Premier area clubmaker Dick Bogdan couldn’t believe it when he got the telephone call late last month.
Not only was the Schenectady resident informed that he was
being inducted into the Professional Clubmakers Society Hall of Fame, but he was also told that his induction class included the legendary Jack Nicklaus, former PGA Tour standout and TV commentator Bob Rosburg and former Laurel Country Club golf director Seymour Dunn, who wrote one of the first books on the clubfitting process in 1922, called “Golf Fundamentals.”
The induction ceremony was held recently at the Innisbrook
Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla. Bogdan couldn’t attend, but his acceptance speech and biographical video were presented by longtime friend and PCS executive Tom Wishon, one of the top clubmakers in the nation.
“It was unbelievable,” said the
85-year-old Bogdan, who still makes and fits clubs at his home on Linden Street. “When I think of all the people who preceded me, like
[nationally honored clubmaker] Ralph Maltbie and Tom Wishon, I thought to myself, ‘Wow, do I belong?’ ”
Bogdan, who has worked with numerous club pros from the Northeastern New York PGA over the last two decades, was a charter member of the PCS in 1989. He was instrumental in creating the first PCS certification test, the Class A Clubmaker Exam. That exam, which is still used today, guarantees that clubmakers are certified and that they really know their craft.
But he didn’t exactly know what he was getting into when he agreed to help with the testing.
“Tom Wishon was the president of the Dynacraft golf club company at the time, and I spent a whole week out at their headquarters in Newark, Ohio,” Bogdan said. “Tom and I got together and wrote the PCS exam. We didn’t exactly know how to score it, so we set up a committee. Later, when I drove back out to Newark to meet with the committee, I found out that I was the committee. Tom told me to follow him, and we went across the hall to his workshop. There were 28 boxes stacked up in the corner, and each box consisted of a written test. Each test had 320 questions. Plus, each test had six completed golf clubs that had to be built according to our specifications.”
Although it was tedious, the written test, which included true and false and multiple choice questions, was relatively easy to correct. The golf clubs were a different story.
“We worked out some evaluation worksheets so that we were able to score the clubs on a percentage basis,” Bogdan said. “I had to break the clubs open to evaluate them. It was a lot of work. Originally, I corrected 28 boxes on my first visit to Newark. Then, after I went home, I was sent 350 sets. It took quite a while to evaluate them.”
STARTED AS CADDY
Golf was always a huge part of Bogdan’s life. At age 11, the Amsterdam native started as a caddy at Antlers Country Club, where he earned 75 cents a round.
“I caddied through high school and eventually, I got to be a pretty good player, but I always liked to tinker with my equipment,” said the former Gazette Senior Amateur champion who once carried a 2 handicap.
“Arnie Palmer always tinkered with his clubs, and I wanted to be just like him. I snapped the heads off eight or nine putters trying to put new grips on them. I tried to figure out how to fix the clubs myself, but then I thought there had to be a better way.”
Bogdan eventually heard about the Golfworks clubmakers shop in Newark, Ohio, and he signed up to take a course in 1980.
“I thought I knew it all after the first course, but when I went back the next year for the Level II course, I learned that I really didn’t know anything yet. Over the years, I found out that as technology kept improving, you had to stay on top of things. It was mind-boggling, but so challenging,” he said.
Clubmaking was actually Bogdan’s third career. His first career was a professor at Albany Business College from 1950 through 1985. He taught accounting, public relations and business administration. Later, he served as vice president in charge of student affairs, and was eventually made dean of academics.
While at ABC, Bogdan became the basketball coach, and he coached that team for 20 years.
“I met my wife, Rita, at ABC, and she’s been amazing all these years,” he said. “In April, we’ll be married for 60 years. She’s allowed me to turn our house into my own personal workshop, and has been so supportive all these years.
“Clubmaking has always been an art to me. I still work on clubs, but I’m a little more selective now. But it’s been a wonderful experience. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people who I would have never met if not for making clubs. I’ve fitted players from all walks of life, and the common ground was that they all wanted to play better golf.”
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