Review: Taylormade Performance Lab Fitting - MN

Fit Like a King Locally
Taylormade’s ultimate fitting lab is called the Kingdom.  It is located at their headquarters in Carlsbad, CA.  It is where they fit their tour pros with the newest gear.  Amateurs can also get a fitting there for around $5k.  While that experience is out of this world, I think the local Performance Lab fittings treat you like a king, plus you don’t have to travel across the country. Another perk is that you can return for a tune up at a much more reasonable price.  With 21 locations around the country,  you should be able to find one in your nearest major metro.  I think Taylormade really knows how to fit you like a king locally at their Performance Labs.
Minnesota’s Taylormade Performance Lab is run by James Tracy – an accomplished golfer and fitter – that is the heart and sole of the TMPL in MN.  The benefit of getting fit by James is the relationship you can build with him during your fitting.  His job is to make you comfortable for the fitting and then get you in something that will perform better for you.  His knowledge of both the swing and equipment will show itself very quickly during the fitting.  Being able to pick his brain during the experience as well as the ability to return is part of what makes a local fitting great.  Let’s say you got fit in February in MN and by the time May rolls around and the snow has melted, your swing has changed; you can go back to James and adjust your needs.

 

The Taylormade Performance Lab in MN is located on the Rush Creek Golf Course range.  They really go all out when it comes to the set-up of the lab.  The vault style door is really cool, and once you are inside, there is a plethora of equipment for the fitting:  every current club and shaft that Taylormade offers, a full workshop capable of building/tweaking your entire set, a Foresight Launch monitor, a MAT-T fitting system and a computer tied to a giant flat screen so you can see all the data. (Just about everything you can see in the picture above.)

Upon entrance James starts talking about where you are at and where you’d like to be at the end of the fitting.  He starts entering a whole bunch of data into the computer while you warm up hitting balls.   This time is important to get loose and comfortable in the fitting center.  Winter fittings are obviously all indoors, but once the snow melts it becomes a combo indoor/outdoor fitting.  The MAT-T system is indoors, but after that is done, you can hit balls out onto the range.  I probably hit a couple dozen balls while we were chatting about my current clubs and game.

The coolest part of the fitting is the MAT-T (Motion Analysis Technology by TaylorMade).  You put on an avatar like suit so that the 6 cameras can capture every little motion of your body from your shoes to your head including the club.  It translates all the data and creates your swing on the screen with data for every point.  What are you shoulders doing in relation to you hips and what is the result of the club.  They also have the ability to compare your swing to a Tour Pro composite, or anyone else in the system.   While some of these things can be seen on simple video, the actual data and angles need all the points of reference.  As you can see below, I don’t have a tour swing, but as James pointed out, my impact position was really good, which is the actual key to consistency.  While you might think it takes 100s of swing to get a sense of consistency, James says that actually 6 swings of a pro or amateur are enough to show a golfers tendencies.

Once all those data points are collected then it is time to remove the avatar suit and start hitting your current clubs.  This gives them a baseline of what you are currently playing.  The goal is to find something that is better than what you currently play.  While it might be possible that you are playing the absolute best clubs for you (especially if you were fit for them) there is a good chance something might tweakable for even a little more performance benefits.  I was just doing an iron fitting this day since the new Taylormade irons have all come out recently and I wasn’t sure which ones would be best for my game.  After hitting my current set of Ping irons, James explained that they were pretty good, but there were a few things that could be improved upon.  The main issue was my trajectory/spin that could be brought down just a little for a little more control and distance.

I didn’t hit every iron in my bag, but I did hit 6,8, PW and Lob Wedge.  This allowed us to not only get one club to fit me, but get the gapping and distances dialed in so that my whole bag would fulfill my needs.  We messed with lie angles, head styles, shaft types and finally settled on the Taylormade MC irons with DG S400 shafts.  One really cool tidbit of information was how the lie angle of my wedges should be 1* flat based on shaft deflection or should I say lack of shaft deflection. (the vertical bend of a shaft during the swing)  He described exactly what happens on some of my wedge shots without seeing me hit any.  It is that knowledge that really seals the deal that James knows what he is doing and then the data shows the performance gains are real.

I went out to the Taylormade Performance Lab with my friend and fellow golf writer @Spyzinger of MyGolfSpy.com.  He did a driver fitting while I did an iron fitting.  It was really interesting to see the similarities and difference between the two.  He was able to pick up +20 yards with a new driver and the dispersion was tighter; the best of both worlds. Surprisingly best fitting driver was not what he expected, but the results don’t lie.  I didn’t pick up +20 yards of performance improvement, but I am confident that my new clubs fit my needs better than what I was playing.

If you want to get treated like a king during your fitting, check out a local Taylormade Performance Lab.  Minnesota golfers need to check out James Tracy at Rush Creek in Maple Grove.  I left my fitting impressed and educated.  I can’t wait for my new set of irons to arrive.  Since golf is such a mental game, having clubs perfectly fit for you really helps your confidence.  The cost of a full bag fitting is around $400 and specific clubs cost less.  Expect it to take a couple hours, depending on how many clubs you are getting fit for. Also if you place an order you get a discount off your clubs based on the amount you sped.  Why buy an expensive driver or irons that aren’t fit for you?  You will probably save yourself money in the long run and you will certainly save yourself strokes.  Check out the Taylormade Performance Lab listing below to find where you can get “Fit Like a King Locally.”

For more information: http://taylormadegolf.com/performancelab

Quick Hits:
+Personal relationship with fitter
+Same technology used at Kingdom
+Every Taylormade club and shaft to try
+Indoor and outdoor fittings available
+Local fitting and ability to return if needed

–Taylormade products only.