Ladies European Tour professionals like Trish Johnson, Melissa Reid and Becky Brewerton don’t have to go far to get their equipment fitted. That’s because Gene Fulton, the official LET club fitter with 26 years’ experience, is on hand at golf tournaments to ensure that the players have the latest and best gear.
Not only does he build and repair clubs for Tour players, he also drives his van from event to event around Europe where it can be set up, usually on the tournament driving range, ready for the players to start using the service early in the week.
In 2010, his second year on tour, Gene has provided players with an array of equipment and about 30 players have new Rife putters this year, including Trish Johnson, who won twice with hers in Tenerife and France, as well as Jiyai Shin, the Evian Masters champion and Frances Bondad, a joint runner-up at the Open de Espana Femenino.
Some players, like the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open champion Melissa Reid, the Lalla Meryem Cup winner Anja Monke and Virginie Lagoutte-Clement, who won the Aberdeen Ladies Scottish Open, stop in occasionally to have clubs re-gripped. On the other hand certain players, like Rebecca Hudson and Stacy Lee Bregman, are regular visitors and have been fitted with almost everything, including drivers by the likes of Cleveland and Callaway and irons by companies including Wilson.
“I’ve fitted at least 150 shafts and at least a dozen sets of iron shafts as well as a dozen grips a tournament and loads of lofts and lies,” explained Gene, the 2008 Club Maker of the Year. “It’s gone a lot better than last year and players are utilising us a lot more. We’ve got some massive names looking at coming on board next year.”
The van is fitted with an arsenal of equipment including drivers and irons, Rife and MLA putters, Golf Pride, Iomic and Black Widow grips as well as Nippon, Fujikura and Mitsubishi Rayon graphite shafts. Shaft Skinz and Vega Golf provide product, while there is clothing by Under Armour.
There is even a supply of sweets and chocolate and Gene explained that in addition to club fitter he sometimes acts as ‘coach and head doctor’ to the players.
“Sometimes when they get down, I give them a chocolate bar to cheer them up and then they’re up playing again. I’ve got sweets, manicure sets, sewing kits: you name it, I’ve got it!” he said.
Players need constant adjustments and Gene hopes to improve the service even further next year with a larger van stocked with more equipment from a broader range of suppliers.
“We’ve got more sponsors, actually giving us more stock and more manufacturers starting to realise now what we’re doing,” he said.
“We will have a bigger van next year with more equipment and more stock of everything.”