A simplequestion: Would you buy a high-priced sports car just because it looks good? Won’t you also look under the hood and check out the engine? Of course you will.
Well, why don’t more golfers take the time to “look under the hoods” of those sleek, pricey new drivers that are constantly coming onto the market and consider what really makes the club work….the shaft?
Fujikura, one of the leading shaft makers in the world and the number one metal wood shaft brand on the PGA Tour for eight years, is doing its best to inform the consumer on the vital importance of being fit for the right shaft in order to maximize on-course performance. What PGA Tour pros and serious amateurs have known for so long average players are becoming aware of: The shaft is perhaps the single most important tool in optimizing the playing potential of any club.
To that end, Fujikura early this year launched what it calls the Fujikura Fit-On Academy at its California facility. Golfers can schedule a visit to the Academy where they will be put through a comprehensive fitting experience that will produce a wealth of detailed information that will allow the participant to determine what shaft is right for his or her particular swing. If you can’t make it to the Fit-On Academy don’t worry. Fujikura has developed an extensive list of custom clubmakers all over the country that have access to testing procedures and information direct from Fujikura via the Internet. When customers call or visit the Fit-On Academy at the company’s website, www.fujikuragolf.com, he or she will receive a list of dealers in their area and contact information. Simply set up a meeting with the dealer and get fitted.
“We used fitting technology from Japan and put a U.S. spin on it,” said Fujikura president, David Schnider. “We developed our own software and opened the fitting center to educate our OEMs, sales, technical and customer service people how it all works. Then we set up an extensive network of clubmakers that are Fujikura dealers. We passed our information about clubfitting along to our dealers so they can use it effectively.”
Those who choose to visit the Fit-On Academy in person enjoy a unique experience similar to that of a Tour pro who wants to refine his or her game, said Schnider.
“There is so much information that we produce. The fitting takes about four hours--an hour just for the driver--and it’s a true fitting experience. We aren’t in the business of selling Fujikura shafts. Rather we give our customers information and recommendations and they can choose to use it as they see fit. They can buy through an OEM dealer or visit a clubmaker, who will look at the numbers and perhaps tweak things a bit and make his own recommendations.”
Well known and appreciated by Tour players for years, Fujikura has in recent years made a determined effort to get quality shafts into the hands of players of all levels.
“We have always started at the top of the pyramid of influence with PGA Tour players,” said Schnider. “We have a Tour Series line of shafts that are a little more expensive and made with high grade materials that are for the stronger players. We launched a line that we call the Essential Series that has shafts ranging from a shaft for women and a player with a slow swing speed right on up to professional players. I think we have increased awareness of the importance of the shaft, and we believe the average player can benefit greatly from geeing fit properly.”
He added, “The average golfer sees a new driver on a television commercial and thinks that’s the one for him. He buys it off the shelf and hits it pretty well. But he may not be maximizing his performance because he might not have the proper shaft for his swing. It’s amazing when people come to the Fit-On Academy. We haven’t had anyone who hasn’t had better ball performance by going through the fitting lab. On an average, people are getting 15 to 20 yards more distance with a driver.”
Think of buying a golf club as you would a new suit, said Schnider. “You can go in and buy something off the rack and look pretty good. Or you can have your exact measurements taken and then have something custom made. You are going to look 100 percent better and feel better about the suit having it custom made.”
Schnider said feedback from those who have visited the Fit-On Academy or the network of Fujikura clubmakers and dealers has been “absolutely tremendous.
“Usually, people follow up if they have had a bad experience and sometimes no news is good news. But in this instance we have had an overwhelming number of people call back and say `Wow, this really works for me.’”
While perhaps not as unique as a visit to the Fit-On Academy, Schnider said getting fit at one of the clubmakers in the Fujikura system is a detailed process.
“Don’t worry if you can’t come out to California. We have people at Fujikura talking to our dealers every day helping them understand how our fitting works. The dealers have access to an online calculator and they are plugging the same numbers in and coming up with recommendations on shafts. Maybe they have their own techniques, but you are getting a similar fitting.”
Schnider believes golfers are taking heed and finally grasping the importance of the shaft when it comes to the overall performance of a club, whether it is the driver or a set of irons.
“The young guys really get it and they are always switching shafts and experimenting. We have aimed some of our focus on the plus-35-year-old golfer, the weekend players who may be 15 handicappers but want to improve their games. Those are the people that our Essential Series can help and the word is getting out. You don’t have to be a Tour player to benefit from technology and that’s especially true when it comes to the shaft.”
For more information about Fujikura and the Fit-On Academy, call 866-766-2291 or visit www.fujikuragolf.com.