Loft and lie, shaft flex and swing weight -- there's more to a good golf
club than meets the eye.
A custom clubmaker measures an individual's swing characteristics and creates
shaft specifications to meet individual needs. Then they assemble the grip,
shaft and head. Some experts say that the most important duty of a clubmaker
is the clubfitting.
"There are thousands of clubmakers working today, from professionals to
what we call the stick and glue guys," says Diane Ogle of the Professional
Clubmakers' Society (PCS). "The difference is in what one can do to fine-tune
a golf club.
"When I went in to buy a set of clubs, I wanted every one to be frequency
matched so that every one feels the same. It's like tuning a piano. This organization
raises the bar to separate the professionals from the stick and glue guys."
Most custom clubmakers and fitters work as independent businesspeople with
home-based operations or retail shops. They can work full time or part time.
The usual business week is five or six days, running from Tuesday to Saturday
"Sometimes it feels like 24 hours a day," says certified clubmaker Michael
Brown. "It can be dirty in terms of the graphite particles. Wear protective
clothing and have a good exhaust system."
Garry Beaton owns a custom club shop. To customize and fit clubs properly,
says Beaton, requires "constant updating in golf equipment and technology
and many 12- to 14-hour days."
Clubmakers can be moderately successful by advertising locally or through
word-of-mouth referrals. But online fitting and ordering is where the action
Mark Weidel is a PCS board member. He has one warning about the trend:
"Any fitting is better than no fitting, but a live fitting is much preferable.
The different flexes and lengths are infinite and other methods are limited."