By James Achenbach
Golf Week Magazine - January 20, 2007
Winterizing your golf clubs is not exactly the same thing as winterizing your automobile, although the process can be as crucial for clubs as it is for a car. In this case, winterizing means checking, measuring, bending, fixing or altering golf clubs. The objective is to optimize performance by creating consistency in a set of clubs. In the months before the golf season begins in earnest, golfers have the perfect opportunity to take this essential step and gear up for the new year.
Among golf club evangelists, Charlie Rodi is one of the most passionate. In regard to winterizing golf clubs, his commandments ring loud and clear:
1. Change your grips.
2. Investigate different grips and make a firm decision about what kind of grip you prefer – firmer or softer,round or ribbed.
3. Check the loft and lie of your clubs. This means all your clubs, not just your irons. The performance of many hybrid clubs, for example, can be improved drastically through a simple lie adjustment.
4. Measure the frequency of your shafts. Make sure the shaft stiffness is consistent through the set.
5. Look for rust inside steel shafts. Rust can lead to shaft failure. Although it has nothing to do with clubs, pick one golf ball and use it throughout the year.
Rodi’s long road in golf started when he met highly regarded golf professional Tag Merritt in San Diego. “He was a pioneer in fitting with (club manufacturer) Henry Griffitts,” Rodi said. “He inspired me. I was just a kid, but I wanted to become a club pro and a teacher.
A scratch player since he was 14, Rodi turned pro at 21 and bounced around the mini-tour circuit. Along the way, he became intrigued about golf club components and the way they are matched (or not matched, as the case may be). He was fascinated by the effect of loft and lie adjustments on ball flight, or the way that changing a shaft can change trajectory and dispersion. Rodi was hooked. He left tour golf behind to become a clubmaker, eventually rising to director of club fitting operations for the Jim McLean Golf Schools.
In 2002, Rodi established his own shop, Charlie’s Golf, located along the busy Washington Street corridor that leads to La Quinta and the PGA West mega-golf development. Early on a recent work day, a woman bustled into Rodi’s shop, concerned about a ferrule (she didn’t know the name for it, other than “that little thing”) on one of her graphite shafted clubs. It had moved a fraction of an inch down the shaft, away from the hosel.
After examining the club, Rodi told her, “It’s cosmetic. The shaft is still securely connected to the clubhead. The ferrule shouldn’t slip any more.If I were you, I wouldn’t worry about it. The club is fine.” If she wanted to leave the club, he said, he would move the ferrule back and glue it. She departed, club in hand. Honest Charlie had turned away another customer. “I’ve got to live with myself,” he said. “That was nothing.”
Later that morning, a man wanted new grips. Another man was after new shafts. Now that was something, because Rodi believes many golfers use improper shafts for their individual golf games. For virtually every person who enters his shop, Rodi is an educator and a businessman. Invariably, he explains golf club theory to these golfers and talks endlessly about shafts. In the never-ending quest for better golf clubs, he clearly has maintained his child-like enthusiasm.