First Ping nFlight Fitting Center in Texas lands at Augusta Pines Golf Club near Houston

By Mike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

SPRING, Texas -- There's only one place in Texas where you can get a club fitting experience comparable to Ping's headquarters in Phoenix, and that's at Augusta Pines Golf Club just outside of Houston.

Ping nFlight Fitting Center
Former PGA and Champions Tour player Babe Hiskey goes through a fitting at the new Ping nFlight Fitting Center in Spring, Texas.
Ping nFlight Fitting CenterMassengale Golf AcademyPing nFlight Fitting Center - John Solheim
If you go

A Ping nFlight Fitting Center has opened at Massengale Golf Academy at Augusta Pines. The experience at Massengale Academy features the same technology available at Ping's headquarters, including new nFlight fitting software designed specifically for Ping. The system allows the staff at Massengale to not only fit customers for new Ping clubs, but also to evaluate their current set.

"The real challenge in golf is to give people a proper fitting," said Ping president John Solheim, who was present for the recent grand opening. "When you can give people and extra five or 10 yards, it makes them feel really good. And I'm sure it makes Donnie (Massengale) feel really good as well. It lets us bring what we have in Phoenix to other parts of the country."

Massengale and his father, the late Don Massengale, started the Massengale Golf Academy in 2000 and moved it to Augusta Pines in 2003. Don Massengale played on both the PGA Tour and Champions Tour. The Academy is co-owned by fellow teacher Cole Smith, who became a partner with Donnie Massengale in 2007.

"I still think of dad every day," Massengale said. "He had a real positive influence on everybody he met in golf. He would have been real proud of this."

There is another Ping nFlight center in Alpharetta, Ga., just outside of Atlanta, and a third is scheduled to open in Orlando, Fla. And while many certified Ping club fitters operate at golf facilities throughout the country, the level of service at an nFlight Center, such as the one at Massengale Golf Academy, is only matched by the tour-level service performed at Ping headquarters.

Ping nFlight Fitting Center: The process

The Academy, which teaches some of the best junior golfers in the area, has three hitting bays, all equipped with the latest in swing and ball-flight analysis. Using Flightscope Kudos launch monitors, the computers can accurately measure and calculate clubhead speed, ball speed, smash factor, launch angle, sidespin and spin rate.

For example, with a driver, if there is too much backspin, the ball will tend to balloon, robbing a player of distance. Conversely, too little spin will impede ball flight, and a launch angle that is too high or two low will also rob a player of distance. The Massengale Golf Academy staff also tries to maximize clubhead speed and face angle (closed or open) by finding the right shaft to optimize both.

The nFlight fitting process begins with an analysis of a player's current set, then comparing it to alternatives. With interchangeable heads and shafts, Massengale's staff literally has more than a thousand combinations to choose from. And after getting data from a player hitting several different clubs, the nFlight software can even spit out a set recommendation, filling in any gaps, which usually involves recommending a hybrid or two. The system can even calculate the distance and characteristics based on different models of balls simply by entering it into the computer.

Ping offers wide variety of golf clubs

One aspect of the fitting not only involves the shaft flex and loft recommendations, but the type of club as well. While some players simply have aesthetic preferences, which factors into play during the initial interview, the fitting process usually reveals what type of clubs -- game improvement or more traditional types -- work best for a player based on his or her goals.

Ping's latest models, the G15, K15 and i15 irons and drivers, generally cater to different skill levels. But they don't always follow form. For example, while the i15 driver was built for the better player, the majority of pros and skilled amateurs are opting for the G15 drivers, simply because it offers the best combination of workability, forgiveness and performance for better players, Massengale said.

Of course, Ping Golf still offers many other models as well, including classic players clubs and anniversary editions of earlier irons.

Club fitting sessions are by appointment only. The entire process can take anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes depending on how many clubs are involved in the fitting session. Cost for a fitting starts at $75. For more information, call Massengale or Smith at (281) 516-1002.

Mike BaileyMike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

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