Golf is a game loaded with trad-ition, where changes in rules and technology have often moved at a snail’s pace over several centuries.
Steve Divnick is a talented inventor who tries to make one of the world’s toughest games easier to play for the average person.
It’s a strange relationship, but one in which Divnick has excelled over the last 25 years.
The 62-year-old Oregon native and former teacher now runs his own company called Divnick International, Inc. His slogan — “where imagination, inspiration and innovation meet” — is directly on point.
Although Divnick’s inventions include many items outside the world of golf, it’s his work with various types of extremely unusual clubs that has earned him a quite a reputation and drew my attention while surfing the web for unique golf equipment.
Perhaps his most famous golf-related invention is his “Whole-in-One Divnick,” which is a single club with a telescopic adjustable shaft that collapses short enough for easy travel. The neat thing about this club is that you can play your entire round with just the one club because the lofts can be adjusted with a lever to replicate every club in your bag, even a driver and a putter.
“The Whole-in-One Divnick is definitely my most popular club,” said Divnick in a recent telephone interview while on his way to a golf equipment show in Baltimore. “It led to everything else I developed in golf.”
Divnick’s special club is about the size of a 4-iron, and although it’s perfect for the casual player who travels a lot, it does have its drawbacks. Since it needs to be adjusted for every shot, it’s not sanctioned by the USGA in tournaments. Also, as Divnick warns on his own website, since the club isn’t that big, it can’t generate the speed and power of the longer clubs, like the driver or 3-wood. Another problem is that when you try to use the club like a sand wedge, it isn’t heavy enough to blast through the sand like a regular sand wedge. It works, but it takes time to get used to.
To compensate for some of the weaknesses in his “miracle club,” he began working on adjustable, telescopic drivers and putters that have a more conventional feel.
Another of his most popular inventions is the Big Stik driver, which uses high loft and low back spin to promote longer tee shots for the average player. They come in lofts of 11, 13 and 15.
Divnick also has a corresponding Little Stik, or 3-wood, as well as complete sets of hybrid irons from a 3-iron all the way to a sand wedge. These hybrids are all pure hybrids and don’t resemble irons.
Another interesting invention is his “super wedges,” including a lob wedge that has a loft of 68 degrees. “You can make a full swing and it lands on the green like a butterfly with sore feet,” he said.
“All the things I have invented have two things in common,” said Divnick. “First, they are mechanical in nature, as opposed to electrical or another form. Secondly, my inventions are the result of trying to make something better. I don’t go through life thinking about things to invent. I just go through life and notice things that could be improved.”
As an example, Divnick took up the game of golf at age 40 while playing with his cousin. He was using an old set of hand-me-down clubs, and he wasn’t having much fun. He thought there was an easier way to play the game with fewer clubs.
“I wanted to have one club where I could play the whole game and not have to carry a whole set,” he said. “I have refined my craft over the years.”
Ironically, Divnick’s father was a salesman who struggled to make ends meet his entire life. Divnick didn’t want anything to do with his father’s career, yet now, he has become the ultimate salesman of his own products.
“I struggle with the game just like everyone else,” said Divnick. “I play to a 10 or 11 handicap. On any given day I can shoot a 90 or I can shoot in the high 70s. I was athletic all my life, and I was a physical education teacher who played a lot of sports when I was younger. I figured I was big and strong, and when I saw Arnold Palmer, I thought I could play like him because he was so strong. But I’ve found that golf is very elusive for the average player. There are some people who are very athletic but who can’t play golf very well at all.”
When Divnick plays, he uses five of his own clubs, a Big Stik driver, a 3-iron hybrid, an adjustable club that he can play shots from a 4-iron through a pitching wedge, a sand wedge and what he calls a chest, or long putter.
“Sometimes, when I go on a trip, I still carry just the driver, my adjustable iron club and a putter, he said.
“I’ve sold thousands of my clubs. When I started out, it was just a hobby, but now it’s part of my business.”
Divnick’s most famous invention outside of golf was his spiral, coin-funneling wishing wells, which raised more than $200 million for various charities. He’s invented an online voice conference system, a houseboat and yacht boat lift and professional graphic topical ecards, among other things.
“Much of my business is through referrals,” he said. “When people see me or some of my customers use the clubs, they want to try it themselves. I have a very loyal following. People trust me. I take care of my customers. That’s why I get constant referrals from them.
“I always thought teaching would be my career, and I never imagined I would be a businessman and an inventor. I didn’t orchestrate it or plan it this way.”
For more information on Div-nick’s unusual collection of clubs and golf equipment, check out his website at Divnick.com.
I’m not sure the USGA and the R&A are making the right decision about the upcoming ban on anchoring the long and belly putters by the year 2016.
I’ve tried both, and they didn’t help me much, but for those pros, like Keegan Bradley, Tim Clark and Adam Scott, it’s helped their game tremendously. Some older pros, and senior amateurs, use it because they have aching backs or other physical ailments.
Golf is an extremely difficult game, and if a long putter or belly putter can make it a bit easier for a certain segment of players, I don’t see it as a major problem.
I do understand the traditionalists who maintain anchoring alters what a putting stroke was intended to do, but, like the PGA of America, I’m all for anything that will promote the game and bring more people into it.
I just hope the PGA Tour doesn’t decide to ignore the ban.
u The New York State Public High School Athletic Association Golf Championship is set for June 2-3 at Cornell, but the Section II team has been altered because of playing conflicts. The revised roster includes Matt Parrottino of Voorheesville, Calvin Beckwith of Saratoga Springs, Davis Jensen of Shaker, Aaron Simone of Niskayuna, David Renko of Scotia-Glenville, Thomas Kenneally of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Alex Gibson of Glens Falls, Josh Fonda of Gloversville and Thomas Cassidy of Albany Academy.
u Pioneer Hills Golf Course will host an ABCD scramble tourn-ament every Friday evening at 5:15. It’s open to all who call and sign up by 4:30 p.m. the day of the event. Cost is $25 ($12 for golf, $8 for cart and $5 for prize fund). Call head pro Keith Sprenger at 885-7000 for more information.
u The Eastern New York Golf Association plays its next weekly event Wednesday at Western Turnpike Golf Club.
u Country Club of Troy will host the Northeastern New York PGA’s Pro-Senior Championship Tuesday at the Country Club of Troy.
u The 20th annual Great Danes Golf Classic will be held June 3 at Albany Country Club. Entry fee is $175 per player and includes golf, cart, breakfast, lunch, dinner and complimentary gift. Call 442-3054 for more information.
u The Association of United States Army Capital District Chapter-NY Golf fund raiser will be held June 13 at Eagle Crest Golf Club. Cost for the four-man scramble is $100 and includes golf, cart, Continental breakfast, hot dog or hamburger at the turn, beer, soda and a chicken barbecue following golf. Call John Willsey at 786-0389 for more information.
u Cobleskill Golf & Country Club is now accepting weekend tee-times on a first come/first served basis. Call 234-4045 for reservations.
u The 10th annual Glens Falls Lions Club tournament will be held June 1 at Airway Meadows Golf Course at 12:45 p.m. Top prize for the four-person scramble is $400. Entry fee is $85 and includes hot dog and beer/soda at the turn, as well as a steak/chicken barbecue afterward. Glens Falls native and current NBA player Jimmer Fredette memorabilia will be live auctioned. Contact Scott Rager at [email protected] or Jim Clark at [email protected] for more information.
u Fox Run Golf Club owner Rich Bennice shot a 70 at Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course.
u There are only a few spots left in the morning flight for the 23rd annual ALS Memorial golf tourn-ament, to benefit the ALS Regional Center at St. Peter’s Hospital,
June 26 at Van Patten Golf Club.
There will be a 7 a.m. shotgun start. Entry fee is $155 per player. There will be a reception and dinner for both flights after golf, along with an auction.
There are still raffle tickets available ($100 each or $250 for three) for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to participate in the Lexus Champions for Charity National Championship at Pebble Beach. The package includes round-trip airfare, five days and four nights or accommodations, plus 18 holes of golf at Pebble Beach, Spy Glass and Spanish Bay.
There is also a raffle to win $1,000 in Southwest Airlines tickets. That raffle is $10 each or three for $25. Contact Scott Daly (377-2236) or Steve Michaels (857-1934) for more information.
Jimmy Becker eagled the par-4 16th hole at Mechanicville Golf Club.
While playing in The C.W. Players league at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course, Jay Singh holed out with a 9-iron for eagle on the 420-yard 18th hole.
Don Isaacson eagled the ninth hole while competing in the Misfits league at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.
Brian Kubicki eagled the second hole at Mohawk River Country Club & Chateau while playing in the KAPL league.
Pat Dufresne eagled the 10th at Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course.