Right clubs for the job

Using snazzy equipment, the Callaway van helps local golfers.

By KELLIE DIXON, Times Staff Writer
Published December 26, 2007


Somwang Chantachote hopes one day to make it onto the Asian Tour. His ultimate dream is to play on the PGA Tour alongside his idol Tiger Woods.

So the 19-year-old University of South Florida student wanted to have the right clubs. And that's why he and his dad made an appointment for a recent Callaway Tour Fit Van appearance at Fox Hollow Golf Course.

At the van, the club specialists fit aspiring golfers by using their teaching knowledge with some snazzy equipment - a $40,000 Doppler radar launch monitor, for instance, that determines everything from club head speed to ball speed and distance.

While Chantachote dreams about making the tour, other golfers signed up for the fitting would settle for just driving the ball straight.

In either case, that's where club specialists Wrennie Love and Chris Nelson come into play. They have the nifty gadgets - Nelson used a sticker on the club face, for instance, to show Chantachote where he was striking the ball.

But they use their teaching skills, too. If the specialists see a flaw with someone's swing, they'll straighten it out.

During the Dec. 5 fitting at Fox Hollow Golf Course, Nelson helped Chantachote find the right driver, while Love assembled recently selected clubs in the van.

The back of the van is outfitted with drawers full of shafts and club heads. And with a little Sevendust playing in the background, Love finally applied the quick-drying epoxy and set them to dry. The custom-made clubs were ready in an hour.

But the price isn't cheap. Callaway currently does not charge for the fitting, but the custom-made clubs can cost a pretty penny.

Nelson said Callaway will not let him or Love make estimates.

But consider that a Callaway Big Bertha Fairway Wood with Graphite Shaft sells for $199.99 if you're shopping the Callaway Web site.

And a Callaway FT-i Driver will cost you $499.99.

Callaway has come up with an OptiFit club that makes the fitting even easier. To try a different club head or shaft, just unscrew it and screw on a new one.

"We can create more than 600 combinations for a driver in 30 seconds per club," Nelson said.

This is the same technology previously only available to the pros and the same club specialists who have worked with the pros - Nelson worked with Ernie Els and Love worked with Woods in a prior job.

Callaway has scaled down its 18-wheeler monstrosity that outfits the selective pros to a van that tours local courses and improves local games.

"All my friends think it's like a chick magnet," Nelson said. "But really it's a 40 to 50-year-old guy magnet. It's toys on wheels."

Submit feedback, story ideas to kdixon@sptimes.com or call 352 544-9480.


To learn more: 

Field trip

Want to get fitted? Call ahead if you're serious. Just go hang out if you want to see what it's all about:

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday

Where: Edwin Watts Golf Shop, 5600 N. Federal Hwy. Ft. Lauderdale 33308.

More information: Call (954) 771-3256. Visit www.callawaygolf.com and click on "Custon Fitting" for more details.