Taylormade Performance Labs – Part 1

Club fitting has been a hot topic as of late on the THP forums, so we wanted to do something a little unique and more in depth to find out about one of the top notch facilities in the world when it comes to proper fitting. The Hackers Paradise is doing a three part series on the Taylormade Performance Labs and what makes them so special. The different articles will focus on completely different sectors of the golf world and showcase each one of them going through a fitting. In our research what we found is that more and more of the golfers today are getting fitted for their clubs. However 2 groups of players seem to be avoiding it and we wanted to know why. The senior golfers and the female golfers both seem to be the least likely to get properly fitted for new clubs when they are ready to make their purchase. Well, we here at THP, wanted to do something different so we sent a senior golfer and a female golfer to the Taylormade Performance Labs in Orlando, FL to showcase what it is all about. In part 1 of our series we will strive to introduce you to the Performance Labs, as we bring our senior golfer in for his fitting. We will showcase the studio in both pictures and video and hope it helps to understand exactly what they have going on here and why they are considered by many to be the premier destination for club fitting.
Click each image to enlarge
Entering the studio we were met by Travis Kent, Master Club Fitter, and the first thing you notice is it feels as though you are entering a bank vault. Travis was great in getting everybody acclimated, as Larry (our golfer) had never gone through any type of fitting before. It seems as though Larry being 6’3, has always based his clubs on what felt right. He liked his clubs about an inch longer than normal and had never thought much about anything more than length and shaft flex. Larry is a 12 handicap and plays 2-3 days per week.
Here is Larry’s current golf bag setup:

Driver – Taylormade 2009 Burner with Graphite Design Aura R Flex Shaft
Fairway Wood – Cobra F Speed R Flex Stock Shaft
Hybrids – Nickent 3DX 3, 4, & 5 with R Flex Shaft
Irons – Taylormade Burner Plus 6-PW with R Flex graphite shafts
Wedges – Bridgestone WC Design Liquid Copper
Putter – Yes! Golf Madison putter
Background and Space Suit
Travis spent the next few minutes going over the process in detail and getting background information on Larry’s current setup of clubs as well as his current golf game. After going through his golf bag, they spent some time talking about his game and in detail about his shotmaking. Where our golfer misses and what his ball flight is. Then it was time to get into his “space suit” for the fitting. Here is a video showing exactly what the suit is and what goes into getting prepared for the fitting.

It is important to note that there were more items put on before the fitting began. Shoes, elbows, hat, etc… We asked Larry if these constricted or hindered his swing and the answer was no, they did not. Once all of the pieces were in place, the cameras surrounding the room build a computer image of you. 26 sensors total on your body are “read” by 9 high speed cameras.
Taylormade Performance Labs use a fitting process called Motion Analysis Technology by Taylormade. Most call the system MATT. MATT gathers swing information and statistics using the high speed cameras mentioned above to create a sophisticated computer image of your golf swing viewable from any angle you would like. Before the Taylormade Performance Labs, fitting such as this, were just not available to consumers at this level. The MATT system is capturing information based on these characteristics and then fitting your clubs accordingly.

* Clubhead Path
* Swing Planes
* Speed Planes
* Center Of Gravity
* Body Line on Shoulders, Hips, Knees, Toes, and Spine
* Face Angle
* Target Line
* Ball Position
* Head Position
* X – Factor ( Relationship between Shoulder Turn and Hip Turn)
* Shaft and Shoulder Plane
* Wrist Cocking Angle
* Shaft Line
* Shaft Deflection
* Posture Lines
* In/Out Path of Club
* Up/Down Path of club
* Hand Speed
* Clubhead Speed
* Effective loft of the club at impact
* Ball Speed
* Launch Angle
* Backspin
* Side spin
* Ball Trajectory
* Computed Distance and Roll
Lets Get To Swinging

Here is a video of Larry’s first swing of the day and Travis start to show what the computer is picking up. You will notice that the clubs used are also outfitted with a suit so to speak.

While swinging, Larry was fascinated with more than just the fitting. Because at Taylormade Performance Labs, this is more than just a fitting. You are getting a lesson at the same time. Travis’s goal was to assist Larry in becoming a better golfer. Both via clubs and swing analysis.
Larry’s fitting involved him hitting 3 clubs. A driver, 6 iron, and a putter. He hit multiple shots with each club and after each shot Travis and Larry got together to analyze the both the swing and the club fitting. Travis would show the swing from different angles and explain why certain aspects in clubs would help him or in some cases hurt him.

The Fitting Outcome
After all the swings had taken place Larry and Travis worked on a couple of swing issues. Like we mentioned above, this really is a lesson and a fitting all in one. Then they went to work on his clubs. Both the computer and Travis agreed that Larry’s irons fit into his game nicely. Both the length and the lie angle seemed to be appropriate with what he currently has. Travis also spoke about the possibility in making some changes to his driver and his putter. The beauty of working with Taylormade Performance Labs and Travis Kent is that the changes were made on the spot. Travis took Larry’s Yes! Madison putter and adjusted it to fit his specifications and then started to assemble some drivers for Larry to test out on the range outside.
Travis being the master club fitter that he is, figured out the perfect match of club head and shaft for the driver with the help of the MATT system. However it is important to note that they have just about every shaft on hand that you could think of and make sure that they “marry” the driver head to the shaft perfectly for your swing.
Larry took the new assembled driver out to the range and was ready to give it a try. They went with a Taylormade R9 460 driver head at 10.5 degrees and paired that with a REAX 60 gram shaft in regular flex extended an extra inch in shaft length. Larry took aim and started hitting the driver. Within 5 swings he proclaimed that he needed one and is now the proud owner of a new driver. “The feeling of hitting the new driver after going through the process with Travis was night and day. Obviously I have a lot going through my head from the lesson that he gave me, but the driver seemed to match my swing now and the results showed”, said Larry.
The conclusion

Before we left the “vault”, Travis made sure that he put together a folder for Larry to take with him. The folder contains a CD of all the swing sequences that were made as well as the club recommendations that both Travis and the MATT system feel confident about. Larry has been able to sum up the entire process in one sentence, “It was fascinating”.

So why are more senior golfers not getting professionally fit? We are not sure of the answer to that entirely. However in a recent survey in which we polled 240 golfers over the age of 55, the number one reason given is that they do not understand the process and why it will help them. Hopefully Part 1 of our Taylormade Performance Labs piece will help them with that a bit and encourage people to get fitted properly. Little equipment tweaks here and there can change the way you strike the ball forever.

Stay turned for Part 2 of our Taylormade Performance Labs article coming up soon. For more information about fittings at their studios or to find the closest location to you, check out their website at www.tmplabs.com. You can also follow the TM Performance Labs on their Facebook page to see more pictures and chat with others who have gone through this experience.

Till Next Time

Josh B.

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