Golf is a unique sport. You may be playing in a foursome, but it’s your individual score that counts. You might be able to run a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, but that doesn’t mean you’re good within 40 yards of the green. It’s a mental game of inches … the 6 inches between your ears.
One might think that a golf club is just a golf club; that, because a driver is $100 more than another, it means you’ll instantly become Tiger Woods off the tee. Much like the ski and snowboard industry, this perception couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Enter Rick’s Golf World in Olean, NY. Helping golfers find the right clubs since 1990, it’s a full-service shop that should be a destination for any golfer serious about their swing. With name brands such as Taylor Made, Ping, Puma, Cobra, Callaway, Titleist and FootJoy, owner Pete Lisi has built the business into the reputable one it is today.
“We’ve been in our current location (228 N. Union Street) since January of last year,” Lisi said. “Unlike our old space, it allows us to offer more floor space for product as well as a bigger swing cage for the FlightScope.”
One of the coolest features offered by any shop in the area, the FlightScope system uses radar to track the actual flight of the golf ball after your swing. Developed by South African electronics engineer Henri Johnson in 1989, FlightScope uses a Doppler radar system to record your ball movement, backspin, flight path, club head speed/angle and much more. The company originally (and currently still) develops defense radar systems for countries around the world.
Lisi bought the system in February and said it’s been an instant success. The new building allowed him to put a swing cage in that was much bigger than the last - making the customer feel like he’s not swinging the club in a closet. With a 210” diagonal screen, customers hit the ball and watch to see where the ball goes.
“Our old system was okay, but I didn’t have the screen to hit into,” Lisi said. “The system tracks the ball and swing separately. That way, I can work with customers to find them the perfect club.”
Lisi’s system works like this: a customer can come in and try a bunch of different clubs (specifically, drivers). After the customer hits a couple balls off of different drivers, he’ll pull up a screen that shows the different clubs’ “angle of attack” and “carry distance” - so if someone is hitting a Callaway driver 10 yards further and more straight than a Taylor Made one, then they’ve found the winner. Fitting is $50, but Lisi will knock that off the retail price if the customer so chooses to purchase it.
“The FlightScope system is also good for ‘club gapping’,” Lisi said. “Let’s say you hit your 3-wood 240 yards and your 4-iron 190. We need to find you a club that you can hit at that consistent 200-210 yard range. The customer can try out some hybrids or different clubs to find that sweet spot.”
There are different camera-based systems that take individual photographs of the ball’s flight path, but FlightScope is only one of two that actually implements a radar system to track it. Lisi said that in the summer, it’s not that big (golfers can hit the range to see that) but in the winter it’s a huge hit.
Rick’s Golf World is a full-service shop that offers regripping, fitting and anything else a golfer could ask for. If you want to really figure out the best clubs to buy, don’t buy them from some website because they’re cheaper. Head to Rick’s, get the best bang for your buck and support a small business. Rick’s Golf World is open year-round. Pete can be reached at 716-373-6400.