Chris Tuten, a Titleist tour rep and expert club fitter, is one of the most interesting men in golf. Tuten, a former assistant golf coach at the University of Florida, is articulate and straightforward. When he talks about life on the PGA Tour, people listen.
Question: Do you consider 45 inches to be standard length for a driver?
Tuten: Yes, 45 inches is Titleist standard, because it’s the best combination of distance and accuracy. But keep in mind (because there is no industry standard for measuring length) a 45-inch driver from Titleist is a quarter inch shorter than many other 45-inch drivers.
Question: How long are drivers on the PGA Tour?
Tuten: Rickie Fowler, 45 and a quarter. Zach Johnson, same thing. Ben Curtis is one of the longest at 46, but he’s been messing around with a 45-inch driver. On the short side, Geoff Ogilvy is 44 and a quarter. So is Bobby Gates. Bobby is one of the tallest guys out here (6-foot-5). You look at him on the range, it looks like he’s playing a kid’s club.
Question: So what’s the lesson here?
Tuten: All golfers are individuals, and there is no such thing as fitting a player strictly by the way he looks.
Question: Ogilvy’s driver is different from most, isn’t it?
Tuten: Of all the players I know, Geoff is the most upright and the most shut with a driver. You might not think that’s the proper fit for a Tour player. You might think all Tour players play open (faced) golf clubs. Well, they don’t.
Question: Is there something else to be learned?
Tuten: Know your own swing, play your own game.
Question: What is the No. 1 invention that has made fitting simpler and quicker on the PGA Tour?
Tuten: The adjustable hosel. It is amazing. It has basically taken the handcuffs off fitting. We are able to do it (change loft or lie) much more precisely than before.
Question: Before, meaning the era of changing loft or lie with a bending bar?
Tuten: Yes. Bending works, but it isn’t always very precise. You bend a club, and sometimes a player will ask you to bend it back to where it was before. Good luck with that.
Question: So, with the adjustable hosel, you can do or undo all these lofts and lies?
Tuten: Absolutely. When I get a player who needs a certain lie angle, I’m able to fit four different effective loft changes within that lie.
Question: How many Tour players use a 13.5-degree 3-wood as opposed to a 15-degree 3-wood?
Tuten: I would say about 40 percent play the lower loft. You need a lot of clubhead speed to get it up in the air.
Question: Is the 2-iron dead?
Tuten: No. We have a lot of guys carrying them the second week of July (British Open week). We have to stock a lot of 2-irons over there. It’s a fun week.
Question: Does everybody out here on Tour used X-flex clubs?
Tuten: Mostly, yes. There aren’t many S’s. All these guys want to swing an X. A lot of times, I don’t want them to think about it, so I’ll take an X and put it in without tipping it (trimming the tip). That way it plays between an S and an X.
Question: How much do you normally tip on Tour?
Tuten: Our standard (for a driver) is an inch and a half. For Gary Woodland, it’s two inches.
Question: How impressive is this guy?
Tuten: Gary can lean back and hit his 2-iron 275 yards. It’s a real advantage to be able to drive it 350, and he can do it.
Question: Forget the Tour for a minute. Is this the Golden Age of golf clubs for consumers?
Tuten: I’ll say this: Golf clubs have never been better. I feel confident in saying that any golfer can find the perfect set.