High Performance Golf Institute (HPGI) Master Club Fitter Brendan Bergin cut to the chase immediately during our conversation about why club fitting is important.–Brian Hurlburt, Founder,LasVegasGolfInsider.com.
“The pros get their clubs fitted and checked every week, why shouldn’t you?” Bergin said matter-of-factly.
Bergin should know.
Prior to his current role as HPGI’s lead club fitter, he spent about a decade traveling the major tours learning from the finest fitters while listening and observing the best players in the world talk clubs.
And more clubs …
Now he helps amateurs of all levels maximize their golf games at HPGI, which is located at Reflection Bay Golf Club at Lake Las Vegas.
“Having a club fit properly is similar to having your shoes fit properly,” Bergin says. “You can walk with shoes that aren’t fit correctly, but it’s a lot easier if you have the right size shoes on your feet. Having the correctly fit clubs, whether it be grips, shafts, different heads, it’s going to make game more enjoyable no matter the level of player you are.”
It’s safe to assume the majority of golfers go forever without a true club fitting for a variety of reasons. Bergin says players should ponder getting fit sooner rather than later.
“Everyone should get a club fit, and believe it or not, it’s the people who are starting with a higher handicap that usually should get fit because we can make the most amount of difference with them,” Bergin says. “For the average player, we can make the game much easier because we make the golf club fit them rather than trying to make a swing fit a golf club. We make sure that they’ve got something that’s going to help them get the ball in the air and get the ball to go straighter. The fitting will help them get a good feel about the swing so he or she can fall in love with the game like so many of us already have.”
Also on the HPGI staff as a club fitter and instructor is Bradley Keyer, who played at San Jose State and Creighton. Like Bergin’s mentor Fernando Amourteguy did for him, Bergin is paying it forward with Keyer.
Bergin also works closely with HPGI instructors Craig Barlow and Jeff Gallagher, who are both former PGA Tour players. Nicole Dutt-Roberts, who played at Weber State and is a PGA of America professional, is also on staff.
“How many places can you go take lessons and then also have somebody that’s part of that team who can adjust clubs, fit clubs, change clubs, work with different bounces, and other tweaks?” Barlow asks rhetorically. “We’re all a team. For example, I’ll send someone to Brendan because they’re not spinning the ball enough. He takes that info and tinkers with the lie of the club and the shafts of the club, lightening up the club or whatever is needed. Club fitting nowadays is as important as it’s ever been. That’s why the golfers are so much better is because there is so much information in all different aspects of the game.”
The result of a quality club fitting can be just some tweaks to existing clubs or it can reveal how newer clubs will outperform what currently is in a golfer’s bag. An HPGI Club fitting session starts at $99 and includes state-of-the-art Trackman technology. Bergin and his team partner with Cobra, Callaway, Titleist, TaylorMade, PING and Srixon for the best in club technology. The club fitting session is free with a purchase of $500 or more.
“We use Trackman because it has analyzed over a billion golf shots,” Bergin says. “The dual radar technology will help give us the optimal settings in terms of launch, spin and carry numbers. What that means is that you’ll get the most out of your clubs given your swing speed and path.”
Tour pros routinely use Trackman or other swing technology to pinpoint club distances. It is a weekly occurrence on Tour ranges to observe pros and caddies dialing in carry distances given the conditions of that tournament.
Understanding and being confident in your distances is arguably the most important information that can come from a club fitting.
“Knowing how far you hit each golf ball is extremely important and there are so many golfers that don’t know their numbers,” Bergin says. “We see a lot of golfers who maybe know how far they hit it once upon a time, but they don’t know how far they hit each club on a consistent basis. We can show players exact carry numbers and we can make sure a player has good gaps between clubs. The pros have all of those numbers written down and amateurs should, as well. It will make a dramatic improvement in a player’s game.”
Also important to the club fitting process is assessing a putter. After all, drive for show, putt for dough.
“We see a lot of people who bring putters to us and it’s their favorite putter and it feels great to them, but because of the head shape or the offset, they can’t line it up very well,” Bergin says. “If you can’t line the putter up, what chance do you have of making putts? A three-foot putt counts the same as a 300-yard drive or a wedge shot. The only difference is that if you miss the driver or a wedge by a little bit, you can kind of get away with it. But when you miss that three-foot putt, that’s when you get the most frustrated and it can impact your whole round.”
The 5-star testimonials are routine from everyday players to those in the industry.
“As a former member of the PGA of America and a pro-staff member on one of the largest club manufacturers in the world, I thought I had been properly fit until I had one session with Brendan on the Trackman4,” says Thomas Rojas. “My club specs were clearly off and it was clear in the data with just some basic adjustments that I never thought would be correct.”
Eric Dutt, Reflection Bay Golf Club operations director, often refers to the overall offerings at Lake Las Vegas as a golf ecosystem. Gallagher agrees and is happy to be a part of the scene, which includes two Jack Nicklaus courses, the HPGI and massive practice facility, two resorts, residential living and more.
“We have a variety of everything that the golf golfer wants, not just teaching,” Gallagher says. “The ownership and management are committed to what we are doing. Now that I have quit playing, it doesn’t get any better than coming to work here every day. It’s the enjoyment of seeing people succeed and being there to help them when they fail, which is inevitable in golf. I think we just have a very special place out here.”
Seems to fit perfectly for all involved, in more ways than one.
This is a third in a series of articles highlighting Reflection Bay Golf Club at Lake Las Vegas and the High Performance Golf Institute. Reflection Bay is a course partner of LasVegasGolfInsider.com.