Expansion makes Miles of Golf in Ypsilanti an equipment buff's dream
YPSILANTI, Mich. — You can debate how much the actual golf club matters in a swing all you want. Many golfers swear by the irons they played in high school two decades ago. Others are always on the lookout for the newest edge, whether it be a more consistent shaft or bigger sweet spot, dropping hundreds to thousands of dollars in the process.
At Miles, gone are the days of simply putting a piece of protective tape on a stock club's face or using standard demos when sampling new clubs. They've recognized the obsession so many players, especially in golf-crazed Michigan, have with finding the newest golf technology.
Now, they're treating the club-buying process with the kind of attention Paris Hilton might expect on Rodeo Drive.
"Today, having equipment is just not enough," said Chris Miles, owner of Miles of Golf. "We feel the components of proper fitting and instruction is crucial to satisfying the needs of our clientele."
So how far down the rabbit hole are you willing to go?
Golfers interested in a more traditional approach to club-fitting, yet still want the attention their big purchase should deserve, pay $15 for a day's worth of club-fitting at Miles' Cluboratory. Here, staff members oversee a pro shop's worth of demo drivers, woods and irons — all at the buyer's disposal.
They hit clubs of various planes and lengths, thus finding the club most fit for them. If the club or iron set isn't in stock, Miles orders the set and it usually shows up in a matter of days.
The $15 fitting fee is waived should you end up buying a club, either that day or in the future, as long as you hang on to the receipt.
Paying to test clubs is something that was first met with some skepticism by Miles' staff when he first implemented it years ago, but it's been so successful, they've expanded Cluboratory this summer with Maxx Driver Fitting.
If only your stock broker or physician paid as much attention to you as this new service. Over the course of an hour and 40-60 swings, each nuance is measured by a state-of-the-art Vector Launch Monitor, including trajectory, backspin, sidespin and where you'll most likely hit the ball on the clubface.
"There's a science to it all," said Lee Kanzler, club-fitter at Miles of Golf. "We've gone through over 40 years of research and development in the fitting process. It makes it easier for us to go where that player should be to get the most out of their driver."
Maxx Driver Fitting isn't cheap, starting at $90 for an hour session, where "patients" unload between 40-60 balls to get a large enough sample size. Unlike their standard club-fitting procedure, it's only partially refundable with the purchase of a driver, with $40 credited to your purchase.
But as sophisticated as the launch monitor gets, it can't get inside the noggin of any golfer, which is why the entire process is guided by a specialized club fitter.
"It's a guided discovery," Kanzler said. "I ask questions and, if you're honest, I can help. They don't necessarily lie … but sometimes they're ‘optimistic,' but questions are a part of what we do to make sure we get the right club for them."
Aside from an actual golf course itself, Miles has just about anything a golfer could ask for. The pro shop, which was doubled in size last year, has everything new in equipment and apparel, plus a "Bargain Bunker," featuring discounted used and demo clubs.
Of course, what good are all your new toys if you don't know how to use them? The Kendall Academy, featuring 2006 Michigan PGA Professional of the Year Dave Kendall, has grown along with Miles of Golf almost since its opening. Kendall and his staff specialize in one-on-one lessons featuring video surveillance from multiple angles of each student's swing.
Miles also has a putting green and short-game area, making it one of the most inclusive practice facilities in the state.
So far this summer, Maxx Driver Fitting's response has been far greater than expected.
"It's bigger than we thought," Miles said. "We thought we'd do three or four a week, but we've started out doing 25."
If you're going to pay $300-500 for a driver, $50 for scientific proof you bought the right club might not sound too steep.
August 10, 2006