The Story of Repair 1 “A Life With Golf”: 100,000 clubs
People say that the way you live your life really shows in your face.
It may be something of an exaggeration, but Susumu Wakasugi, who has been in charge of repairs at Honma Golf for 33 years, says that “the way the golfer has played the game shows in the face of the club.” The way the golfer grips, the way they hit the ball, the way they maintain the club―each and every one of these things shows.
From the day that they take the club in their hands for the first time, the habits and tendencies of each golfer dictate how the history of the club will unfold
For instance, there was something we used to see back in the heyday of the persimmon wood. Drivers would be sent in for repairs where the metallic component had started to show because the persimmon wooden sole had been so heavily worn down. The owner likely had the habit of striking from the heel, which meant that in order to strike straight with the face open, he needed to cover the club head over the ball.
Another factor is the country where the golfer comes from. There are a number of Korean players who tend to play hard―real power hitters. Because of this, they wear down their clubs relatively quickly compared to their Japanese counterparts, and we get many requests to replace heads and shafts.
We currently have 14 full-time repair specialists at Sakata Plant, and they repair more than 200 clubs per week. This spring, we’ll be opening a repair shop in our Korean office, marking the beginning of our overseas operations.
Wakasugi says, “What I consider a perfect repair is not a repair at all.”
It’s not acceptable to simply do the repair work as you want to do it just because you think it’s right. To repair something does not mean to replace it completely; instead, it means to restore the item to its original condition. A golf club that has come to fit the golfer’s hand perfectly cannot be easily replaced, even if it does become necessary to have it repaired by somebody else. Therefore, even in cases where we have to give advice, we do the work remaining true to the customer’s wishes.” This is the policy of Wakasugi’s repair team.
Let’s take a look how the Sakata Plant repairs team has changed since Wakasugi joined the company.
Wakasugi joined Honma Golf in 1973, which makes him one of our oldest employees. At that time, he was working at our plant located in Tsurumi Ward, Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture, which had fewer than 100 employees. The work environment was like one big family, and the employees would even go on fun trips together on their days off. That same year, the Japanese economy was jolted by the wild price fluctuations of the first oil shock, and the country began to make the transition form super-growth toward stable growth. At that time the starting salary for new employees was still around \50,000. Even amidst this environment, Honma’s full set of golf clubs, which cost \160,000, sold like wildfire. For Wakasugi, this period of time was like living a dream.
Including Wakasugi, there were five employees in charge of repairs at that time. Being the lowest ranking of them, he was in charge of the process―known as “wrapping”―of wrapping the grip in the grip material. At the time, rubber was not yet the mainstream material used for the grip.