This is the second post in our occasional series, in conjunction with world-renowned Vista-based golf shaft manufacturer and supplier Fujikura, about golf shafts, the fitting process and fitters. In this installment, we profile Fujikura fitter Marshall Thompson, who talks about some of his famous fits from 2013, including the LPGA’s Michelle Wie, and looks back on the year in fitting and what’s ahead.
Name: Marshall Thompson
Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ
College: Two years at Palomar College followed by two years studying abroad at the University of London.
Playing experience: After being introduced to the game by his dad, Marshall quickly became hooked and started playing junior tournaments. He then played all four years at Rancho Buena Vista High before walking on at Palomar College and playing two years. His parents were members at Shadowridge CC in Vista. “Golf has been my passion for a long time.”
Career at Fujikura: Five years. Marshall started out as an intern under Pat McCoy and John Hovis. “They taught me everything about fitting.” He’s now runs the Fit-On studio with John Hovis and did fitting the past year on the Web.com Tour. He also works with tour departments of OEM’s and is involved in prototyping and design and testing of new product.
Years of fitting experience: 8. He started out doing demo days in San Diego and North Country for TaylorMade while at Palomar.
Fit philosophy: Everyone comes in with a swing fingerprint. That’s what we work with to get your head to square on time and for the shaft to load properly.
How to maximizing your fitting: Coming in with an open mind, ready to learn and trust the process. Too many people come in and say, “My swing speed is this, so I need an X flex.” That’s not always the case. Come in ready to experience the process, digest the data and learn how shafts really affect launch and spin.
Biggest fitting development in 2013: I think it was just a greater overall acceptance of fitting, which in itself is huge. I think people are really starting to listen to the message we’ve been really trying to ingrain of going to get fit. Spend the money, spend the time to get into the right product. It’ll change your game. It seems more people are seeing the results of that and it’s helping them play better. And I think the process is getting easier, and more fun, too, because of the technology.
Fitting challenges for 2014: Our challenge, as always, is to design for what the equipment companies are producing. Right now, that’s low spin and that might mean moving back toward a higher spinning type of shaft rather than what we’ve been doing the past few years. It’s always a counter-balance to whatever the manufacturers are doing.
Fit insight: We’re a shaft company, but a fitting is a head and a shaft. We’re here the find the perfect marriage of the two.
Famous fits: Michelle Wie. She was a real highlight. She came in this year and was phenomenally nice – and tall!
She has a great swing and a great personality. She was a lot of fun to work with. She’s a hard swinger by lady’s standards (104 mph) and we put her in a very stiff shaft (a 7.2 Tour Spec X flex).
We decreased her spin by 400-500 RPM’s and actually flattened her trajectory and got her a little more rollout, distance. And her dispersion stayed tight. It worked out well.
She’s fundamentally sound and her swing is as good as it gets.
On the men’s tour side, we had Jason Gore come in from the Web.com Tour. He’s a character and a really funny guy.
He’s a high-launch, high-spin guy, but we got him into a driver with a new CG, a little bit more forward and high. He was able to launch it low and get his spin down around 2,200-2,300, which he hadn’t seen before. He needed a new head and shaft combination. Sometimes it’s not one or the other; it’s both.
He really got the benefit of some of the new technologies with heads and shafts.
Outside of the tour, we had former baseball player Jermaine Day. We got him another 15 yards. He swings about 112 mph so he comes at it pretty hard. We decreased his loft and gave him a stout handle. He was a lot of fun to fit.
With baseball players, it’s always curious to see how much of their baseball swing is reflected in their golf swing, but, as a group, they’re all very fast from the top down.