway Golf who generously offered their time with him performing a custom fitting for the new Steelhead XR irons and Fusion woods that will soon be out from Callaway.

IMG_1625In our podcast below on Soundcloud, on our website and on iTunes, Coach Bowden along with Jon-Michael and store manager J.P. Raymer, explain the day and the event put on by Callaway and the store.  Lots of customers showed up to watch the fitting, and of course, share stories with Coach Bowden and get his treasured autograph.

He’s 86 years young.

Still doing corporate and charity speaking averaging 3 to 4 times per week.


“And it’s not really a day of golf unless I can play 36,” he’s said in the past.

Legendary coach.  Legendary human being.

Hit ’em straight, Coach!

Tom Brassell:  Welcome to Golf Better at Worldwide Golf Shops. Live, on location at Edwin Watts Golf in Tallahassee, Florida. Hello everyone. Tom Brassell here and thanks so much for joining us. Special day here in Tallahassee, joined by the manager J.P. Raymer. J.P., thanks so much, man.

J.P. Raymer:   Absolutely. Thanks for coming.

Tom Brassell:  I don’t know if you know this, but if you go back in the archives of GolfBetter podcasts, you’re the only father-son team that’s ever been on the podcast. Your father John, and you know what he was talking about? Club fitting.

J.P. Raymer: Was he?

Tom Brassell:  What do we have going on today?

J.P. Raymer:    We’ve got a club fitting. We got Bobby here, Coach Bowden, we’re going to be doing a club fitting for him. Callaway’s is giving him a great set of clubs and going to get them dialed in. It should be a good event.

Tom Brassell:  You know, we preach club fitting all the time, get fit, get fit. Most people won’t do it. I think they think it costs too much time or it’s going to cost too much of their money. A fallacy both ways, right?

J.P. Raymer:   Yeah, absolutely. Time, you’re talking 15 to 30 minutes for an iron and driver fitting. Money, absolutely no charge if you come to any Worldwide Golf Shops. There’s going to be no charge for a fitting whether you buy clubs from us or not. We just want you to be fit in the right set of clubs. We can do a live board fitting. Get you dialed in on length, lie, loft and also shaft flex. That’s the most important thing is that shaft flex and getting the right shaft for the right player.

Tom Brassell:    Now we’re on the other side of the building. A little bit about what Coach Bowden will be going through with Jon-Michael from Callaway.

J.P. Raymer:   What they’ll do is they’ll probably get his measurables, how tall are you, Coach? What’s your wrist to floor measurement. Those are going to be the most important things to start from. Then they’re going to get a swing speed, kind of see where he is, if he’s graphite or steel, soft, regular, senior flex, regular flex, stiff, that type of thing. Once they get that dialed in they’ll be able to do the lie board angle as well. That’s just basically how the club lies on the ground. If you need it to be upright or flat they can get them dialed in that way.

Tom Brassell:   J.P. hey, thanks so much for opening your doors and your hospitality. Got food out and drinks and customers are coming in. It’s going to be a great day here in Tallahassee.

J.P. Raymer:   Yes it will. Thank you so much for coming and you all come on down.

Tom Brassell:     We’re here with Callaway Golf’s Jon-Michael Goins. Just wrapped up with Coach Bowden. How was that?

Jon-Michael Goins: Man, what a treat that was.

Tom Brassell:    You couldn’t find a nicer guy, could you?

Jon-Michael Goins:  No. How often do you get to actually do your job? The job you love and do it with a legend? Yeah, you can’t write that up in a script. That was really cool, really cool.

Tom Brassell:  Talk about, Jon-Michael, what you had to work with and what you got out of this because most people think fitting is expensive, it takes a lot of time, costs money. Not so and you probably, I’m looking at my watch, didn’t spend 20, 25 minutes with him probably and could have spent more, but talk about it.

Jon-Michael Goins:  Yeah, so the custom side of things is a must. I’m a PGA professional, been doing it for quite some time. For most average golfers they just buy it off the rack when a lot of times the custom fitting process only takes about 20, 25 minutes out of their time. It’s inexpensive. A lot of times it’s free. You get with your local retailers like the guys here at Watts. They do a great job. Or your local PGA professional and they’ll knock it out. Really it’s a great experience that everybody needs to go through if they want to be better and of course if they want to make sure that their golf clubs are properly fit and there’s no more room for error, it’s the only way to go.

Tom Brassell:  Let’s just say if Coach Bowden was like the normal golfer and bought a set of clubs off the rack, he bought a set of senior shaft flexes with no adjustment for lie or anything like that, what would his ball flight be doing if he just got a stock set?

Jon-Michael Goins:               He’s pretty close. He’s got a very traditional golf swing. Makes good contact with the ball. For Coach the biggest thing was just fine tuning a little bit, getting the specs a little bit more to his liking to where his ball contact was a little bit more consistent. He has like I said, a very traditional swing. A lot of older golfers especially, they used to buy off the rack before custom fitting was a big deal, so a lot of their swings kind of adapt to the standard style. We tweaked a little, a few things here, topped miles launched and spin, especially from the driver standpoint. Gave him a little bit extra distance which everybody could use and obviously hopefully make it a little bit more consistent and enjoyable for him.

Tom Brassell:     More distance. Dad gum distance, right?

Jon-Michael Goins:  Distance is the name of the game.

Tom Brassell: Yeah. He loves to play. He said to me on occasion, “If I don’t get 36 in a day it’s not a day.” He’s 86 years old, still at it and again, now he will get the new Steelhead XR irons, correct?

Jon-Michael Goins:   Yeah, so we were fitting him for the Steelhead XR which in terms of irons haven’t been released yet. They’ll be Friday, September the 2nd. It’s new. He’s one of the first people to even see it and hit it. We’re kind of getting him ahead of the curve. He’s going to have a quality set that at Callaway we feel like is going to be one of our best sellers maybe of all time, especially for 2017. Coach is going to be one of the first ones to play here in 2016. Very exciting.

Tom Brassell:When was the last time you did a fitting other than a range where you had a crowd like this watching? That’s pretty fun, isn’t it?

Jon-Michael Goins: Crowd yes, that doesn’t happen much. Indoor fittings, that’s common, but when you’re got somebody like Coach Bowden it kind of draws a crowd. Makes it a little bit more intimidating, but he’s used to 90-plus thousand people screaming, so I’m sure this crowd was not intimidating to him. Maybe to me, but not for Coach.

Tom Brassell:  Jon-Michael, thanks so much for coming over here, taking time out of your day and setting it up. We’re looking for great things and great scores from him.

Jon-Michael Goins: Yeah, my pleasure. Thank you so much.

Tom Brassell:   All right, finally we’re here with the man of the hour, Coach Bobby Bowden. Coach, I look back on all the people we’ve interviewed on the podcast, you’ve probably been on more than anybody.

Bobby Bowden:  That’s good. I appreciate those golf clubs you’ve been getting me. About five years ago you got me a Nike golf clubs. Then this time we got Callaway, you know?

Tom Brassell:   It’s called being an ambassador.

Bobby Bowden: Oh boy, well I appreciate it, man.

Tom Brassell: Talk about what happened today over in the fitting area. Jon-Michael spent some time with you, took his time, worked through some clubs. What all you experienced, because a lot of people are scared to come in and get fitted for two reasons. They think it takes too much time and it costs too much money. Talk about that.

Bobby Bowden: It’s worth it to me because they fit you out. It’s like going down and buying a suit. If you just buy it and don’t try it on you don’t know what you’ve got, you know?

Tom Brassell: Right.

Bobby Bowden: You go in here and he tests your clubs. He lets you swing irons, then he lets you swing woods. Then he can tell where to shorten it or lengthen it or do what. It’s well worth it.

Tom Brassell:  Off the board too to tell if you’re hitting it off the toe or off the heel in your line.

Bobby Bowden:  No doubt about it, yeah. He can take the club after you hit it, he puts some film on it and when it hits the floor it scratches. Wherever it scratches is where you’re hitting the ball. He can tell well, you’re hitting it on the heel or you’re hitting it on the toe or you’re hitting it on the metal. I sure appreciate him doing it.

Tom Brassell:  He had you honed in and also you had the launch monitor showing exactly what your ball flight was doing and the distance.

Bobby Bowden:  Oh, it’s unbelievable.

Tom Brassell:  Hey look, while I’ve got you here I’ve got to ask you our five questions, 50 seconds. Let’s see if you can knock these out, okay? Five questions, 50 seconds. Going to put you on the clock. Question number one, your fondest memory of growing up in Birmingham, Alabama?

Bobby Bowden:  My fondest memory would probably be going to the picture show every Saturday morning when I was five, six, seven, right up till probably 13 or 14 years of age. That was a great memory for me.

Tom Brassell: Question number two, the most talented team you ever coached?

Bobby Bowden:  Most talented, I think the ’87 football team at Florida State was the most talented. We came in second in the nation. If I’d have gone for [inaudible 07:42] Miami would have won a national championship, but I went for two and missed it. I think that’s the most talented team we had.

Tom Brassell:  Question number three for Coach Bowden, the best road venue you’ve ever played at?

Bobby Bowden: The best road venue, LSU, undoubtedly. The loudest I’ve ever been in.

Tom Brassell: Question number four for Coach Bobby Bowden, the lowest round you’ve ever had? You’re best round ever?

Bobby Bowden:  Seventy.

Tom Brassell:  You did have a hole in one not long ago.

Bobby Bowden: Yeah, but this goes back to about 1980. I shot a two under down in southern Florida at one of our Booster Dinners. Of course I’ve never been able to match that. Now I can’t break 90.

Tom Brassell:  Question number five, I heard you answer this for somebody else earlier, do you think Florida State is a final 14 this year?

Bobby Bowden: If they stay healthy, yeah. The big thing, you take all the teams now, they’re all undefeated. Now only four of them are going to get to the playoffs. Now there are some that you say are very capable. One of them is Florida State. They’re capable of getting there, but you don’t know what the injury situation is. What if they lost Cook? What if they lost a quarter? What if they lost a great runner? If you told me Florida State is going to stay healthy, I’d say they’re going to be there.

Tom Brassell:  Coach, thanks so much for your time. Hey, let’s get together again after you get your clubs and let’s see what you think and give us a little feedback on after with those new Callaway clubs.

Bobby Bowden:  I’d love to do it and I’d love to do it over in Fort Walton where you hang out.

Tom Brassell:   Bring it over. We’ll be there.

Bobby Bowden:  I sure appreciate what Wuerffel is doing. I really admire him.

Tom Brassell: Thanks so much Coach. It’s been great being with you.