Demo Day vs a Professional Fitting – What’s the deal?

By Andrew Hodson – Golfwrx featured writer

So I get customers who show up for a scheduled fitting with an assortment of new sticks (that don’t work), and they always frustratingly say “Well I went to a demo day, and this is what they sold me”. Aaaarrrrggghhhh!!!!!!!! – When I hear that it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard.

First off, let me define (in my own words) what the two events really mean;

  1. Professional Fitting – A private fitting session with a qualified and experienced club-fitter who has no allegiance to any particular brand. The sole purpose of the clubfitter is to properly and professionally fit that particular customer to the necessary equipment with the necessary specifications needed to improve that particular golfer’s game.
  2. Demo Day – a long line of various O.E.M. tents typically staffed by “Equipment Technicians” or “Fitting assistants” or some other hourly worker or golf enthusiast. These events are typically scheduled as a courtesy to the hosting golf pro in hopes of generating sales.

Now don’t get me wrong as I obviously have a bias being a professional fitter. Demo days are a great way for most golfers to get out and actually hit the latest club offerings as opposed to just reading about them or going to the local “Big Box” and hitting them into a net. Again, I’m not knocking the demo day but just want to give everyone some advice on how to best approach the demo day and to better understand the benefits of a professional fitting. These demo day events are becoming the standard for most green grass locations. These events are in high demand simply because they are typically the key drivers of equipment sales as most green grass accounts are carrying less and less inventory because they simply can’t compete with the “big box” outlets.   It’s for this reason that most reps hire out assistants and/or hourly wage “Staffers” to “Represent” their particular brand because within any given region there may be 4 or 5 of these Demo Day events occurring on the same day. These “staffers” could honestly care less what you buy, just that you buy SOMETHING! Most of the time these temps get spiff $ or a bonus for selling a certain club (like the restaurant owner telling the wait staff to “push the fish dish” because it’s about to expire). And then there is always the crazy coincidence when the “staffer” actually makes a sale (which funnily enough happens to be the exact set of irons that have been sitting in the golf shop for 2 months!).  Now don’t get me wrong the actual territorial reps do host certain demo days, the problem is they typically host the demo day events at the more high-profile events (versus the open to the public events).

So my advice is to do your own homework and have a list of questions that you have regarding the certain clubs that you are interested in. If you ask good detailed questions regarding a certain clubs specifications or design and you get a dumbfounded look in return – well you get the idea. I would also advise to show up as soon as the event begins, so that you are not competing with a throng of other people who are there primarily to just hit free balls.  DON’T show up at the end of an event and expect great service because these guys typically get paid for a certain number of hours and when they are done – they’re done. If you are really interested in a certain brand or model, take the staffer a soda or hotdog or something, believe me a little goes a long way. Finally, please don’t waste the staffers time by going through a fitting and expecting the staffer to give you a nice printed handout of your specifications. They all know, and have been advised not to give you the fitting results because generally the customer runs off to the “Big Box” stores to purchase the clubs to use up their “points” or “trade-in” discounts. How those people can do that and still look at their pro with a straight face the next day is beyond me.

Now in regards to the benefits of a professional fitting – see #1 above!

About Andrew Hodson

I am the youngest with in a golfing family which has spanned three generations. My grandfather started the tradition in England (Bert Hodson-1931 Ryder Cup Team) and has since passed on his knowledge and love of the game. Although I did not follow in the steps of my father and grandfather on a professional golfing level, my love of the game and commitment to accurately fit equipment has only grown. Even as a kid I enjoyed re-gripping clubs which eventually led to refinishing wood heads, re-shafting, and now has culminated in more detailed custom club fitting, building, and repair.