He might only be there since the start of 2017, however Ronan Collins has been busy heading up the Fota Island Academy’s new custom-fitting programme. Ronan’s appointment was just one step on a journey to refresh what was on offer from the tour standard teaching and practice facility. After upgrading their Trackman launch monitor systems, the Academy brought in club fitting systems from all of the major manufacturers. The Academy is now a one stop shop for any golfer looking to examine their game. Having launch the Academy in 2006, Fota Island reinvested in their teaching bays, and upgraded their analysis tools to incorporate the latest Trackman technology. The new Trackman 4 system can be used in the specialised indoor fitting bays or on the range, and also includes the putting analysis software making it an essential resource for the five-star resort. Ronan is a seasoned PGA Professional and is ideally placed to analyse and advise golfers having worked directly for Callaway as a club fitter for several years.
His stature as a PGA pro along with the technical fitting experience means that Collins has seen thousands of golfers and he had identified three main areas which highlight the value of the Academy’s custom fitting service. “Firstly 75% of golfers that I see are using a shaft that is too stiff” explained Collins, “this can be a result of a variety of reasons, customers watching tour players who typically swing the club upwards of 115mph using extra stiff shafts and players wanting to emulate their heroes. The great thing about using trackman is we can give customers their exact numbers; this makes the shaft conversation a lot easier.
Secondly many golfers want to use a low loft and this is a tough one for a lot of players to get a grasp of, most customers who come to me say, I want to hit it lower, why because I can’t control it in the wind and it gets too high. The issue is that most golfers look at the apex of the flight, not the launch angle of the golf ball, in fact most golfers need more loft to get the ball in the air quickly but need a reduction in backspin to keep the ball in the air for as long as possible and to allow the ball to roll for as long as it can when it hits the ground. Club length is an issue, manufacturers have increased shaft length over the last few years. This has resulted in a lot of off-centre hits for the average golfer, getting the correct shaft length definitely helps a player stay more in control.” Collins has identified one other factor that makes it more difficult for the average golfer: “The grip is the final piece of the jigsaw and is often overlooked, having the incorrect grip type or size can affect ball flight. Too thin or too thick a grip can cause an overactive or underactive release in the golf club causing lack of power and accuracy.” With fitting options from all of the major manufacturers on site, golfers have a wide choice of options while also benefitting from the full range of shaft and grip options.
While launch monitors and radar systems have been used for much of the past decade. the new Trackman technology can also be used to analyse and fit for putting. This is a new service that’s available in the Academy and utilizes the UGSA Specification putting greens in the short game area. The wireless Trackman along with an iPad can be brought onto one of the two putting greens and golfers can receive instant information and advice on the quality and mechanics of their putting stroke. Launch consistency, roll percentage and skid distance, side roll and total distance are just some of the data points that can be analysed to help a golfer to select the right specs for the right putter. Like the irons and woods, putters are available from all of the major manufacturers and the Academy is seeing a big increase in the number of golfers who are examining the mechanics and numbers behind their putting. With custom fit options from Odyssey, Scotty Cameron, Taylor Made and Ping, there are plenty of options to choose from when examining the equipment. Earlier this year the Academy made changes to the membership structure, now members of the Academy have access to play the nine holes on the Barryscourt course which adds greatly to the membership experience.
While access to the Academy is now restricted to golf club members and Academy members, anyone can book a lesson or club fitting session with Ronan. Resident PGA professional Brian Kelleher and Director of Golf Kevin Morris are also on hand to take up any extra demand throughout the busy summer months. A number of camps are starting this month aimed and kids and teenagers who are interested in taking up game. There are also a number of camps that are aimed at improvers. In addition to the junior camps, group lessons for ladies and gents are also available weekly. Details on lessons, camps and the custom fitting facilities are available from the Pro Shop in Fota Island.