Falling behind on the trends in golf equipment? That’s the thought that brought Charlie to this topic when he rang up Nick Sherburne, founder of Club Champion, to talk about the evolution of golf equipment. They also talk about fittings, changes to grip, and what you need to look for in a club fitter.
Charlie Rymer (00:00):
All right, back on Balls in the Air with your favorite host from the world of podcasting, well I hope so anyway, Charlie Rymer. Got a great show today. Nick Sherburne, who is a founder of Club Champion, now with 86 retail locations across the country that got started back in 2010. Nick, welcome to the show. You’re sitting here at 86 stores now, Club Champion. When you got going with this, and I know you were in the business before 2010, but did you ever think you’d get to where you guys are now with the 86 stores?
Nick Sherburne (00:41):
No. Well, no. It’s awesome that it happened, but the reality of it is I started this business when I was 16 years old. That was ’98, so fast-forward to 2010, we had two locations. I was a young fellow and I met some people. We were kind of talking about before we got on this podcast you meet so many great people through golf, and I met some people that opened my eyes to maybe something that we could do greater and really take what I’ve done here and expand it across the globe. It kind of at the time was like, “Well, maybe we could do 20-25 of these.” Well, 11 years later we’re at 86, so I guess we’re going to just keep going, which is great. More people we can touch, the better.
Charlie Rymer (01:27):
Well, I’ve been in quite a few of your locations and it really is an amazing experience. I’m spoiled, always have been, in the world of equipment, having had access as a PGA TOUR player to the tour vans and that sort of stuff. When I go in one of your stores it’s, to me, just exactly like the experience I get when I would walk in a PGA TOUR van back when I was playing this game for a living. And bringing that experience to a lot of people is something I thought would never happen.
Charlie Rymer (01:57):
But it’s amazing to me how fast the technology has changed. When I was a kid, my teaching professional, master PGA professional Dean Alexander’s had a long career in this business, a lot of different places, and we’re still close to this day. But I started with Dean when I was about 13 years old and he loved doing club repair. Nick, you’re not even going to be familiar with this because I played persimmon up until 1996, but we would go in and refinish my driver in the club repair shop, in the back of the golf shop in Tega Cay, South Carolina, and strip it down and sand it and repair it. I can remember taking clay and making a little dam and filling in with epoxy the places where the persimmon had been chipped away. And I was so picky with that driver. I wanted to keep it in great shape for as long as I could. I wouldn’t hit normal range balls. I’d always have two or three balls that I had in my bag because I didn’t want this sand on a range ball to mess up the persimmon. And I think from where we were then to where we are now with golf club repair, golf club construction, with the fitting, everything that goes into it, it’s amazing how far we’ve come as an industry in such a short period of time.
Nick Sherburne (03:17):
Just so you know, one of the first things I learned in club repair was refinishing wooden woods. In fact, we were so slow the first couple of years back in the late 90s, what we were doing, we would take old clubs of peoples’ and refinish them just like it. Till this day, we still have folks bringing in clubs that they want rewhipped. Remember the whipping on there?
Charlie Rymer (03:40):
Oh, yeah. I could never do that. I was the worst at whipping.
Nick Sherburne (03:43):
And with 400 employees now, I am still the only employee that knows how to do that. So when a customer comes in, they’re like, “This was my grandfather’s club,” or “This is my dad’s club and I want to put it in my office. Can you rewhip it?” they all come back to me and then I go into the build shop and do it. People just kind of look at me, and they’re like, “You still do that?” and I’m like, “Yeah, I guess I can still do that.”
Charlie Rymer (04:02):
Well, it’s just so cool seeing those old clubs. I was with Arnold Palmer Golf for a while, a company that was first started as First Flight and then it became Arnold Palmer Golf, and it was in Chattanooga. They had this process that’s called densitized, I remember, and it was somehow they would put clubs in vacuum chambers and some kind of oil would get, in theory, get sucked into the persimmon. But there was a persimmon blight in the mid-80s, and they cornered all of the persimmon blocks, and they always had the best persimmon.
Charlie Rymer (04:40):
The guy who would do a lot of Mr. Palmer’s clubs would do a couple of drivers for me. I would go down, the old factory was down, right off the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, and it was just so cool. Smelled like a furniture factory in there with the veneers and the varnishes and all of that. But it would be beautiful persimmon, and I always liked to have a color that would… Not cherry and not natural, but somewhere in the middle. Getting the color just right was always cool. But he always took his clubs and he’d go straight up black with them. They would paint over the insert, or not paint over, color over the top of it. In fact, I’ve got a driver at home now that’s still in pretty good shape. But it’s black, and it was the same way they made it for Mr. Palmer, black on top. And you couldn’t see the insert. It wouldn’t pop at all. It was the coolest club, and that’s the club I played on tour till ’96. But there’s something about that old stuff. I really miss that.
Nick Sherburne (05:35):
Well, it’s just a whole different… But it is kind of cool, and what we’re going to talk about today is it wasn’t that long ago that that’s what you played golf with. Now it’s like rocket science to it a little bit. I’ll make it a lot easier, and I think people make it tougher than it needs to be, but it’s pretty amazing to see how far this industry’s gone in a short period of time.
Charlie Rymer (05:56):
Well, one thing I know for sure, every now and then I’ll go back and I’ll hit some of that old stuff just for kicks, and if you go back and hit an old persimmon driver, and I’ve got a bag of them at home, you better go back and hit the old Balata, real Balata golf ball, like a 384 Titleist golf ball. They sort of match up. If you try to hit a modern, even a tour ball that we think of as being sort of softer now with a persimmon, you find out really quickly that it’s not very soft. The-
Nick Sherburne (06:23):
Not very soft, might explode the club, there’s a lot of things. Yeah, you’re better off trying to get an old wound ball for that.
Charlie Rymer (06:31):
Yeah. Yeah. But it’s fun every now and then to go back and hit all that stuff and it’s fun to reminisce about all that. But the reason I asked you to be on the show, and thank you for coming on, is this weekend I was playing a member-guest… And we have the format where there’s five nine-hole matches and it’s a lot of fun because you get to meet a lot more people. But one of the opponents that my buddy and I had in our match, he asked me, he said, “Charlie, how do I keep up with what’s going on in golf?” He goes, “I want to have new gear, but I don’t even really know how to dig into figuring out, is there stuff that’s newer than what I’ve got, what’s coming down the pipeline?” And I thought, “That’s a great idea for a show to try to help people sort through how to stay up to date, find out if there is anything out there that can help them.” And so that’s why we called to ask you to come on the show. How would you go about answering that question?
Nick Sherburne (07:28):
Well, I know you didn’t bring me on for a commercial, but to me, that’s the whole premise of why you come to a Club Champion. You kind of even said it perfect right at the beginning. I’ll take you back to my history of when I was younger in high school and starting this business, I also worked at the range at Cog Hill, Western Open, sure you’ve played in it. I would watch folks like you go to these trailers and tweak their golf equipment and do all this little stuff, and I was amazed by it. I was like, “Well, wait, if the best players in the world are doing this, why isn’t the average person getting this?”
Nick Sherburne (08:02):
And so that’s kind of how Club Champion came along is I found out that there’s just so much out there, and it’s not super digestible unless you’re very into it. In fact, I even found, and you can probably talk to this more, a lot of tour players didn’t even necessarily know. They just had these technicians that would go… They would say, “Hey, I’m having trouble hitting this shot or having trouble hitting that shot, or I feel like I lost some distance,” and then these technicians would take over and tweak their equipment to get the shot that that player was looking for.
Nick Sherburne (08:30):
And so Club Champion’s kind of always escalated since that. It’s like, can there be a place that takes the unbiasedness of just selling you something out of it and let science and whatever, launch monitors that came along, all this, prove out what you should play, and not let marketing or your buddy who might be a better or worse golfer tell you a magazine article that could be paid for or not explain to you what you maybe should buy and not buy? So long story short is the whole premise of Club Champion is you come in and we look at it. We go, “Here’s your launch. Here’s your spin. Here’s your club head speed. Here’s the variables that can be changed. Here’s the things that are fixed, the constants.” We can help you marriage that because, again, I just don’t think you can just go out there and research a bunch of stuff. I think you’ll get confused is my personal opinion.
Charlie Rymer (09:24):
Yeah, it is definitely confusing. Here’s one of the things I love about Club Champion. We discovered… And this is no BS, I’ll just cut right to the chase, but we discovered… I guess it’s been two and a half or three years ago when Nike decided that they were going to get out of the golf club business, and they had some players that might’ve had a year, two years left on a contract. Those players were now free to play whatever equipment they wanted to play. And it was really interesting to me, you got a player that’s getting paid to play a club that doesn’t exist anymore, go play whatever you want. Some of them would immediately go to a manufacturer and get a full lineup out of one manufacturer, but most of them said, “I’m going to cherry pick what’s out there. I’m going to find the best driver. I’m going to find the best wedges, the best putter, the best irons, the best fairway metals, best utility.” And that’s, to me, when we sort of saw who has the best club.
Charlie Rymer (10:26):
Combinations I saw were like a TaylorMade driver, or you would see a lot of Mizuno irons, you’d see a lot of Scotty Cameron putters, you’d see a lot of Bob Vokey wedges. You’d see sort of this mixed bag. What you guys do at Club Champion is that. You’re not in bed with one particular manufacturer, whether it’s a club hedge or the shafts or anything else, and that’s pretty amazing opportunity for the average consumer to come in and be able to truly cherry pick and get the best of the best.
Nick Sherburne (10:54):
So I think what a lot of golfers don’t realize still to this day and something we preach is there’s limitations on this equipment that the USGA or the R&A have put on these manufacturers. Clubs can only do certain things, like they can only have a certain amount of speed off the face. They have limitations. So then you have your swing and you have limitations, right? We all have these different swings-
Charlie Rymer (11:23):
No. No. No. You’re telling me that we have limitations as golfers? I’m not buying it, Nick. I’m not buying it.
Nick Sherburne (11:29):
Well, we do, and a lot of people don’t think about it. It’s like we all have different swing paths. We all have different attack angles. There’s a lot of variables in those. So until you get in and you see what your body does or how your body reacts to certain equipment, you’re never going to know. But what I was starting with and I’m going to circle back around now is… So if we have you and your club head speed and your swing, and we know that the club can only produce another thing, which is this certain ball speed, we now know where you are and how good you can be.
Nick Sherburne (12:06):
So it’s all just numbers. We can educate you about the numbers of going, “Okay, based on how fast you’re swinging, are you getting the ball speed you should?” Once we get you that ball speed or try to get you as close as technology can get you to the optimal ball speed based on what your club head speed is, can we get it to launch the way we need to launch? Not everybody needs to launch it high. Not everybody needs to launch it low. So there’s these imprints we put you in, but once we get in there, it is what it is. We can show you the equation and go, “This is the best it can be and there’s no getting better.” And I don’t think a lot of golfers get that and that’s what we try to explain to them is technology is great and you can read about it and you can go on forums and you can geek out about it, which believe me, I do those things. But I also know how to weed out what’s good and what’s not.
Nick Sherburne (12:52):
I always tell people still to this day that fitters… We train all our fitters here and I’m part of that process. I talk to customers, I try to talk to customers like I’m talking to my dad. My dad’s a nine-hole golfer, plays nine holes three times a month. Loves golf, but just a nine-hole golfer. Maybe watches a little TV, reads a magazine at the doctor’s office. Other than that, he’s not going to understand all this stuff, which is why I’m on this podcast today. So us being able to get in there and educate you on these things that are, “This is you. This is how good a golf club can be for you. Let’s see how close we can get you there,” and you’re never going to do that unless you go into someplace that does really good fittings and has a lot of options.
Charlie Rymer (13:35):
So my opponent from the member-guest this past weekend that’s curious about it, I would suggest to him get in to Club Champion, or find… Being a PGA professional myself, find a PGA professional in your area that does a lot of fittings, right? Because it seems like the more you do, the better you’re going to get at it. But it’s really something that’s, I’m not going to say impossible, but extremely difficult to take up on your own, thinking, “Well, I’ll just go in and try this off the rack and this off the rack.” That’s really just hit or miss, isn’t it?
Nick Sherburne (14:10):
It’s 100% hit or miss. And I totally agree. You don’t have to go to a Club Champion, and not everybody can go to a Club Champion, but you have to go to somebody who’s done a lot of fits because there’s no university for club fitting. There’s certain things we know, but at the end of the day, doing lots and lots of fits is how you get really good because you get to see all these different swings and you get to see all these different types of ways of hitting a golf ball, and you can’t translate that through a textbook.
Nick Sherburne (14:44):
Anyway, yeah, you got to go do that. And then I always say you got to go somewhere that has a lot of different stuff to test, because you go read about this equipment, this one says, “Oh, this will launch higher. This one will launch lower. This one will spin more. This one will spin less,” yes, that’s what they set out to produce and that’s what they want that product to do, but as you know, as a PGA professional, with all the different attack angles and club paths, that’s not going to always happen for every golf course. That’s why you have to have those different things to test to see if it truly works for you.
Charlie Rymer (15:15):
Last time I was in a Club Champion… You guys have a new store here in the Myrtle Beach area I went in for a fitting. It was a lot of fun. And I’m sure I’ll butcher this, but the combination of different clubs and heads and shafts and grips was something like 86,000 that they had right there in the store that I could try theoretically that day. I might be a little off on my number, but I don’t think I’m too far off, am I?
Nick Sherburne (15:43):
No, you’re actually high. We state 55,000, but we are north of that. But that’s what we state. It’s a lot, and people go, “Well, that’s overwhelming.” The big thing about club fitting in general, I think people get overwhelmed. They’re like, “There’s too much. I don’t understand it. It’s expensive. I’m not good enough player,” all these things. And no, no, no, no. I tell people, I go, “We have all those options so that we have something for everybody.” Because we are going to have to deal with a lot of different swing types, a lot of different speeds, a lot of different everything, so you have to have all these products in order to dial in certain golfers. And also, you want to have price points because not every golfer is going to want to spend the same thing. I always tell people, I go, “The demo option is awesome, but don’t get scared by it because that’s why you have a really good fitter that’s going to take you through a journey of hitting just a select amount of those based on what that fitter needs to solve in your game.”
Charlie Rymer (16:38):
So let’s talk about the investment, without getting into specifics of costs. Is it possible to come into Club Champion and say, “Hey, listen, I love this game. I’ve played it a long time. I’ve read about what you guys do and I believe in it. I want to go through this process, but I can’t go in and get 14 clubs right now”? Can you get a fitter that’ll look at your bag and say, “All right, this driver, it’s got whipping on it. Let’s just maybe rotate through maybe over a two-year or three-year period. We’ll end up getting you gear that’s a lot better for you, but you’re not taking the hit all at once”? Is that something that you guys do?
Nick Sherburne (17:22):
100%. And I’ve said this for the 20 years that I’ve been club fitting and had this business is you don’t have to come in committing to buy anything. What you have to commit to is the fit. At Club Champion, we charge a fitting fee because you’re going to get a full-time fitter that’s been doing this, that’s highly trained. We have the best training program in the business. Plus, you’re going to have the best launch monitors; we use TrackMan and the SAM PuttLab. Plus, you’re going to have the demo selection we talked about. By the way, we don’t sell brands. We sell performance. It’s about what works.
Nick Sherburne (17:55):
Anyway, long story short is I tell people you just have to commit to the fit. You’re going to come in, you’re going to have this great, awesome experience where you’re going to learn more than you ever thought you were going to learn. We’re going to feed it to you in a digestible way. And at the end, you’re going to have a blueprint. You’re going to have this build spec that shows, “Okay, driver’s perfect. You can’t do any better. Leave that one alone. Three wood? Let’s maybe put a new shaft in there. Irons? We got to get all new irons,” whatever it is, right? It could be tweaking something. It could be getting all new something. It could be leaving something alone, but you’ll have this blueprint.
Nick Sherburne (18:28):
You’ll also see the price of all that, and you can decide to do some of it, all of it, or none of it. That’s the beauty. Just pay for the fit. But at least you’ll know what you’re giving up, right? So that’s where I tell people it’s hard to put a value to something until you know what you’re going to get out of it. So our whole goal at the end of the fit is to show you very simply, “Here’s how your clubs performed today, and here’s what they could perform like whether we leave it the same, tweak it, or get all new.” And now you can put a value to that easier and decide what to do.
Charlie Rymer (19:00):
So two days ago I was playing golf here at Murrells Inlet, South Carolina at the beautiful Caledonia, and they have these really super cool fox squirrels there. You ever even seen a fox squirrel? It’s an odd looking squirrel.
Nick Sherburne (19:15):
I think I have actually wondered what it was and somebody told me. Yeah.
Charlie Rymer (19:19):
Yeah, and they’re friendly. They look more like ferrets than squirrels, and they come over and people will feed them, right? And I was messing with one right by my cart. I didn’t have any food, and he got mad and he bit me. Can you see that right there?
Nick Sherburne (19:33):
Charlie Rymer (19:35):
So I’m out there and I’m looking up on my phone, “Am I going to get rabies? Am I not going to get rabies?” and all this sort of stuff. So I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to have to get all of these shots and it’s painful,” and all this sort of stuff. And I think a lot of people if they got a medical problem or something like that, they start doing all this research online, they find out all this information. And then there happens to be, there’s a doctor out there. I went over to the doc, and I’m like, “Oh my goodness. Are you going to have to cut it off?” and he’s like, “It’s going to be just fine.” I’m thinking about every time I go to the doctor with something, I do all this research, and I go in and I think I’ve got one thing, and it’s like, I either don’t have that, I’m perfectly fine, or I’ve got something else. So a client coming in to one of your fitters, is it best for them to do like I do and get on whatever the version of WebMD is and read all this-
Nick Sherburne (20:27):
Yeah, I was going to call you the WebMDer.
Charlie Rymer (20:29):
… or just come in blind and see what you guys say?
Nick Sherburne (20:32):
Well, I got a lot of doctor friends through the years that are clients, and they call them the WebMDers, the people that come in just like that. And I’m guilty of that, by the way, too. But in my world of club fitting, I call it the GolfWRXer, the person that goes on the forums and goes down these rabbit holes which, by the way, I’m guilty, too. But-
Charlie Rymer (20:54):
Hard not to.
Nick Sherburne (20:55):
Yeah. Listen, we love golf. We want to consume golf content. That’s what we like. So I tell golfers it’s fine. Go do it. I do it. But here’s what you got… You just keep a filter, right? It’s like, you can learn all this stuff, but don’t take it all to heart, because the reality of it is you shouldn’t even listen to me if I were to tell you something like that. Because what happens is I’m going to tell you the same thing I’ve told clients for years, who text me and they go, “Hey, Nick, you know my swing. You know this. Can we just build this driver up and go?” And I’ll be like, “Well, we can, but it’s still a risk. There’s no point in it when you have these great launch monitors now, you have great fitters, and you have these demos. Why wouldn’t you come in, test it, make sure that we are getting the proper ball speed, launch, spin, shot shape we want, and then we build it?” Because it’s that accessible now, and it’s… Why wouldn’t you? To me, if you’re going to go out and buy a driver, and most drivers off the shelf now are four to 600 bucks, why wouldn’t you spend a little on a fitting fee and make sure that the investment you’re putting in that is good money spent, good money invested?
Charlie Rymer (22:03):
Exactly. Let’s talk a little bit about some of the trends. I’m 53 and I’ve lost, just through natural aging and eating too much fried food here in Myrtle Beach, I would say my club head speed has gone from 118 to probably 106, 108, something like that in the last five years. So I’ve gone to a little bit lighter, a little less stiff, and so when I ask buddies or buddies that ask me that are my same age, I always say, “Hey, you know what? I go to a little bit lighter.” I’ve always played a 125 to 130 gram shaft in my irons and now I play a 110. I’d always been at X and now it’s an S. And I’m sort of wondering, am I making a mistake by suggesting to my buddies to try a little lighter, a little less stiff? Because everybody’s got such a different swing. Is that a trend that you see working for people and the direction that we’re going with equipment, or is that just something that’s working for me and I’m telling my buddy, “Hey, try this”?
Nick Sherburne (23:13):
There’s a couple of thoughts I have on that. The first one is I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong because I think people are looking… None of us are getting younger, okay? So as you move in your golfing career, your speeds are going to change, the way you load the club, your transition at the top, whatever. There’s a lot of little moving pieces, as you know. Those things change and so you might need a different product. To your point, you might need a different weight of shaft, you might need a different flex a shaft, you might need a different torque of shaft to keep up that speed that you have. So if you’re going from 118 to 108, listen, your ball speed, everything’s changing. You’re going to have to change something, otherwise you’re just going to lose tons of distance. Or you can try to keep up with distance a little if you have the right technology to marriage it.
Nick Sherburne (23:58):
So I tell folks, it’s like, there’s no silver bullet, right? You’re right in the bucket of odds are, club head speed’s going down, we might need lighter, we might need softer. That could happen, but you want to test it, and that’s what you have people do. Because I see folks all the time… In fact, I talk with another PGA professional all the time about this, where he’s like, “I see really high-speed players that sometimes do really good with a little bit softer flex shaft. Maybe not go down in weight, but flex,” and I said, “Absolutely,” because they don’t load the shaft. Even though they have a lot of club head speed, they don’t have a lot of load. Their transition’s a little slower, some of this stuff. They don’t need to play a super stiff shaft, even though their club head speed kind of suggests they do. And so that’s why you go in and you test it and you make sure, because there’s no perfect answer until your body swings it and you see what happens.
Charlie Rymer (24:49):
Yeah. Yeah, I’ve always just thought all tour players played with X. That’s what I always played with, heavy and X. I see players like Lee Westwood, who’s actually been playing some really good golf this past year, he’s never hit an X shaft in his life. And it does have to do with load. I always thought he was crazy. Now I’m a little bit older and I can feel the difference. I’m like, “Man, I wish I had tried a little softer stuff earlier in the day.”
Nick Sherburne (25:13):
Well, you didn’t have the technology that these guys have. I think everybody back then, there was no… Launch monitors were not really a thing. You didn’t know, so everybody was like, “This is what we think we should play.” And honestly, we still fight that to a degree. Sometimes these younger, better players, they see the best players in the world playing something, they think, “Oh, that’s just what I should play,” and it’s like, “No, no, no, no.” And you’re starting to see that revolution. You talked about it. The Nike was a perfect… Where you saw these folks branch out and start doing things differently than they’d done in the past, and I think you’re going to continue to see that out there by the best players, which is great. It shows the golfing public not everybody fits in a bucket. Your swing is a snowflake and you got to have clubs that fit it.
Charlie Rymer (25:58):
Yeah. And in particular, for me, I’m almost 6’5″, slightly over 250, slightly, maybe way over that, but fitting’s always been a challenge for me because the stuff would get way too heavy. When I played an iron shaft that was three-quarters of an inch or sometimes an inch long, it would just be an incredibly heavy club. I didn’t like the weight, so I’d always play shorter than maybe what I should have. Now you can dial it in, where I can get the club as long as it wants without it being ridiculously heavy. The options are really almost unlimited, and especially if your folks are using a resource like Club Champion.
Charlie Rymer (26:40):
But I want to finish with this. Without even talking to you ahead of time about this, I’m going to assume a big part of the business at Club Champion is the driver. I would guess percentage-wise it’s pretty high because that’s where most people focus. And then folks want to get irons and then maybe get into wedges and hybrids and all that. And I think the last part, would be my assumption, is the last thing they get into is the putter. It’s, “We want to hit the ball farther. We want to hit it straighter.” I don’t care who you are. You want to hit it by your buddies. You want to go in and see a fitter, and the first thing that your buddy’s going to ask you, “Are you hitting any farther?” And that’s human nature and that’s great, but in this game, best I can tell, putting is still very, very important. I would always talk to people about… If their goal in golf is to lower their handicap and shoot better scores, you better pay more attention to the putting. Having a putter that fits your stroke is really, really important. I’d just like to get your thoughts on the golfer who might be watching this, and they’re focusing on the driver, which is great, but you guys do a lot of great work with the putters as well.
Nick Sherburne (28:02):
Well, so putter’s my favorite thing to push because it’s 40% of your game. And you’re right on. The best players in the world… And when you were playing, you knew putting was going to be one of the biggest differentiators between you and the field. For me, I call it the gateway drug at Club Champion because people get scared about club fitting. Well, putter fitting is not a super long fitting. It’s not a super expensive fitting. In fact, it’s our most economical fitting. And it’s something that can instantly change your game the next round. You can get new clubs and it’s going to change your game, but you’re going to see that over an average where you can start making putts tomorrow with the right putter. So for us, it’s like we use Science & Motion SAM PuttLab, but you come in and we analyze your stroke and then marriage a putter to it.
Nick Sherburne (28:53):
Now, you may have the proper putter, but it’s not set up with the right loft, the right lie, the right weight, the right length, the right grip, and so we tweak it. We may say, “Hey, you’re in the completely wrong putter. This putter has too much toe hang. It’s not opening and closing correctly. You’re not squaring it up. We need a different putter,” but it’s awesome… The feedback we get in every study we’ve ever done, if you’re not getting your putter fit, you’re missing a huge opportunity to score on the golf course, because it instantly can make you better your next round after a putter fitting.
Charlie Rymer (29:25):
Well, putter business, to me, is always been a tough business because not only… Let’s say you’ve got an innovative putter or some sort of product that has something to do with putting, whether it’s a shaft, a grip, whatever. You’re not competing against what’s in the marketplace right now. You’re not competing against just that, because you’re competing against all the putters that somebody has in a garage somewhere, too. Because if you go back and look at a Scottsdale Anser or a Scotty Cameron Newport, they hadn’t really changed all that much over the years. You can go back and grab the magic wand and get a couple of days out of it. And that’s why I think that putter business is something that’s pretty fickle, I think, for the manufacturer.
Nick Sherburne (30:12):
Well, and here’s some fun things that I like to tell. And listen, we sell manufacturers. I still say it; they don’t like it, but it’s true. You can paint them all black. They don’t care about the name. That doesn’t matter. There’s face balance putters. There’s 30-degree toe hang putters. There’s 45-degree toe hang putters. There’s 60-degree toe hang putters. There’s 90-degree toe hang putters. There’s putters with little offset, putters with no offset. The name doesn’t change. That’s not going to be what makes you more putts. What makes you more putts is marrying some of those characteristics I just talked about, getting the proper loft and line. The name doesn’t matter.
Nick Sherburne (30:50):
I also love when people are like, “Well, this one feels great.” I’m going to tell you right now, cool stat. Go into a golf shop, put earphones in and put blinders on and hit putts. You wouldn’t know one putter from the next, because sound is what creates feel. So when you see all these different inserts and mills and all that, really a lot of what they’re trying to do is create a different sound, which creates a different feel. And guess what? That could help you, but that’s going to be the smallest part of making sure a putt goes in the hole. All those other characteristics, toe hang, offset, loft, fly, weight, those are the things that are going to make a difference when you actually make a putt. So I always tell folks, you can go research, you can have fun doing all that, make it your own putter, but at the end of the day, if you don’t have those things right, nothing else matters.
Charlie Rymer (31:38):
No. That putter that feels great today, I’ve had this happen quite a few times, two days later it’s at the bottom of the pond out in front of the number nine.
Nick Sherburne (31:46):
Charlie Rymer (31:48):
I do want to ask you one of the trends… Because this is something that I don’t understand myself, but I’m seeing it a lot out on tour. And I haven’t used it, the shaft that’s a composite on top, metal on bottom or vice versa. I know it sort of started out, Bubba Watson played that old True Temper BiMatrix shaft that was a composite of steel and graphite in two distinct segments. I’m seeing a lot of those on tour. What’s going on with that putter shaft?
Nick Sherburne (32:22):
Well, you’re seeing a lot of different putter shafts. The one you’re speaking of you see a lot in Odyssey putters. That’s your Stroke Lab. Then like Louis, you’ve seen him, he has one called Stability by BGT, which is Barney Adams’ company. And then you’re seeing Dustin Johnson and some of these guys playing, and Bryson, that’s all graphite. So what you’re seeing in this putter shaft technology is the next kind of jump in putters. And what their attempt to do is to create less torque in the putter shaft. And people will go, “Well, less torque in a putter shaft? We don’t really bend a putter shaft.” You’re 100% correct. We really don’t. Although, you can get softer putter shafts that do bend a little when you putt.
Nick Sherburne (33:05):
But the idea is with this tighter torque is a couple things. One is your putter has a small sweet spot. If you get a little off and you get a little wiggle on that head when you don’t hit the sweet spot, that’s throwing off your ball speed, it’s throwing off the direction the putt’s going to start. So when you have these putter shafts that are more stable, less torque and you get a little off, you’re going to get less deflection and you’re going to get more consistent ball speed on missed hits and you’re going to get more on line.
Nick Sherburne (33:34):
The other thing that’s interesting about those putter shafts is torque can fool the mind. When you have less torque in there, what it’s doing is it’s making the putter feel freer. You feel like the head’s just kind of going back and through and it’s kind of your natural stroke. You’re not fighting the shaft, if you will. And you probably don’t even know what that means because you probably never even realized you did, but if you were to go to a store like a Club Champion or whoever are selling these things, we do, we’ll have you hit a putt with two identical putters. One has one shaft, one has the other, and you’re like, “Holy cow. Side-by-side, I can feel that difference.” And it makes a difference.
Charlie Rymer (34:10):
Yeah, those things on top of that look really cool, too, like lightsaber-
Nick Sherburne (34:15):
That helps, too.
Charlie Rymer (34:15):
Yeah, yeah. And I lied to you; I said that was going to be my last question. One more thing popped into my mind. Back last century when I played this game for a living, there was like four different grips that you could use for all your clubs, and then there was like three different putter grips. I was always fanatical. I’d have my grips changed probably three or four times a year, and it had to be the same guy who could get them all lined up because I always liked the reminder. I don’t like round grips. To this day I don’t like round grips. Nick, are you still there? Did I lose you?
Nick Sherburne (34:51):
No, I think I’m still here.
Charlie Rymer (34:53):
Okay, good. Our video went a little sideways here, but I’ll just keep going since I believe we’re going to be audio only. But there was probably only… The selection was minuscule. I would have them changed out three, four times a year, same guy, same day of the week. You get crazy when you’re a golfer. But I would also every day, even for practice, I would have my grips cleaned. I’d either do it myself or get my caddy to do it. And I had to use a cheap, stolen hotel towel that was really ragged, not the cushy, fluffy ones, but the ones that are worn. And then it would have to hand-dry outside, not in the air conditioning, because I had to have that exact feel every time I played golf. But when I look at what’s available with grips now, the putter grips, all the different models from the manufacturers and grips, that’s almost… We could do a whole show almost on that.
Nick Sherburne (35:50):
Absolutely. There’s just so much-
Charlie Rymer (35:53):
[crosstalk 00:35:53] impact on performance.
Nick Sherburne (35:55):
Yeah. Well, that’s your connection to the golf club. And the other thing about grips people don’t think about, all these different materials and stuff weigh different things. Weight of that grip is going to dictate other things about how that golf club goes. So that’s the big part of what we have to put in the equation. Not only do you have the right size… Everybody just gets concerned with feel, and then after feel, they get concerned with size. Well, feel is up to the customer, but what I want is to make sure you have the proper size in order to get the club back to the ball square and with the most speed. So you can play with size to create speed hindrance or speed it up and to create shot shape. Larger grips to smaller grips will allow your hands to do different things. So having a club fitter that can help you do that is huge. And same with putter grips. Putter grips are now… You can go ginormous to small. Back in the day when I started, everything was a small, little putter grip. Having that putter fit… Because people are like, “Oh, I want the big grip. It’s going to take my hands out of it.” Well, guess what? Some people need their hands.
Charlie Rymer (36:58):
I’m in that camp. I can’t stand the big putter grip.
Nick Sherburne (37:01):
Right. So that’s why you go get club fit. They all are great. There’s so many good grips out there. You got so many choices and you can really make your clubs look cool, too, but you got to make sure you got that right size. Because as you spoke, you don’t know a PGA TOUR player on the planet or LPGA tour or senior PGA tour that doesn’t scrutinize over their grips, because that is their connection to the golf club.
Charlie Rymer (37:23):
Yeah, we’re fanatical about it. When my dad was in sales, his very best customer lived in the Greensboro, North Carolina area, and I love him. He’s still around. His name is Howie Moss, and Howie would… Really good player. He was a basketball player at University of Tennessee and loves the game of golf, lifetime scratch golfer, and he’s fanatic about sunscreen. He’d always come when I play in a tournament in Greensboro or anywhere that he could drive to. He’d come up and he’d always come in on the first tee, and he’s old-school, he wants to shake my hand. And I’m looking at that hand, and it’s just slathered and sunscreen. I’m like… I just couldn’t do it. I’m like, “Hey,” give him a fist bump or something.
Charlie Rymer (38:06):
I’ve had some problems with skin cancer and I used a lot of sunscreen, but I put on in the locker room and I have to wash my hands with soap and water. And then once I’ve done that and I’m going out to play, I don’t want to touch anything that’s going to put any kind of oil or sunscreen or anything like that on my hands because then I know it’s going to get on my grips. And that was always the funniest moment because I really needed to shake his hand because he was my dad’s best customer, but I just couldn’t do it. But that gives folks that are listening an idea of how fanatical professionals are with how their clubs feel.
Nick Sherburne (38:38):
One of the easiest things to do to your golf clubs is have the proper grips put on them and making sure that you have somebody, a fitter that can show you the size and what you should be doing. But it is amazing how many times people come in and I see the grips on their clubs and I’m like, “How are you even swinging these things?”
Charlie Rymer (38:55):
Nick Sherburne (38:55):
Because that is your connection. These things are slick as can be, or whatever they are, and you just don’t realize how much it impedes it until you get it done and you have somebody scrutinize over it.
Charlie Rymer (39:06):
Right. Every now and then, get a wet towel and just wipe them down, just scrub them and it takes five minutes to do the whole set. That definitely will help out. Well, Nick, this show was all about one question from someone I played golf with in a member-guest this past weekend. They want to learn more about the golf equipment, what’s new out there. I appreciate you providing the answer. The answer is find that club fitter that you can rely on and start by taking a look at what you guys do at Club Champion. Thank you so much for your time.
Nick Sherburne (39:36):
Thanks for having me.