Hot Stix Golf is a nationwide custom golf club fitting company with locations in Arizona, California, New York and Florida. They are a brand agnostic golf club fitting company who is able to provide you many club choices across all the major club manufacturers.Unlike many companies, their fitting process takes place outdoors on the driving range, so you actually see the impact the fitting has had on your clubs.
I had the opportunity to experience a Hot Stix custom club fitting at the Orlando Orange County National Location. It’s presently a semi-permanent establishment that spends half the year in Orlando and the other half in New York. Regrettably, we weren’t able to go through a full session, which would take at least four hours, but I did get to witness and experience a driver and 3w fitting.
Custom Club Fitting
We met up with our club fitters, Chris Marsh and Peter Schiller (who is a fellow lefty golfer!) and they spent a couple minutes giving us the background of the company and walking us through the steps of the custom club fitting.
The fitting begins with evaluating the player and their current clubs. They ask about your game and gather data on your clubs, like manufacturer, model, length, swing weight and frequency.
The player then heads out to the range and hits about fifteen balls per club for swing and ball flight analysis. Hot Stix Golf uses the TrackMan Pro to gather this information. The Trackman Pro is arguably the leader in the industry and is the choice of the PGA Tour and USGA for swing and ball flight analysis. It calculates your various shot characteristics with unparalleled efficiency at 1 foot for every 100 yards and with it’s doppler radar it tracks your exact ball flight from launch to landing giving you a complete picture of every ball you hit.
The swing characteristics captured are broken down into four categories:
- Club Speed
- Attack Angle
- Club Path
- Vertical & Horizontal Swing Plane
- Dynamic Loft
- Face Angle
- Ball Speed
- Smash Factor
- Vertical Angle
- Horizontal Angle
- Spin Rate
- Spin Axis
- Maximum Height
- Flight Time
- Landing Angle
After you’ve taken enough swings, they take an average of all your shots per club and compare them to some proprietary charts and data gathered from robot testing to determine which characteristics of your swing need to be altered. Your master club fitter then goes into his secret lab and puts together a variety of clubs for you to try out. This is such an awesome benefit to a Hot Stix Golf custom club fitting. They are able to identify what you need and immediately build it for you to try out.
Once you have a couple of custom options, you’ll go back to the range and hit another fifteen or so shots per club on the TrackMan Pro and then they’ll go through another round of analysis. It was so cool to sit back and watch Chris at work. After a few shots, he’d say something like, “I like that clubhead for you, but lets put in a different shaft” or “You’re making solid contact with that setup, but lets add some more weight to the toe.”
One club in particular was getting some awesome results, but the player said it didn’t feel right. So Chris was able to locate a shaft that not only kept the results but was also able to achieve the feel the player was looking for.
At the end of the fitting, you’re given a shot report detailing the average shot characteristics of every club you hit as well as a fitting profile which explains in great length not only the recommended clubs but also the reasons why they’re recommended. You’re given the option to purchase the clubs from Hot Stix after the fitting and they save your profile in their database for future use.
I didn’t go through the whole process, I attended the session with fellow golf blogger John Duval from intothegrain.com and they didn’t have the time to fit us both. So, he did the full driver & 3w fitting whilst I observed and I hopped on in the end to tune up my new TaylorMade R11. I had a custom driver fitting out at the TaylorMade Performance Lab and the timing was perfect, where I received the driver with both the stock and custom shaft a few days prior to the Hot Stix Golf fitting. I figured it’d be interesting to see what Chris thought of Travis’s recommendations. So, my first few shots with the OEM setup were pretty typical Dave Lair drives, meaning pretty extreme power fade/slice. You can see the full stats on the link above, but the spin rate for the club was 3649.
We swapped out the shaft to the Aldila R.I.P tinkered with some of the club head properties and I started hitting a draw with the spin rate dropping down to 2839. Sticking with the Aldila shaft, we made a couple more adjustments to the club and were able to reduce the spin rate 2450 and the ball couldn’t fly any straighter.
After the fitting, we went out for 18 holes on Crooked Cat, and the driver continued to impress and I ended up winning the match by three holes.
These guys know their stuff inside and out and I feel this review doesn’t adequately capture just how dynamic the fitting process is. They have a passion for their craft and they do it well. In addition to the fitting, you’ll learn a lot about your swing and how the various characteristics affect the ball flight.
I have recently become a convert to the school of custom club fitting. A custom set of clubs won’t guarantee perfect results every time, but they make the misses more manageable and produce more consistent results, which will ultimately lead to lower scores.
So you’ll pay more upfront going the custom route, but in the long run, you’ll be happy that you did.
Hot Stix Golf will be in Orlando at Orange County National until May 2011, so if you’re interested, schedule your fitting soon.