Giving Thanks and Sharing a Dream
I know. . . it’s common to say “THANKS” this time of the year because that’s what this time of the year is all about. Not that my thanks are any different or more important than anyone else’s, but since I have a blog, that does give me a chance to do the right thing and offer my sincere thanks. . . .
. . . first to the golfers who opened their minds to a better way and doing the research that put you in contact with a custom clubmaker. Thanks to the clubmakers who support us, who care what we’re trying to do in this great craft and who care to keep learning to be the best clubfitter you can be. Thanks also to whatever chain of events that put me on the path to being able to pursue a career in golf equipment R&D. I’m certain I would be bored to death by now had I gotten into dental school way back when – might have been a little more well off, but hey, money isn’t everything.
Doing something you really like and have a passion for is. And in that sense, I am very thankful to have discovered golf clubs as my passion. While there are times I get really frustrated trying to convince more and more golfers that custom fitting beats standard brand names sold off the rack, I seriously would not change a thing in my career. The lack of respect I encountered working in the component clubmaking side of the business was far outweighed by the depth and breadth of experience I gained because I have only worked in the component side. Being understaffed in my positions and having to design tons and tons of different models of heads, shafts, grips and tools allowed me to learn far more than I ever could had I accepted one of those offers to work for a big OEM.
I’m also thankful that I still have a very strong dream that I hope someday will come true.
Some of you may know that I also have a very strong passion for the history of this great game. In terms of the history of golf clubs, from the dawn of the game in the late 1400s to the late 1800s, if you played the game and you wanted to buy golf clubs, you had to go see an independent clubmaker. There were no golf stores. There were no mass produced sets of golf clubs sitting in golf stores to be bought off the rack by golfers. There were only clubmakers, who made golf clubs one at a time, for one golfer at a time.
While the concepts of clubfitting were quite rudimentary back then, the clubmakers still did try to tailor elements such as the length, weight, grip size, set makeup and shaft flex to the individual needs of each golfer.
All this began to change in the late 1800s to early 1900s when the game increased greatly in participation. With more golfers playing more golf courses that were run by club pros, the pros began to ask the clubmakers to provide them with sets of golf clubs that the pros could stock in their shops and sell to the golfers who came to the courses to play. And thus was born the business model that still exists today for golf companies to mass produce sets of clubs to a series of standard specifications so the sets could be sold off the rack to golfers.
In all areas through their history, it is not uncommon for events to evolve in a circular manner. You name it and quite likely its trends have been there, changed and come back in a circular manner of evolution.
My dream is that I will live to see the sales of golf clubs also come full circle and revert to being the domain of the independent custom clubmakers. One club at a time, for one golfer at a time. Wouldn’t that be nice to see?
Until next time,