Last year we recorded a series of instruction tips and drills with Titleist ambassador and PGA professional Anders Mankert of Cosby Golf Club in Leicestershire. The videos proved very popular with Team Titleist members, so we took the opportunity to catch up with Anders to discuss how he combined his role as a teacher and a Titleist Advanced SureFit account.
What’s your ethos in terms of instruction?
The main thing is simplicity – not over-complicating things. I get a lot of golfers through the door who have been filled with technique or mumbo-jumbo, so it’s become very difficult to reproduce. My approach is to offer maybe one or two points per lesson, but frame those as part of a long term plan so there is structure – if we achieve step 1, we move onto step 2 and so on.
But you have to take into consideration the ability of the individual. There are certain principles of the golf swing, for example, that are common to all – but there are many ways to get there. For example, a 60 year old man won’t hold the club, the same way as I hold the club, but there’s a way for him to hold it that makes him play better and if he sees an improvement, he’s happy.
I’m also fortunate enough to work with English Blind Golf and a lot of international blind tournament players. The teaching process is very different for those golfers – it’s more about physically helping them to get into the right position and doing the moves with them, certainly more so than with a sighted golfer.
That just illustrates that there are different ways of teaching different players and ultimately you have to be able to identify which one of those ways will work best for that individual. The important thing is to be able to show a result, as that provides the encouragement for the golfer to continue working at their game.
And in respect of custom fitting?
To put my commitment to custom fitting into perspective, I could number the clubs that I sell off the shelf in one year on one hand. When you’re looking to buy a set of clubs or an individual club, the act of buying it is almost as important as the product – the customer has to enjoy the process. Just like when you buy a car or a holiday, the process of buying is actually part of the experience.
I therefore put a lot of emphasis on ensuring that the fitting process is enjoyable and enlightening – the golfer must feel like they have had a positive experience. Part of that positive experience is actually getting on with the guy that is fitting you – if the golfer enjoys the experience, they will talk to their friends and golfing partners about how rewarding the fitting was.
But ultimately, the golfer has to walk away with the right equipment and feel like they have had value from the fitting. I am looking to build long-term relationships with my customers, so the experience and a commitment to customer service is the number one priority.
How does the Titleist SureFit system help you to deliver that experience?
What I like about it is that it gives us endless scope for different people and different abilities – but additionally, it makes a fantastic visual contribution to the custom fitting experience. It shows any golfer that there are hundreds of options for them, but that in conjunction with my ability to fit golfers it will enable me to get to the optimum fit for them.
I can show a golfer what different shafts will do in terms of flex, torque and weight and they can try them. We can absolutely demonstrate performance – the proof is there in the flight.
We can show that the product works and that means that the golfer walks away confident in what they have been fitted for and they are itching to tell their friends about the experience.
There’s a lot of choice available today in terms of the components in a SureFit system, how do you as a custom fitter stay up to date with all of the performance differences?
It’s just my responsibility to stay up to date with what’s on the market and learn the performance difference – these are the tools of my trade. There are materials that Titleist provides and information is available online that enable me to fulfil my obligation to know the different characteristics of the components.
Having watched an individual swing their existing clubs, I can probably identify four shaft options fairly quickly, one of which will give the best results for that golfer. And the next customer that walks through the door may be choosing from four completely different options, but I have to be able to identify those and prove the performance advantage.
Other than the SureFit system, what are the tools of your custom fitting trade?
There are lots of great tools – launch monitors, video cameras and so on – but really there is no substitute for being able to watch and analyse the flight of the golf ball yourself. I like to work with the flight of the ball mainly, as it tells you what the club does – some people naturally hit the ball high, some low, some neutral and whilst a launch monitor can provide you with data on those launches, it shouldn’t be used as a prescriptive device.
We do use a 3D Flightscope launch monitor and find that really enhances the overall golfer experience. It comes into its own particularly in gap fitting for wedges and shaft analysis for irons and metals. Keeping up to date with cutting edge technology is now expected by our customers at the fitting centre.
But ultimately, the fitting is a consultative process and if you, as a fitter, understand what the objectives of the golfer are, you can decide if any given flight is right for that individual. The key to a great fit for any standard of golfer is combining an understanding of the golf swing, which I have developed through my background in teaching, and a controlled use of the technology – making sure that the numbers are used to illustrate your recommendation, rather than making it for you.
And how important is golf ball fitting as part of the process of properly equipping the golfer to play the best that they can?
It’s extremely important! I ask people every day “What type of golf ball do you play with?” and the results can be very different. It’s up to people like me to educate my students and customers as to what a difference their golf ball selection can have on their game. Titleist’s approach of fitting on performance, but taking into account preference, means that there is a Titleist golf ball for every golfer.
Golf ball fitting is the first step in giving golfers the total experience – from when they walk into the shop, to a lesson, to a custom club fitting – if you get the only piece of equipment you use for every single shot correct, the ball, then the rest of the interaction with the customer follows on in a logical manner.
What are the plans for the future for Anders Mankert?
We have established ourselves as a hub for coaching – with students travelling fairly extensively – and we are establishing ourselves as a centre for Titleist custom fitting. It’s that combination of instruction and fitting that we see as creating opportunities going forward. We are very focused, as I’ve said, on making this an experience for golfers, one that they enjoy and want to tell their friends and golfing partners about.
You went to university in the USA and spent time there afterwards – what did you learn from that time?
Well, lots of things, but from a business perspective, I think that the concentration on customer service is really what has stayed with me and is what I have tried to instil in my business.
That starts with the call to the shop or the moment someone walks through the door, but it has to be seen right through the lesson, the fitting experience and especially to after sales. We always make sure that we contact the customer within three weeks of them receiving their clubs to see how they are getting on – people don’t expect it and are delighted by the interest we are taking.
I genuinely believe that by helping golfers to become better – through instruction and custom fitting – I can help them enjoy the game more, which will only have a positive effect on bringing new golfers into the game!