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Moving On Up

Golf Central opens on second floor of Boston Center

Golf Central, where golf season never ends, has a new location not far from its old one.

The Fort Dodge business recently moved from the first floor of the Boston Center, 809 Central Ave., to the second floor.

“We went from about 4,000 square feet of usable space downstairs and we are around 7,000 square feet up here,” said owner Ted Hanson. “The logistics are laid out a lot better.”

The second floor also features three aboutGOLF indoor golf simulators, one more than the business had when it was on the first floor.

That allows players to play a round of golf during months when the weather isn’t as inviting. For the fall league simulation that is getting underway, Hanson said 110 players have signed up to come in and play every week.

(Mike Wiltzius, of Fort Dodge, prepares for his next shot during a golf simulation game at Golf Central.)

Patrons can buy golf supplies, practice their game with the simulators and order from Olde Boston’s Restaurant and Pub. The store features a spacious seating area with a view of the downtown and a display room that features golf memorabilia and books.

“We have become a year-round indoor golf center,” Hanson said. “We now offer club fitting, club repairs, customization and we will be now offering lessons with Judd Gibb. He’s on staff with us now. We are excited to have him working with us. He’s been one of the top teaching pros in the state for years as well as one of the top players. He brings a lot of knowledge to our business. Between the simulators and lessons and what I can do on the equipment side, it’s pretty much a one stop shop.”

Gibb was inducted into the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame on Sept. 10.

Golf Central moved to Central Avenue in 2010. Before that, it was at Dave Hanson’s shop in Gowrie. Dave Hanson is Ted Hanson’s father.

“It’s been a family business the whole time,” said Dave Hanson.

(Ted Hanson, owner of Golf Central, holds up a driver in one of the golf simulator rooms on the second floor of the Boston Center, 809 Central Ave. Hanson does club fitting, club repairs and customization at his shop.) As father and son, the two started taking classes in 2008 to learn how to help others with their golf game.

“It started out more as a hobby from dad’s shop in Gowrie and grew from there,” Ted Hanson said. “That’s where we set up our original launch monitor and FlightScope.”

At that time, the business was called Hanson’s Custom Golf. Later, when the Hansons bought Golf Central from Butch Rodenborn in August of 2012, they kept the name.

“That’s the point where it became one business,” Ted Hanson said.

Ted Hanson ended up taking more classes and earning more certifications than his father. Dave Hanson has remained Ted Hanson’s biggest supporter and helper.

(The variety of golf club head customizations are shown here by Ted Hanson, owner of Golf Central.)

“The first class was called Golfsmith’s Complete Clubmakers Training Program at Golf Smith’s headquarters in Austin, Texas,” Ted Hanson recalled. “|The first three classes I went to were all at that location. I’ve also been to several classes at Mitchell in Dayton, Ohio. Mitchell is a company that builds a lot of club repair equipment that is used in shops all over the world, but also the vans that follow the pros around to work on their clubs.”

One of Ted Hanson’s favorite classes was for a FlightScope certification training at Taylor Made Golf Company headquarters in Carlsbad, California.

“That’s where they fit their tour made professionals,” Ted Hanson said. “That was a blast. Then also while traveling to all these different classes, I would always make it a point to look up every golf shop in the area to see how they were doing it. I learned a lot of great stuff and also learned some things I didn’t want to do. Another great learning experience has been spending a little time watching the guys build the clubs on the tour van. Nick Faldo and Stacy Lewis (professional golfers)) on the Mizuno tour van. That influenced a lot of my building process that I use for everything that comes through the shop.”

Ted Hanson primarily customizes the head and ferrules of a golf club.

“I work with all the major club manufacturers,” Ted Hanson said. “The main ones I work with are Taylor Made, Mizuno, Callaway because I can get components from those manufacturers. There’s a lot of dealers that are able to buy complete clubs from those companies. There aren’t nearly as many dealers to buy the heads to build however I please and that’s just because they’ve seen my work and I’m going to put out equipment that is up to their standards."

“So with a lot of my online customers, they know I’m able to build what they want when it’s things the factory is not going to build for them. That’s the main reason they would come to me rather than buying from Taylor Made directly. I enjoy the fitting, especially when I hear people come back to me and tell me how much it’s helped their game.”

Ted Hanson has been around the game of golf for as long as he can remember.

“Thirty years ago he was hanging around with me in a custom golf shop,” Dave Hanson said. “At that time there used to be a Caddyshack Golf Shop.”

Ted Hanson said his online sales through eBay and online forums has picked up in the last few years.

“Over the last three years, the online sales part of my business has been the largest,” Ted Hanson said. “The club business in general has been good. My local sales have gotten better and better each year for probably the last five or six years.”

Ted Hanson said he reaches customers in all 50 states.

And while COVID-19 negatively impacted multiple businesses, Ted Hanson said there was more interest in the game this year.

“I didn’t have any idea how COVID would impact my business,” Ted Hanson said. “It turned out golf was one of the lucky ones. My online business was up and local business jumped up as well. We saw a lot of new people get into the game this year. We saw people who hadn’t played in 10 years get back into it — looking for new clubs, something that would fit them. That was in addition to the great customers we already have. We have a real loyal client base from a 50 or 60 mile radius.”

In years past, not as many people were interested in a custom club. But that has changed, according to Ted Hanson.

“The average equipment customer is a lot more interested in getting fit now,” he said. “When we first started a lot of people were more interested in just buying something off the rack but they see the value in being fitted. If you are going to make the investment in high-end golf clubs, you might as well do the fitting because its not going to cost you more in most cases now to get the fitting. It can be more expensive if you want the high end cutting shafts. Sometimes the tour issue stuff is different than what you can get for retail but not everybody would necessarily need that. That’s really up to the customer. Most of my local fitting customers, we find things we can order from the factories that is a very good fit for them.”

Ted Hanson is just happy to be involved in a business that is also a hobby of his.

“I’m pretty fortunate to make it a full-time business in something I’m passionate about,” he said. “When I went to that first class I never imagined that I would have a facility like this or that I would actually be full-time in the golf business.”

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