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Coping with Change in the Golf Industry

If my blog this week is short, it is because I was one of the record numbers of people watching my beloved Buckeyes on New Year’s Day and into the wee hours the following morning.

It goes down as the largest watched event in cable TV history. Hey, I guess I’m famous – I am part of history. However there were a number of potential viewers who could not watch the “upset” because they didn’t have access to cable or satellite TV; many of which were older Americans which is truly a shame.JUGGERNAUT_DRAW_DRIVERYou see, bowls like the Rose, Sugar, Orange, etc. were mainstays on network TV until 2011 when they switched over to cable’s ESPN. This was the end of an era to free-loading football loving fans relying on rabbit ears and a rooftop antenna to cure their fix. By now you are wondering how does this relate to the golf industry? Simply things change and we adapt. What used to be readily available and taken for granted can be swiftly taken away as technology changes our way of life. Look at all the small Mom and Pop golf retailers today – they are nearly all gone. Repair shops? They are slowing dwindling away. Yet I reported last year there may be 5 million fewer golfers than there were a decade ago, but there are still 5 million more players than in 1986. So where are all of these golfers buying their goods and services?

If you are a golfer potentially looking for new equipment, where do you go? I bet if you are 40 or older, your first stop would not be the same as it was 10 years ago. Golfers seek the internet for product information, pricing, reviews and yes buying. If you are a custom golf and/or repair shop, your business model must change as you will need to look at different avenues to get your message across and reach potential new clients. The good news is fewer outlets, especially in rural or less populated area means there is opportunity. There will be people in the town 10 miles down the road or in the next county who do not know you exist. Get the message across of what you do and that you are the go-to place for new equipment, repair and retro-fitting of existing equipment.

The reality is there is no way to fit accurately on-line. Players serious about getting better know they have to seek someone or someplace where they can hit balls, watch ball flight and get real information on what type of components or custom specifications can make them a better golfer. New golfers looking for affordable and yet better quality clubs than box sets need to turn to someone who can give them basic fitting advise so they don’t quit the game before they every get started. This should be your New Year’s resolution for clubmaking shops and golfers alike. For clubmaker’s, they need to diversify.   For regular golfers, there is a different and viable avenue to purchase equipment or services that is not your normal retail environment. If football fanatics can change their viewing habits, golfers can surely change their buying habits too.

Start the New Year Right by Recycling

Recycled bubble bags 001I am a huge supporter of recycling and reducing my carbon footprint on this planet. One item that is not accepted at most recycling centers is bubble wrap, like what your golf club heads are shipped to you in for protection. Instead of tossing the bubble bags into the trash to lay waste in a landfill for hundreds upon hundreds of years, try reusing or re-purposing them. Like most families, the holiday decorations will come down in the following week. Some of the items may be heirlooms or possibly hand-made and need to be protected. There is no better use for those bubble bags than around the yule time to pack those items safely for the next year.

Our corporate offices will be closed January 1, 2 and re-open January 5.

Twas the Night Before a Hireko Christmas (2014 Edition)

Download Hireko Golf CatalogTwas the night before Christmas, when all through the workshop
Not a single tool would sit idle, most passed down from his late Pop.
The head covers were placed in a box with care,
In hopes that Uncle Nicholas’s new golf clubs would soon be there.

While his wife and children were nestled in their beds,
Robert began unpacking Uncle Nick’s heads.
With a beverage by his side and his faithful dog’s head on his lap,
He took a swig and carefully removed each head’s bubble wrap.

When all of the sudden there arose such a clatter,
Larry checked his smart phone to see what was the matter.
A weather alert calling for snow but starting with sleet,
By the end of the weekend the wet stuff could be measured in feet.

The two florescent light bulbs in the shop were aglow,
Gave the luster to his clubmaking project below.
When, what to his wondering eyes should appear,
But a Juggernaut driver, eight shinny high COR irons and more Hireko golf gear.

With only hours left before midnight, he had to be quick,
He had to remember all those clubmaking tricks.
More rapid than bogeys at his home course, out they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Weigh! now, Sort! now, Measure and Snip!
On, Sanding! On, Epoxy! on, on Ferrule and then Grip!
To the top of the workbench! no detail was too small!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away and install!”

As his clubmaking skills increased with each try,
The clubs meet without an obstacle, and set aside to dry.
So all those clubmaking videos he watched on YouTube gave him a clue,
With a rack full of golf clubs to prove, and his Uncle Nick’s too.

And then, in a twinkling, he took a look at the clock
In no time at all the fast setting epoxy was hard as a rock.
He drew each head to the belt sander as evident by the sound,
Down came the ferrules until they were all perfectly round.

He was dressed in his shop apron, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were kept clean from the graphite and soot.
A bundle of high traction grips he pulled from a rack,
That he just received from his Fed Ex driver named Mack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! learned gripping from his cousin Gary!
This part of the project would be the least scary!
Clamped, aligned and tape peeled from the liner, solvent ready to flow.

By the time he finished, those grips looked like they were installed by a pro.

The stub of a grip he held tight in his fists,
He waggled each club with a flick of the wrists.
He tried the putter, even though it stuck into his round belly,
Then he shook and he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He placed labels on the shafts he had safe on a shelf,
And he laughed and wished he made the clubs for himself!
With wink of his eye and a twist of the head,
Soon he knew he had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but continued to finish his work,
And filled the box with shiny new clubs, then turned with a smirk.
And after wrapping the box by the artificial tree,
And giving a nod, placed the package next to the 50” 4K Ultra HD TV!

He sprang to his feet, to head off to slumber,
Proud of himself there was nothing he forgot to remember.
But he quietly exclaimed, ‘fore he turned off the light
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Set Up Realistic Goals for Scoring One Hole at a Time

At the end of the day, you may look at your aggregate score, but that’s what keeps you going are the personal victories after each hole.

Download Hireko Golf CatalogKeeping score is part of the game of golf and a measure of how well one did on that particular day for personal reasons or to decide how well you fared against an opponent(s). One of the biggest mistakes the vast majority of golfers make is the notion that they will shoot par at the onset of the round rather than looking at what their average score has been in the recent past. Sure, it is great to set goals, but those goals should be realistic.

For example, the player may average 10, 17 or even 28 over par. Believe me none of these players are likely to shoot par (or better) even on their best day. Rather, use your average score as “par” as a practical goal prior to firing a shot off the first tee. Let’s say the 17 over shooter happens to card 20 over for the round. Based on his or her recent score, that is only 3 strokes worse than normal and doesn’t sound dire enough to give up the game.

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But let’s say the same 17 over shooter shot 15 over for the day. When you think about it that is the equivalent of 2 under their “par”. That is far more rewarding than saying, “Shucks, I played well today and was still 15 over par”. This is where the law of averages prevails and the reason why you will want play again.

Golf is so psychological that in order to succeed one has to see the positives instead of dwelling on the negatives. Let’s face it golf is hard, at least for the 99% who play this game. Take the pressure off by following this logic. If you look at your scorecard, there is information aside from the hole number and its length; one of which is handicap. The handicap is a listing of the difficulty of each hole relative to one another on the golf course. If Hole #3 lists the handicap at 14, that means that of the 18 holes on the course 13 are easier and 4 are harder. It is also used when figuring out handicaps but also which hole the player gets a stroke(s) adjusted from their score. Since only 4 out of 5 players don’t maintain a handicap, we will use the latter for our example.

Golf Scorecard

Our 17 over shooter may feel like they fail if they don’t shoot par on a particular hole. But for any hole with a handicap that matches (17) or lower, they are expected to shoot one stroke more than par. That is any par 3 and they realistic goal is 4, on a par 4 it become a 5 and lastly for a par 5 a 6 is a solid score.

For the player shooting 28 over par on average, here is good news for you. Your goal is one additional stoke on all holes and two strokes on any hole with a handicap 10 or less. On our sample scorecard, take a look at Hole #5. This par 4 has an 8 handicap reading meaning that your “par” is really a 6. If you drive the ball into the right rough, play a safety shot which lands short of the green, you pitch the ball onto the green and two-putt, guess what? You made a personal birdie versus a bogie (according to the scorecard).

At the end of the day, you may look at your aggregate score, but that’s what keeps you going are the personal victories after each hole. Don’t start the day with unrealistic goals that may haunt you for the rest of the round. Just like life, every once in a while we have a bad day. But over the course of the week, month and year, things have a way of evening themselves out. If you follow this approach, you are likely to get better than regress. Maybe after 2 or 3 more rounds, that 17 over shooter is now down to a 16 over and has the yearning to get better and play more.

How To Increase Business To Your Golf Clubmaking Shop

How To Be Known as the “Go To” Clubmaker and Clubfitter Destination in Your Area (and Beyond)

Hireko Golf Catalog RequestToo many times I have heard from end consumers looking for a product or service (such as golf re-gripping, golf re-shafting, fitting, etc.) and have nowhere to turn.  Sure there are sparse areas of the country where golfers may not get near the option of services that a golfing mecca may have to offer, but they don’t where to look in their geographic area.  What they are looking for is the place to go for answers to help their game or repair a club and this is where you can help.

Clubmaking ShopLook at your business from a different perspective
Don’t take it for granted, golfers who are new to the game are not going to be familiar with all the places they can seek assistance. Often times they will think of the big box retailer as their first and maybe only choice.  While that may be an option for basic services, they have no idea they can get more personalized service elsewhere. For example, their local golf course might seem like a no-brainer.  However, many of them no longer offer services and farm it out to a local independent clubmaker.  To be brutally honest, most end consumers I speak to have entirely no idea there is a network of these independent golf clubmaking shops who may be in their own backyard or where to look to find them once I explain it to them.

Marking Clublength on RuleRaise your voice to a larger audience
I am certain there are hundreds if not thousands of our customers who may be looking for more business in their locale.  No, I don’t want to establish a clubmaker’s dot com to match potential customers to shops, rather look at how you advertise or get the word of mouth going that you are the place to go in your area for quality work at a fair price and timely turnaround.  If you are in a rural area with a limited population, how do you go about expanding to the next town (or towns) who don’t have experts to do the type of work you do?

Don’t just chase the better golfer / customer
Don’t forget the golfers that need the most help are the one beginning in this great game. We need to get them into equipment they will have a fighting chance to keep playing the game before they decide to call it quits because the game is frankly difficult.  Sure, there is a pyramid of influence if your shop can do the work for the best golfers in the area, but remember those types of golfer are limited.  The pyramid of influence also works from the ground up.  If you can help a beginning golfer get the “bug”, they are in turn going to tell other fellow beginners or players that are in a similar situation. That will grow your business and help to spread the word of what your shop is all about for years to come.

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Hireko’s Technical Director Inducted Into the ICG Hall of Fame

International Clubmakers GuildHireko’s own technical director was recently inducted into the International Clubmakers Guild (ICG) Hall of Fame for contributions in equipment & tool design and instruction.

Jeff Summitt Picture Hireko Tech DirectorJeff states, “I was quite honored to have been recognized for his nearly 30 years of service and dedication in the golf club equipment industry, especially with such a well-deserved class of individuals.”

The ICG Hall of Fame has been established to recognize ICG members and sponsors who have made significant contribution to the golf industry in one or more of the following categories: golf clubmaking, golf club fitting, golf equipment & tool design, instruction (repair, teaching, assembly, fitting, etc.), and/or provided noteworthy service for the betterment of the ICG.

Below in alphabetical order are the inductees for the Class of 2014:

1. Charlie Blume
2. Rick Canter
3. Bob Dodds
4. Tim Hewitt
5. Dave Hohnke
6. Don Johnson
7. Ed Mitchell
8. “Doc” Niimi
9. Jeff Summitt
10. Tom Wishon

Hireko Golf Catalog RequestJoin a Clubmaking Organization
Are you a clubmaker looking to advance your knowledge, skills and network with fellow clubmakers?  If so, there is an organization for you called the International Clubmakers Guild (ICG).  This non-profit organization was founded to serve a wide array of individuals from golf clubmakers, golf club fitters and club repairmen to PGA professionals, swing instructors, component suppliers, equipment designers, engineers and even golf scientists.

What is the International Clubmakers Guild?
The ICG is an independent; member owned and operated organization, where the membership determines the benefits and programs of the organization.  The organization is open to professionals and hobbyists alike, which is a great way to foster growth.  So if you want to learn more about the crafts of clubmaking, club fitting and repair this would be a great place to join.

Hireko is proud sponsor of the International Clubmakers Guild.  For addition information on the International Clubmakers Guild, please go to their website at

PURE Grips Now At Hireko Golf