Golf: Getting the perfect fit

You can always trust the Japanese to come up with innovations to make things better.

Even in golf.

For years, custom-fitting has heavily relied on human fitters who depend on their experience and observations to recommend club specifications to help golfers improve their game.

But since 2007, Mizuno has been relying on the Shaft Optimizer, a technological breakthrough which identifies components that fit a golfer's swing profile.

"The Shaft Optimizer is an exclusive tool we use to help golfers select a suitable shaft from the wide range of shafts in the market," said Shigeharu Yabumoto, manager of Mizuno's custom-fitting section in its Japan office, as he explained how its crown jewel works.

"It measures five components - the club head speed, club head tempo, shaft kick angle, release factor, and the toe down (how the shaft reacts during the swing).

"If we put these numbers in our software, it will produce a recommended shaft for the player.

"This is the strength of Mizuno custom-fitting and we have been working over the years to improve this system since it was first developed in 2007."

Yabumoto estimates that the trend of custom-fitting took off in Japan, and around Asia, at the start of the millennium, and added that the advent of social media has allowed social golfers to get all the information they need about clubs, shafts and pricing.

"All the brands have custom-fitting now and are trying to sell golf clubs through custom-fitting," he said.

"It is becoming difficult to sell clubs from off the rack. In Mizuno, 60 per cent of our customers buy custom-fitted irons, and 40 per cent off the rack. And the percentage is 50-50 for woods."

And Mizuno, who have launched the new MP series and JPX 850 series (available from Dec 14), are happy to cater to the Asian market, as well as social golfers of different proficiencies.


Kaoru Minamiyama, assistant manager of Mizuno golf and equipment product marketing, said: "For example, for Mizuno graphite shafts, we sell many different shafts compared to American specs.

"The physical power of Asians is different from Americans so we try to cater to that. We have different specs to suit the Asian players. "It's a small detail that makes a difference which customers may consider before buying clubs."

Yabumoto added: "Each golfer has his own problem with his swing or trajectory. Some are inconsistent and others have different goals in mind.

"So what we focus on in Mizuno custom-fitting is the process of the interview.

"We check what is the problem, what is the objective of the golfer, and tailor our custom-fitting to support and solve the problem."

This article was first published on Oct 18, 2014.
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