October 12, 2001
I spent a fun couple of hours on the Columbus Day holiday, hanging around with the folks at Clubhouse Golf.
Although sunny, Monday was just a bit too chilly and breezy for a round of golf. Besides, my normal golf swing disappeared while playing 9 holes on Sunday. I figured a break from my usual holiday round-of-golf routine might help.
It was way past time for a set of new grips, anyway.
Phil Voshell works part-time at Clubhouse Golf. The affable retiree is also the chairman of the golf committee at Kings Creek Country Club.
As I stared at the boxes of Winn grips, Voshell asked, “So what size do you need?” he smiled.
“Size? I have no idea.”
“Well, let’s check. Hold out your left hand. You have long fingers. Try this normal size one first. See how your fingers dig into your palm?”
“Now try one of these oversize grips. See the difference?”
“It’s really noticeable.”
“Let’s see how it feels when the grip is on a shaft.”
Voshell led me back to the shop area. The larger grip felt fine.
I then watched Voshell carefully and methodically replace each grip on my clubs, as we chatted.
After putting a club into a special rubber vise, he used a sharp knife to remove the old grip. After removing the old grip tape, Voshell then cut a length of new tape and placed it carefully on the shaft. He sprayed solvent over the tape, and sprayed more solvent inside the new grip. Plugging the holes with his fingers, Voshell rocked and rolled the grip to spread the liquid, and then poured it over the taped shaft.
Voshell then pushed the grip onto the shaft. The amount of effort this required surprised me. At times I worried that his hands would slip and he would impale himself on the club.
A quick wipe with a towel, and that was it. On to the next club, until all fourteen were completed.
While I watched and Voshell worked, we were joined by Ed Larkins, the manager/owner of Clubhouse Golf. He’s still recuperating from some recent minor surgery, so his usual sunny demeanor was tempered by the occasional wince.
I asked how business was during the holiday weekend. “A fair amount of walk-ins, but not as many sales. Nowadays people seem to be holding off on buying recreation or luxury items,” Larkins said.
We talked again a couple days later, almost six months to the day from the opening of his store last April.
Larkins said staying at the same location as his old Golf Day store helped his new store start off successfully. “The tourists were here when it was Golf Day, and many of them just assumed it was the same store. If we had moved, it would have taken more time for many of the tourists to find us.”
“The year-round golf community’s continued to be a great support for us. We had a pretty good summer, especially for just starting out. Our sales were similar to the prior summer, when a lot of people knew about Golf Day’s troubles and were searching for bargains.”
Larkins said the biggest change he’s noticed between the two shops is the way that the junior golf equipment sales have jumped. “We used to have a small wall unit of U.S. Kids golf stuff, and now we use their largest display unit. The stuff just flies out of here, with the clubs, gloves, hats, and visors sized for four different age groups. For some reason it sells much better that when we were with Golf Day.”
Larkins continues to make his own community contributions. His store is among the sponsors for the New York-style block party on Wilmington Avenue in Rehoboth held on October 11, a fundraiser for the children victimized by the September 11 jet-bombing.