Club fitting can be a fun experience. A player will learn a little bit about their swing and how a different set of clubs might help them hit the ball a little bit better. My friend John Nichols, aka LaJethro Jenkins in social media circles, did not get a little bit better. He got a lot better.
John and I met on Twitter. I was a huge fan of his Jenkins and Jonez basketball podcast and noticed he was occasionally posting videos from the driving range that I frequent near LAX. He was a passionate beginner and I offered to meet up for a bucket and give him a few pointers.
We talked about the golf swing for about two minutes. The next two hours we discussed careers, politics, marriage, fatherhood, basketball, Los Angeles and a dozen other topics. I knew we’d be friends. A year later we started a podcast called Grassroots that mirrored our range sessions where 90% of the discussion about life and 10% about golf.
John’s pride in his native St. Louis is something I love about him. We often talk about where we are from and how different it is from where we find ourselves today. John’s knowledge of self and place has inspired me to dig into the story of his hometown. I’m ecstatic to include St. Louis in our docuseries Migrations and especially Forest Park Golf Course.
John’s a left handed player who generates an impressive amount of speed for someone who’s only played the game a few years. Like many of us he played different sports growing up, including baseball (his family tree includes Hall of Famer Cool Papa Bell.)
John consumes a lot of golf content on YouTube. He’s a big fan of Roger Steele’s videos. “Roger’s always telling people to get lessons so I signed up for some lessons” he told me. That critical early investment has paid dividends.
When we first met John had a set of Callaway Big Bertha irons that were about a dozen years old. I mentioned he might want to look into replacing them and maybe getting a club fitting. He wasn’t hearing it. “My grandmother gave me these clubs and I’m never letting them go.”
It was John’s grandmother who first introduced him to golf. When John graduated from college his grandmother gifted him a set of irons as a gift. The clubs sat largely idle, but John kept them as he moved around the country before settling in Los Angeles. Then came the pandemic.
The COVID pandemic has been a long global nightmare. Very little good has come of it. The only positive I can think of is that golf became attractive to many people who were waiting for a reason to give the game a try. John was one of those people.
Golf is hard. Most beginners struggle. John struggled but he also had flashes of brilliance. His regular flex clubs were not helping him. A club fitting was in order.
John and I met his coach Kevin at the new West Los Angeles GOLFTEC I was interested to see what kind of clubs and specifications John would come away with. Prior to the fitting I mentioned to John that there were many great options and that he’d do well to give them all a look. John wasn’t hearing any of it. “I’m a Callaway man” John declared, a nod to his grandmother.
Turns out grandmother knows best. After an hour of swings and data with Coach Kevin, John came out of the club fitting session fit for Callaway irons and a driver. The results are staggering.
Before the club fitting I was notably longer than John with the driver. In the irons, we were about even. All of that has changed. Post club fitting John is roughly twenty yards longer with his new Rogue irons than he was before. His old six iron was 185-190, now it’s 210 yards. And it is an absolute laser show.
The Callaway driver he got is obscene. “Same shaft as Tiger” he likes to tell me. All I can tell you is that when he hits it well, he hits it really, really well. And it goes a long way. Farther than I can hit it, that’s for sure. If you’re wondering, he came out of the club fitting with the Callaway Rogue low spin driver.
The future looks bright for John. Typically new fathers don’t get to play a lot of golf, but John’s got the net in the backyard and is a frequent visitor to Golftec for lessons and practice sessions. My prediction is he’ll break 80 for the first time in 2023 and who knows how low he’ll take it from there.
And in case you’re wondering, he’s framing his old clubs.