Imagine going to the store to buy a suit and finding every suit on the rack is a size 42-regular. Or suppose you want to buy a pair of shoes and your only choice is a size 10C or nothing else. While you might find different colors or brands or even quality, every suit or pair of shoes is the exact same size.

Seems kind of crazy, doesn't it?Yet go into any sporting goods store and try to buy a set of golf clubs and you'll get one size if you're male and another slightly smaller, lighter version if you're female. It doesn't matter if you're 6-foot-11 or 5-foot-2, the clubs are the same size. Do you have big hands? Small hands? Doesn't matter, the grips will all be the same size. Do you have an upright swing or a flat swing? Who cares, the lie and loft on the clubs will be pretty standard.

While most folks would never consider buying a shirt two sizes too small, golfers have never questioned the "one-size fits-all" philosophy of the golf industry. But that seems to be changing as golfers try to find clubs to fit their games.

One of the hottest trends in golf is the burgeoning business of custom club fitting, that is, fitting a golf club to an individual's specific needs. It sounds logical, but it's not a simple thing to do. It's easier to walk into a store and find a set of clubs that you read about in a magazine or saw a pro golfer using and plunk down your money and be on your way.

However, to get a set of custom clubs, you may have to fill out a form or be interviewed, have your swing analyzed for a half-hour or so and then wait a couple of weeks for your new clubs to be made.

The basic premise behind club-fitting is that because everyone has a different body with a distinct swing and setup, their clubs shouldn't be the same. Along the Wasatch Front, there are a dozen or so businesses that cater to custom-built clubs.

Even golf outlets that don't make custom clubs from scratch offer "custom-fit" clubs by making adjustments to brand-name clubs to fit a golfer's needs.

"We like to say our clubs are as good if not better than the brand names," says Steve Harms, manager of the Golf Connection, which has been in business for nearly a decade. "We use excellent components that are of comparable quality and the same basic materials. The only difference is you're not paying for the big names."

Harms says his clubs can be as much as one-half to one-third as expensive as some of the big-name club companies for a similar product. Plus most of the component companies have lifetime warranties for the head and shafts if they happen to break.

Dusty Atkinson, the manager of Tee'd Off Golf Co., says there are "definitely benefits of a custom club" citing the way he can fit a club "according to each person's individual needs."

Custom-fitting of a golf club involves a number of steps, usually beginning with the measurements of a golfer, including height and length of arms. Also body type and flexibility are taken into account.

Then a golfer's swing is analyzed, and a computer goes to work to figure out a variety of factors, such as swing path, club speed, lie, trajectory, tempo, impact and whether the clubface is open or closed. At stores like Golf Augusta and Pro Golf, a computer printout will analyze all these different aspects and come up with a recommended type of club with exact specifications for the golfer.

When making a custom club, numerous variables are taken into consideration. On the shaft, you have to figure the length, flex point, torque and weight, while on the clubhead there's the heel, toe and sole weight along with the amount of loft. Then there's the lie, which is the angle at which the shaft juts out from the clubhead as well as the correct grip size.

Then there's another factor that Harms says is very important to most golfers -- the look.

"What do you like looking at over the top of your club," he says. "Every time a golfer hits a ball, he looks at his club and if he's not comfortable with what he sees, he's not as likely to perform well."

That's a factor that has caused one major golf outlet to scale back its custom club making.

Uinta Golf manager John Smuin said his store used to do a lot of custom club making but cut back in the last couple of years because "most people want a club that looks like a manufacturer's club."

Smuin, who has made clubs himself, acknowledges that you can buy "knock-offs" for one-third of the price of a brand-name club. But he believes the brand names are still better quality.

One local maker of custom clubs, who preferred not to be quoted for the story, says most of the money for brand-name clubs goes to marketing those clubs and says major golf companies prefer not to make clubs to fit golfers, because they'll lose too much business. A golfer who doesn't improve will keep coming back to buy different clubs in a never-ending quest to improve their game.

So who is buying custom clubs these days? According to the consensus of local custom-club builders, it's simply "people looking to improve their games."

That's one reason major brands are starting to offer custom-fitted clubs. They've watched too many large companies go out of business in recent years, while upstart custom-club companies have stolen their business.

Professionals and top amatuers still usually buy the clubs with the big names, which these days are the likes of Titleist, Taylor-Made, Callaway or Ping. However, nearly all of the top golfers will get those clubs fitted to their game by tweaking their clubs with changes in the lofts, lies, weight, length and grips.

And that's what stores like Uinta and Pro Golf are doing more and more of, adjusting brand-name clubs to fit the individual golfer.

"Any club in the store can be a custom-fit club," says Smuin.