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By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

He helps golfers get in the swing

 

September 19, 2019

Jamie Stewart | The Shafter Press

Ken Hurlbert has won multiple national titles in the shot put.

There is a local business in Shafter that is helping golfers in their quest for that elusive improvement in their scores.

Ken Hurlbert is a custom golf club fitter who has been assisting people in finding that perfect set of clubs.

Hurlbert said has been playing golf since 1961 and was a decent golfer, getting to where he would shoot in the 90s on a regular basis, sometimes hitting the 80 mark, but after a time, didn't see any additional improvement in his game.

He tried a variety of different tutorials online, as well as reading up on the subject, trying to get that extra scoring help, but to no avail. In 1987, Hurlbert found a way to improve his game that he would never have imagined.

Hurlbert contacted a club fitter that was recommended to him by a friend. The fitter was located in New Jersey and after speaking with him on the phone, the gentleman said that if he was interested in learning the trade, that he would be willing to let Hurlbert observe his techniques and would also outfit him with his own set of clubs.

Hurlbert spent two weeks in Maryland with him, watching how the man dealt with his customers and the process he went through to find a perfect fit. The man's customers included some of the top golfers in the world, including Greg Norman, Tom Kite and many others who are in the top 50 golfers in the world.

The process includes observing the golfer's swing, analyzing where and when in the swing the club shaft bends before impact and when it straightens out to complete the swing. Each golfer has a unique grip size, according to their hands, as well as timing on their swing and where it makes contact with the ball.

Hulbert said that he took this knowledge, and his new set of clubs and went home to check out the results. Hurlbert's friends were amazed when he went from a golfer that shoots in the 90s to consistently scoring in the low 80s. After a couple of months, Hurlbert was shooting in the 70s, prompting his friends to ask what happened to cause this drastic improvement.

Hurlbert then started fitting clubs for individuals, and as the results grew, so did his customer base, prompting him to seek out a storefront to run his business. He found a building that was an old financing company, with a huge glass window in the front and a space in the back that he used as a shop. He started making his own clubs, as well as doing the fitting for the customers. "I take the heads of the clubs and create the club by attaching the custom shafts and grips to them, giving the customer a club that they cannot get in a normal retail store," said Hurlbert.

"The clubs that are sold in the big retail stores are fine, but they will never allow the golfer to reach their full scoring potential because they don't completely fit to that person's build, hand size, and swing technique."

Hurlbert tired of the hustle and bustle of the retail store and decided to go back to his own shop, making and fitting clubs for customers on an appointment-only basis, enjoying the slower pace and the relationships that are built with the customers. In 2015, Hurlbert purchased a home in Shafter, wanting to live in a quieter environment and still keep busy with his business. He also got the bonus of living next door to his son, former Shafter City Manager Scott Hurlbert. "I love Shafter and the community, and it is great having my son as a neighbor."

Hurlbert said that he will meet with anyone who is looking to improve their game and would like to have their own set of custom-fit clubs. While a set of clubs can vary in price, from a basic set of clubs at Walmart to a top brand set from a store such as Dick's Sporting Goods, a lot of people are under the impression that a custom set of clubs would be much more expensive. Not so, says Hurlbert.

"You can buy a basic set for about $300 from Walmart or pay $1,200 from Dick's and the results would probably not differ too much in scoring. People don't realize that a custom set of clubs can be had for less than what you would spend at Dick's for a top name-brand set of clubs."

In addition to the golf business, Hurlbert also keeps busy winning medals as a top-flight shot putter. Hurlbert has won two national titles in the shot put for his age group. Hurlbert has won a total of about 75 medals from around the country, enjoying the comradery of competing and understanding the mechanics of the throwing. "I threw in school and really enjoyed it. It wasn't until I had retired that I got back into throwing and I am still going strong, competing at meets all over the state and the country."

Hurlbert said that he is looking forward to meeting more people from Shafter, Wasco and all of the surrounding areas that would like to make that improvement to their golf game. He stands by all of his work and will follow up on any concerns the customers have. Like Hurlbert said, "Once they buy a set of clubs and are fitted by me, we are like partners and I will make sure that they are happy with the results and their experience."

 

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