I grab my TaylorMade Kalea driver, a handful of tees and a golf glove as I head to the Miromar Lakes Golf Club range. I arrive optimistic. Today is the day I will hit my drives long and straight. I can pretty much guarantee the latter. It’s the former I came to work on.
Thomas “Tom” Bosway, Ryan Bailey and Ryan’s father, Fran, co-own The Golf Guys shop in Bonita Springs. The family-run store has been at the pinnacle of the local golf scene since its debut in 1998, when it started as a used golf ball business before expanding into a full retail operation two years later. Tom and Ryan meet me at the Miromar practice range on an early August morning. Today, they’re showing me the club-fitting process, which starts with analyzing my swing.
The Golf Guys are experts at this, rated this year among the 100 Best Clubfitters in America by Golf Digest. Fittings are typically done in the two hitting bays at their Bonita Springs store—the team conducts about 3,000 fittings annually—and works with several area country clubs to offer demo days and fittings at the ranges.
The guys set up a TrackMan 4 launch monitor behind me. The device, which looks like a thin square briefcase, uses radar to map my shots and provide data, such as club speed, launch angle and spin rate. They start by having me hit with my Kalea for baseline data. The goal is to make any mishits better. “It’s not how good your good shots are, it’s how good your bad shots are,” Tom says. A scratch golfer, he met Fran while working as an instructor at the former Pelican’s Nest Golf Club (now The Nest Golf Club) in the mid-1990s.
Over the next hour, I try some of The Golf Guys’ latest drivers, including the current version of my Kalea, the Cobra AIR-X, two clubs from XXIO, and the TaylorMade Stealth 2. I feel like Annika Sörenstam being wooed by equipment manufacturers.
The TrackMan shows which clubs I hit the fastest, straightest and longest. Based on my swing, Tom and Ryan adjust the settings for the hosel (where the clubhead connects to the shaft) and add weights to the toe of a Ping G430. I’m consistently hitting barely right of center, and Tom says closing the face two more degrees could lead to four more yards of distance. “If you can be half a club closer off the tee, that will take a lot of stress off the game,” he says. The overall results: less spin, more ball speed, better launch angle and more distance.
Afterward, we head to the Bailey’s 10,000-square-foot shop, where rows of clubs, and clothing, bags and shoes abound. Shoppers engage in animated conversations with employees. Tom and Ryan use a Foresight GCQuad camera-based launch monitor to narrow down their top picks for me to the Ping G430 and a Callaway Paradym X, which they change to a men’s grip to get a lighter weight and better feel for the club head and create more speed in my swing. With so many shafts, club heads and grips in inventory, Ryan notes, they can make thousands of custom configurations.
Recently, The Golf Guys set up a new space a few doors down to build equipment. Because their custom clubs are made on-site by a team of seasoned builders, including Tom himself, and not ordered from the manufacturer, most are ready within 48 hours. The store has more than 30 employees, including eight fitters who visit places like the Titleist Performance Institute in California and speak directly to the engineers about the latest technological changes. Customers, which have included PGA legends Steve Stricker and Peter Jacobsen, rely on these experts and ask for employees by name when they need new clubs or repairs. “We’ve had some employees for 10 to 15 years,” Tom says. “In this business, you usually don’t see that.”
He’s adamant that a club fitting can benefit anyone—new golfers, low and high handicappers, and mature golfers, including those whose swings have been changed by health issues, such as a replacement hip. If he thinks a golfer needs a lesson before investing in new clubs, he shares that advice as well.
A few days after our fitting, I play a round using the Ping G430, the customized Callaway Paradym X and my Kalea. The clubs Tom and Ryan fit for me are straight and play 10 to 20 yards longer than my existing driver. I shoot better-than-bogey golf (which rarely happens) and even have two birdies (which has never happened). I’m convinced.