Janesville66°

Janesville man ensures golfers are fit to a tee

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
June 19, 2009
— Not everyone wears size 9 shoes, Dave Langowski will say when describing his job.

That’s why he’s found a niche in fitting golf clubs.


“The fitting process is really unique because everybody is different,” he said. “There’s all different types of golfers.


“With mass-produced clubs, you can get lucky, but more often than not it’s not going to work,” he said. “You have to get fitted.”


Langowski decided to get into the business about 14 years ago after watching a woman buy an $800 set of clubs. The salesman simply said: “That sets up for you very well.”


That’s not even close to what should be done for fitting golf clubs, Langowski remembers thinking.


“I said, ‘That’s theft. If it’s that easy, I’m jumping on the bandwagon.’ ”


At the time, Langowski—his nickname is Lango—was working for UPS. He took a risk and retired early 13 years ago.


Now 63, Langowski has a high-tech golf-fitting studio in his Eastwood Avenue garage. He bought the home because the garage ceiling is high enough to accommodate a swing.


A net and artificial turf stand in for a tee.


A laser helps analyze a golfer’s swing, giving Langowski 13 measures of what the club is doing when the golfer hits the ball.


Many golfers don’t realize the importance of fitting clubs, said Langowski, who also fixes golf clubs. Or, they’ve changed the grips or heads over the years, messing up the club’s balance.


Langowski doesn’t change a golfer’s style or swing.


“Sorry to tell you, you’re stuck with it,” he said. “You fit the club to the golfer.”


Langowski’s fittings cost $100 and take about two hours. By the time the clients are done, they feel as if they’ve played 18 holes of golf, he said.


His equipment shows the golfer what’s going on: why the ball is too high or too low or going to the left, for example. A driver that’s a quarter-inch short can mess up a swing.


Women, for instance, generally have problems getting the ball into the air. But the right shaft and head can help, Langowski said.


Once the problem is diagnosed, Langowski can change parts of the club to change the balance. A grip can be too heavy or a shaft too long or short. A head can be bent to change the plane.


“It’s the art of club building,” Langowski said.


Once, a golfer said his $400 club was a piece of junk. Langowski looked at the club and knew before the guy told him that the golfer had been hitting the ball to the left. He had put on a new grip and changed the dynamics of the club.


Langowski recommends that beginners take basic lessons to learn how to hold the club and swing. Then he fits the clubs.


One guy told Langowski that he takes away excuses—the golfer couldn’t blame the equipment anymore.


“I’m here to help golfers enjoy the game more through equipment,” Langowski said.


Langowski also repairs clubs, and he does repair work for five golf facilities in the area.


“I turn it around in less time than they can send it to the manufacturer,” he said.


Langowski golfs himself and has won numerous tournaments. He has played in the senior category of the World Amateur Handicapped Championship in Myrtle Beach, and his goal is to win that tournament.


Langowski might be his best walking advertisement.


He fits himself.


Langowski: Every golf club has story to tell

Ah, the peace of a golf course.


Stately trees.


Rolling greens.


But look closer: You might find a golf club dangling from one of those trees.


The sport is notorious for sparking volcanic tempers


Dave Langowski gets the fallout after the eruptions.


Langowski fixes clubs, and clubs don’t lie about the indignities they’ve suffered. He is discreet and won’t mention names, but he’s got stories.


Like the guy who snapped six clubs over his knee in one year—four of them shafts on the same club. Langowski started saving the pieces to make a collage.


Or the guy who brought in a new Callaway driver. It had never been used but was snapped in two.


“I said, ‘Did this happen in shipping?’” Langowski asked.


No, the guy answered. He hadn’t told his fiancé he’d bought a new driver.


“When she saw the club, she said, ‘Gee, you have money for that club?’” the man said.


The man was in construction and had a front-end loader parked in the driveway. The woman took the club and smashed it against the bucket.


“Here,” she said, and gave it back to him.


When the man picked up the repaired club, Langowski asked if everything had calmed down.


“Oh, it’s really calm,” the man said. “She no longer lives with me.”


Langowski usually doesn’t need an explanation to figure out how a club was damaged.


Sometimes, it’s normal wear and tear. Langowski has been known to do emergency work, picking up a club late at night after a tournament and having it ready for a golfer at 7:15 am. on the first tee.


Other times, damage comes before its time.


A bent putter usually means the golfer banged the club against his or her shoe in frustration. Langowski straightens the shaft on his bending machine. He has one for irons, too.


Dents hiding under the grips are caused when the clubs are thrown into their bags, and none too gently.


Drivers break when they are launched through the air or slammed onto the ground.


“So many people do that, and they have no clue what they’re doing to the club,” Langowski said. “Then they wonder why the shaft is bent.”


Langowski has seen golf bags with clubs that have every head snapped off.


Any guesses?


That one’s simple, Langowski said. The golfer threw the bag into the trunk and slammed the lid. The arm on the trunk lid came down on the shafts, snapping them.


Ouch.



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