Beware the Clubmaking Cowboys

Clubmaking cowboys are those guys who con the public into thinking that they have sufficient clubmaking skills and suitable facilities to perform club assembly, repair and adjustments. They can range from untrained hobbyists to qualified PGA professionals. After seeing so many botched clubmaking jobs in the past 15 years or so, it’s about time the unsuspecting golfing public is made aware of their existence and the possible consequences of using these guys to modify or adjust your clubs.

You've got to be kidding!

You’ve got to be kidding!

Above is an example of a botched job. The customer was complaining that the putter was making a peculiar metallic noise when he hit a putt. Not surprising when we discovered the cause of the problem. The extension was a 2 ft piece of steel shaft which had been jammed into the putter shaft with no epoxy to secure it. The grip was then installed on top of this but now the extension had come loose and was vibrating when the ball was struck. Believe it or not the customer informed us this job was performed at the USPGA Centre for Golf Learning and Performance in Florida where pros from all over America go to be trained. Just goes to show that a cowboy is a cowboy wherever he lurks, even in the most unsuspecting places.

We’ve seen examples of all of these and more:

Grips
1. Grips not fully pushed home onto the shaft
2. Grips misaligned
3. Grips installed without any size consideration
4. Ribbed grips installed with logo to the back and rib to the front

Shafts
1. Incorrect tip trimming
2. Tip over-prepped with the possibility of breakage under normal use

Clubheads
1. Scorch marks from overheating
2. Scratches from rough handling
3. Stress marks from substandard loft and lie equipment
4. Hardened epoxy on exterior surfaces

Club assembly
1. Poor quality epoxy glue, resulting in the head coming loose
2. Excess glue up the inside of the shaft, increasing the risk of shaft breakage
3. Incorrect loft, lie and length for the player
4. No consideration given to swingweight or MOI matching
5. Poorly finished ferrules, often of the wrong size

No professionally trained cubmaker would allow these things to happen.

How do you learn clubmaking skills?
These can be acquired by attending approved training courses run by major component suppliers such as Golfsmith or Diamond Golf International. PGA professionals do get some practical clubmaking in their training programme at the Belfry but this is limited at best and it is only those PGA pros who build on this knowledge, through continuous professional development and practice, who become fully proficient at the various clubmaking tasks. Although theoretical courses are of value, there really is no substitute for the experience gained by performing the work under the supervision of an experienced clubmaker.

Tools of the Trade
Having the knowledge is one thing, having the proper equipment is another. A professional workshop offering a full range of clubmaking services requires considerable investment in tools and equipment, and since this can take some years to recoup, most PGA pros don’t bother. Some pro shops don’t even have a vice.

AGT – the professional alternative to cowboys
Golf clubs are expensive so you can’t afford to have them screwed up either from a cosmetic or performance point of view. If you are only concerned with how much the job costs then you are a prime target for the cowboys. When considering cost, keep in mind that professional clubmakers have had to spend considerable sums of money on education and equipping their facility. This has to be recouped before they can ever make a profit so you can understand why their prices might be a little higher than the cowboys. However if you are looking for value for money and confidence that the job is done properly, then avoid the cowboys like the plague. Be sure to ask if the person or business providing the service is fully insured for public and product liability because if not you may be held liable if a head comes off and injures somebody.
So next time you need your clubs adjusted, repaired or assembled we hope you will consider AGT. Check out our price list or ask us for a quote and you will be pleasantly surprised. At AGT you can be sure of professional high quality work and great customer service at a price which offers real value for money. That’s why our services have proved so popular with Scotland’s top amateur players and European Tour Pros.

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2 Responses to Beware the Clubmaking Cowboys

  1. Mr. Blair M. Phillips says:

    I repair, rebuild and restore older persimmon woods. There is no classes for what I do – anymore. My teacher was trained by Dynacraft in the early 80’s and has all the certificates,”on the wall” and 20 years of expereince. Unfortunately, there are no classes for what I do but what I was taught…is accepted practice by persimmon wood clubs and parts manufacturers,”at that time”. The article above is important for me because as a hobbiest but with a wealth of acceptable past practices knowledge using the correct supplies correctly I need to stay within myself as to what I know I can do AND can’t out of respect for the game. There are a few people out there with a tremendous amount of experience and certifications in this area who are more than willing to share that knowledge and they are very much appreciated. Guys like Dave Wood from Texas, Walter Bills from Detroit, John Hayes from Boston, Tad Moore from Augusta, Georgia, Chris Sprietzer from Bellaire, Michigan and then there are the web sites(GolfWRX & Toronto Golf Forum) with many others who are old timers but not doing the work they used to do but STILL very much around and offering their experience and knowledge. Good article.

    • AGTcomment says:

      A very relevant comment Blair. I agree that in US there are many experienced clubmakers who have built up a wealth of knowledge through studying the subject and years of hands-on practice. I know a few myself. However in UK there are not so many. Hopefully this post and your comment will encourage the golfing public to seek out this experience whenever they need some work done on their clubs.

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