SFIA Member Spotlight — Henry-Griffitts
Henry-Griffitts, a pioneer and leader in the world of custom golf clubs, discusses the transitions and changes they have experienced in the past 35+ years of business, and what has made them the company they are today.
What is Henry-Griffitts?
Henry: Henry-Griffitts is a golf club company that specializes in custom-fit clubs and club fitting education.
So everything is custom-fit?
Henry: Yes, that’s always been the way we’ve done things. The company was founded in 1983, so we were actually one of the first companies to bring custom-built clubs to the masses.
How did Henry-Griffitts get its start?
Henry: It’s actually an interesting story. My dad founded the company with his partner, Jim Griffitts in the early eighties, but he got there by chance. He had just gotten his Tour card before getting in a car accident. It was a head-on collision that broke his back, legs, and neck and put him in the hospital for about a year and a half. When he came out, he couldn’t play golf like he used to. He tried to adapt his swing to his new body, but it just wasn’t working. That’s when he realized that it wasn’t his swing that was limiting him, but his equipment. He started tinkering with his clubs and came up with a set that worked with his swing, rather than against it. In the process, he realized that all golfers need equipment that is tailored for their particular swing, rather than some standard that will only work for a small number of people. Of course, at that time the prevailing thought was that one’s equipment didn’t matter at all, so it was really quite a radical idea.
What makes your company different than other golf retailers and manufacturers?
Henry: We only sell golf clubs through our authorized teachers and fitters, so we give the Tour experience to every golfer. It’s more than just a fitting, it’s a relationship with our company — from the fitter and the student to the club builder — so each player not only gets a set that’s made specifically for their swing, but an experience that is guaranteed all the way through.
How do you reach your consumers?
Henry: Mainly through out network of teachers, fitters, partners, and customers. We do a little social media and advertising as well, but we rely primarily on word of mouth and have for the last thirty-five years.
How common are custom-fit clubs in the golf industry?
Henry: At this point, everyone is offering custom-fit golf clubs, but we were one of the first companies to offer custom-fitting, and certainly the only one to do so exclusivey. In fact, we developed and patented a lot of the tools that other companies use for custom-fitting, so, even though we’re a small company in terms of size, we’re experts in all aspects of club-fitting.
Do you guys have any partners?
Henry: We’ve worked with a lot of different companies over the years, but essentially, we’re kind of a brand that has our niche and does a lot of different things through a lot of different pros all over the world and that’s really who our biggest partners are, our actual teaching pros.
Do they work with other companies?
Henry: There may be a golf course close by you that has a teacher that went through our training, and the course has one of our fitting cards there, and after they’ve gone through our training and understand how to use that, they have the ability to sell our clubs.
About how many of those partners do you have?
Henry: A couple hundred worldwide.
When did you guys start breaking into the global market?
Henry: We started in the U.S and the company still based out of the small town where it was founded, in Hayden Lake, Idaho. We started doing things internationally about 30 years ago. We opened a factory in Australia at about the same and it’s still a really big part of the business. It handles not only Australia but some of the Asian-Pacific market as well.
Is your international market or U.S. market the biggest?
Henry: Our U.S market is bigger than our international market, but we are actively growing out international market as well.
Are you guys located anywhere in retail?
Henry: Some of the pros have fitting centers or academies, so some of them have a retail environment you can go into. But most are green grass facilities like golf courses and because we only sell custom-fit clubs, we don’t sell clubs on the rack.
Who is your target audience?
Henry: Anyone looking for a comprehensive fitting experience or anybody having trouble with their game that hasn’t been able to find a fix. There’s about 4,000 different combinations on our fitting cart, so we can truly fit any swing.
How has the industry changed since Henry-Griffitts started?
Henry: In the early eighties, we were really the only people doing custom club fitting. Ping was also starting to dabble in that market, and now everybody does some sort of custom-fitting. We do it differently, in terms of the way we custom-fit clubs. We believe in finding the best teachers and fitters in the world and working with them to find the best fit using our 4,000-piece system and other state-of-the-art technologies. Perhaps the biggest change lies in the expectations of the players. Then there’s the technology in the golf club itself, which is so different than it was 35 years ago as well as the various technologies we use to fit clubs today.
What is the next big project for Henry-Griffitts?
Henry: We just introduced two new irons. Our HS1 Series and our TS3 Series. And we have some international projects that we are working on, to expand into new markets.
Do your teachers and fitters travel around the world?
Henry: People usually have a location and they bring us into that location because a big part of what we do when we sell the golf clubs is to continue to work with that customer and help their game advance. We don’t like to just sell people clubs and just walk away. We like to continue the relationship, to continue working with them, and make sure that our clubs get them playing the best game they can.
What principles does your company value?
Henry: We deliver an experience that may take more time, but we’re going to get a better product in the end and happier customers. All of our clubs are custom-built, which is not the most effective way to maximize profit, but we believe in delivering the right fit and experience to every customer. It’s worked very well for us, producing a very good product and an experience that can’t be found anywhere else.
What have been some big challenges for Henry-Griffitts?
Henry: Name recognition is probably one of the bigger challenges we have. Being a smaller company, we don’t have a large marketing budget. We’re very well known within the golf industry itself, reaching the customers that way and letting them know what we do. The biggest hurdle we have as a company is letting new golfers know who we are as well.
Do you sponsor any golfers?
Henry: We do sponsor some mini-Tour players and players on different Tours that we have some plans for. We never pay anyone to use our clubs. Through the years, we’ve worked with a lot of different Tour players on all the different Tours and moving forward we plan on doing a little more of that. But really who we work the most with are the teaching pros — the pros that someone sees when they go to their golf course.
Where do you see Henry-Griffitts in the next five years?
Henry: I think Henry-Griffitts is going to continue to do what we do in terms of being the leaders in club fitting. Not only in our golf clubs, but in golf fitting technology and education. I think that’s really where we’re going to expand, helping to deliver new advancements in club fitting that extend outside of our clubs themselves.