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Yesterday my home course held a "customer appreciation day". Ping, Nike, Callaway, Taylormade and Cobra/Titleist had tents up and demo equipment. They had contests, giveaways, a long drive demo (ah hell - even I could hit 400 yds with a 47 inch shaft and 5 degree loft ...... NOT!) and even free food.

So I had told myself this year that I'd get custom fit for a driver once my shoulder was back to normal. Then, earlier this week I did the Bridgestone ball fitting thing and found out my swing speed had gotten into the respectable high 107s. I had tried some low torque shafts a couple years ago and was intrigued. Now, with the new swing speed awareness (the last time I was measured years ago, breaking 100mph was tough), there was the possibility of moving from a stiff to extra stiff flex shaft. The ball fitting also suggested switching from a tour ball (the Bridgestone 330s to a distance ball (the E7) because of my low ball flight off the tee. I do love the spin of the tour balls on the green though. Then I said to my self "Self - why not try a 10.5 loft instead of a 9.5?" The perfect answer: demo days! Compare stiff vs extra stiff shafts and 9.5 vs 10.5 lofts!

The only problem was that these sharpies were selling clubs too, and at below Internet pricing. That's the beware part - I ended up ordering a new driver and 3 wood!

A few other observations:
Get on the mailing lists. I'd been to the course the week before and had not seen anything about this event. But I did get an email.

Some of the demo guys were pretty good at handing out swing tips. Others would keep their mouths shut and let you swing. Sometimes you have to ask the question right!

The best line of the day was when someone had grabbed a club from a tent and wandered way down to the end of the range line to try it. The demo rep tracked him down and asked him to please come back near the tent so he could keep an eye on his clubs. On the way back, he asked the guy "Have you ever swung a women's club before?"

General recommendations don't always apply across club models. I was hitting one 9.5 club pretty good (I thought), but the observation was my launch angle was below optimum and the recommendation was a higher loft club. Sure enough, going to a 10.5 gave me more distance. But later on, I was a hitting a 9 degree loft club the same way. Sheesh.

The new adjustable shaft technology is a huge boon for demos. You've got many more options to choose from for trying clubs and there's no more waiting for that one club you want because someone else is trying it. I walked away from one tent that only had high torque shafts and no adjust-ability.

If you like long tees, bring your own. Don't forget to bring a glove! Also, either bring your clubs or know what you have. They're going to ask what your swinging now.

Know what you want to demo. When asked what he was interested in, a guy gave a one minute answer, The demo guy replied, "That's great, but not very helpful. Let's start with what kind of club you want to try: driver, fairway, irons ...". When I told a rep I wanted to compare XS vs S shafts and 9.5 vs 10.5 lofts I got much better service.

I thought the long drive demo would be boring, except for a quick peek. I was busy buying clubs but the part that I did see was very informative. Ok - he was saying stuff we already knew, but watching him hit what he was talking about was helpful (e.g. hitting a drive with the ball teed ridiculously low vs half the ball above the club face). Of course, seeing a gorilla hit a 400 yard drive dead straight into a 15 mph wind is something you should not miss.

My new clubs should arrive at home by next Friday and, ah, they did not take a credit ard number. It's a damn shame I'm so honest.