Stephens enjoys doctoring on clubs

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 31, 1999

Whenever Vidalia, La., native Richard Stephens Jr., went into a golf shop, he ran into the same problem.

&uot;I’m left-handed,&uot; he said. &uot;I would walk in and some guy would have some clubs that I liked, but the golf shop wouldn’t have one.&uot;

So one day a friend suggested Stephens make one of his own.

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Several years later, Stephens, who now lives in Florence, is still making them.

&uot;I got the phone number for a golf supply house and they walked me through how to make one over the telephone,&uot; Stephens said. &uot;I just started re-gripping clubs for my buddies after that and it’s grown ever since.&uot;

Stephens, 58, does not actually custom-make clubs for a living – his full-time job is with a company that manufactures truck parts over the Southern States.

&uot;Over two or three years it grew and now it keeps me fairly busy,&uot; he said.

What makes Stephens’ situation even more unique is that he is not an avid golfer.

&uot;I really didn’t care anything about the game, I just enjoyed building clubs for myself,&uot; he said &uot;Then people started coming to me to build clubs for them. I’ve been doing that for seven or eight years.&uot;

Stephens doesn’t advertise because he keeps busy enough.

&uot;Too much work might interfere with my business,&uot; he said. &uot;But making clubs is a tremendous business opportunity and it’s just now beginning to catch on. A lot of big brand names are now offering club making as an option. But it takes them about six weeks. If I fit somebody with a club, they’ll be on the golf course the next week&uot;

Stephens said he has had a variety of requests.

&uot;Everybody wants something different,&uot; he said. &uot;Every request I get is unusual. Most peole want their club longer or shorter. A lot of people want clubs cut down for their youngsters. I once made a set for a 6-year old that was very short.&uot;

Stephens, who specializes in clubs for left-handers, said there are three major components to a club but they have thousands of combinations.

&uot;If someone has a bad slice or hook, I can change the configurartion to help them with their shot.&uot;

Stephens was among the final class that graduated from Vidalia High when it was by the levee.

He really didn’t get into golf until 10 years ago.

&uot;I mainly fished up until then,&uot; he said.. &uot;I kind of did it because of the group of guys I was with. It’s kind of like a club.&uot;

Stephens lives with his wife Margaret in Florence. They have three children, Mike (32), Mitch (31) and Robin (who attends Hinds) and a grandson.

Anyone wanting to Stephens to work on their clubs can call 601-845-8909. Cost is usually around $200.