“I knew I had to give it a shot. If I had tried and it didn’t work out, I would’ve been okay with that. But I had to go after my passion and see where it went.”
Jeremy Wright gets it. Taking over at Louisville Golf is not for everybody. This isn’t a multi-billion-dollar revenue generating machine with private research facilities and elaborate corporate complexes. It’s not about money…or fame…or 385-yard drives. Gerard Just, the youngest of the Just brothers who started Louisville Golf might have summed it up best:
“You know, I guess you could say we’re simple people. We don’t really go on vacations. But we work hard and we enjoy what we do. We don’t make a lot of money. I don’t think my kids could afford to work here to be honest, but they hate their jobs. We never really had that problem.”
Louisville Golf was established in 1974 by Elmore Just and Steve Taylor when they left Hillerich & Bradsby (crafters of Louisville Slugger baseball bats and Power-Bilt golf clubs). Elmore ran the business side of the company and Steve oversaw the manufacturing aspect. Back then, in the heyday of persimmon, the club manufacturers were on an allotment. Since persimmon (remarkably well-suited for golf clubs due to its strength and density) is a relatively slow-growing wood, there was only so much material to go around and upstart Louisville Golf had to fight for every block they got. Eventually, they built the business into a major player, making 800 clubs a day for the likes of Hogan, MacGregor, Wilson, Spalding, and others.
Some of Louisville Golf’s more well-known woods that won on the PGA Tour were the Wilson Whale that Payne Stewart used to win the 1989 PGA Championship and the Hogan Apex that Tom Kite used to win the 1992 US Open at Pebble Beach. Then metal woods came into the picture and sales dwindled. When Callaway launched the Big Bertha, sales basically dried up overnight.
Though metal woods took off like a rocket in the 1990’s, there were some holdouts. Justin Leonard, Davis Love III, and Mark Calcavecchia held onto their persimmon woods into the late 90s. The last man standing was widely considered to be Bob Estes, who used his Louisville Golf Smart ProBE (a club Just developed specifically for Estes) in the Accenture Match Play in 2001.
When Elmore Just passed away in April of 2001, his brother Mike assumed control of the company. Elmore is actually buried at Persimmon Ridge Golf Club in Louisville, an Arthur Hills course he developed in the 1980’s. When Mike took the reins, though the company had successfully limped along through the metal wood revolution, the hard reality was that they needed to reinvent themselves if they were going to remain profitable. Mike left his mark on the company in 2004 by deciding to leverage Louisville Golf’s unique expertise into crafting period-correct hickory shafted golf clubs and restoring vintage specimens. That decision marked a resurgence of sorts, as the niche has served Louisville Golf well. Today, Louisville Golf and St. Andrews Golf Co. are the only large scale manufacturers of such equipment.
It’s a peculiar set of circumstances to be sure, but oddly enough, many golfers in the 21st century have found Louisville Golf through 100-year-old golf clubs. This is exactly how Jeremy Wright came into the picture. Jeremy was a medical sales representative in Houston, TX with a wife, three kids, and a serious golfing hobby. He had recently gone on a search for an exotic shaft upgrade for his Scotty Cameron putter. On a whim, he googled wooden shafts, stumbled across hickory golf clubs, and the rest was history.
“One of the things I learned in that search was that, when the golf industry transitioned from hickory shafts to steel, a lot of players either kept their old hickory putters or would fit their new putters with hickory shafts for decades after that transition because the feel was so much better.
“So I kept digging into hickory golf and tried to learn what it was all about. I discovered there were hickory tournaments and the winners shot like 75-78 and I thought, ‘I can do that. I’m going to get a hickory set together and figure this out.’ From that point on, I was hooked. There was no going back.”
So hooked, in fact, that when Jeremy heard the Just family was fielding offers for the company as a result of Mike’s passing in October of 2016, he put his name in the hat. It just so happened that Jeremy and his wife were both at a point in their careers where they were looking for more. Burned out and tired of the cyclical corporate rat race, they decided to go all-in on Jeremy’s passion, submitted an offer to the Just family, and ultimately were selected from multiple potential suitors to carry on the legacy of the company.
As for where Louisville Golf goes from here, you can probably expect a lot more of what got them here in the first place. After all, one of the biggest reasons Jeremy was selected to take the reins at Louisville Golf was his commitment to preserving its heritage. Louisville Golf may not be rubbing elbows with the major OEM’s anymore, but these days, they’re not trying to either. Just like the rest of us golfers, they’re getting by with grit, optimism, and respect for the game. They’ve also seen the fortunate bounces and bad lies that come with a life dedicated to golf, but as the old adage says, the most important shot is always the next one. Time marches on. And so does Louisville Golf. They remain committed to what has brought them this far and see that as a springboard into the future.
“We’ve got some products in the works that I think are really innovative and will show what persimmon is really capable of. I think if you’re a better player who can find the sweet spot on a consistent basis, you really should think seriously about persimmon. Especially if you’re looking to get a specific yardage out of your clubs like with a fairway wood or hybrid. There was a video circulating a few years ago with Rickie Fowler using a steel shafted persimmon fairway wood and he was getting a 1.49 smash factor. You can’t get much better than that. The way the bulge and roll is shaped on a persimmon wood and also the location of the CG allows for a bigger gear effect than modern titanium woods. Persimmons do impart more spin on the ball (especially on a mishit), so we acknowledge the ball may not go as far, but that spin also brings the ball back to the target, too. That’s one of the biggest advantages of persimmon. You’ll be shorter but in the fairway as opposed to long and in the trees.
“The people that find us are looking for a deeper connection to the tradition and the spirit of the game. They’re tired of paying for marketing fluff and silly catch phrases. We make viable alternatives for the modern golfer, we make classic reproductions of the steel shaft/persimmon head era of golf, and we make spot-on hickory shafted clubs as well, so we think we have a place in just about everyone’s bag depending on how you prefer to experience the game. Nothing compares to the joy of a purely struck golf shot with a wooden golf club. You just feel like you’re playing golf the way it was meant to be played.”
A visit to Louisville Golf reveals a group of people who have dedicated their lives to exactly that: playing the game the way it was meant to be played. Hard work, attention to detail, a commitment to quality, and having a lot of fun along the way are the hallmarks of their operation. One strike directly on that persimmon sweet spot will send all of those vibes straight into your bones. Playing golf with persimmon woods in the 21st century may be taking the road less traveled, but it could make all the difference.
Club Junkie: Titleist T-Series irons – A deep dive with Titleist’s Josh Talge
Titleist’s new T-Series irons are out and have had a lot of use on tour as well as a lot of adoption by GolfWRXers. Josh Talge takes some time to talk with me about all the details of the T100, T100S, T200, and the T300. It is a deep dive into each iron and what tech has made them such good irons for all golfers!
Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Our take on the Professional Long Drive Championship and the new Foresight GC3
From watching bombs from the best athletes in the long drive sport, to analyzing how speed training can benefit you and diving into another piece of technology that can help sharpen your swing. This short excerpt will be smooth like a morning coffee.
Be the Number: 2021 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open fantasy, betting picks, and preview
Stats and strategy guru Spencer Aguiar (@teeoffsports) and former D1 golfer Josephine Chang (@jchang1020) dive deep into the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Tune in for picks, predictions, DFS, GPP, draws, fades, bets, and more!
Patrick Reed’s Twitter suggests that he’s fuming with Stricker’s Ryder Cup snub
‘My first-hand experience with Bryson DeChambeau’
Taking the backyard putting green plunge
4-wood vs 7-wood vs hybrid – GolfWRXers discuss
The Wedge Guy: More on learning – the grip
Jessica Korda calls out social media ‘hate’ as rise in online abuse continues
Justin Rose’s caddie calls into question U.S. player’s graciousness at Solheim Cup
Clement: This wrist position can add 30 yards to your drive
Steve Stricker shares positive news from Tiger Woods’ rehab
Report: Bryson calls out ‘Brooksie’ heckler following playoff defeat
Sungjae Im’s winning WITB: 2021 Shriners Open
Driver: Titleist TSi2 (8 degrees) Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 7 X (45.25 inches) 3-wood: Titleist TS3 (13.5) (B1...
Rafa Cabrera Bello’s winning WITB: 2021 Spanish Open
Rafa Cabrera Bello what’s in the bag accurate as of the Spanish Open. All photos c/o @sms_on_tour Driver: Titleist TSi3 (10...
Matthew Wolff WITB 2021 (October)
Matthew Wolff what’s in the bag accurate as of the Shriners Open. Driver: TaylorMade SIM (9 degrees @7.5) Shaft: Graphite...
Harry Higgs WITB 2021 (October)
Harry Higgs what’s in the bag accurate as of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Driver: TaylorMade SIM2 (8 degrees...
19th Hole3 days ago
Bryson reveals the cut-off point on money list where players make an annual loss on Tour
19th Hole2 days ago
Tiger Woods photographed back on golf course with son Charlie
19th Hole3 weeks ago
Sergio Garcia’s wife fires warning to ’embarrassing’ U.S. Ryder Cup fans
19th Hole2 weeks ago
‘Patrick Cantlay p****d me off’ – European Ryder Cup rookie hits out at U.S. star
19th Hole3 weeks ago
‘What the f**k you doing?’ – Former Masters champ tells Brooks Koepka to ‘get a life’
19th Hole2 weeks ago
The ruthless message Tiger Woods sent to inspire the U.S team at Ryder Cup
19th Hole4 days ago
Why Harris English’s putter grip led to strange ruling at Ryder Cup
Podcasts1 week ago
The 19th Hole Episode 168: Long Drive Champ Maurice Allen discusses Bryson