By Evan Rothman

A chat with the man behind Kama‘aina Clubmakers

SINCE RELOCATING FROM MAUI three-and-a-half years ago, Mike Moynahan’s 40-by-40-foot shop, Kama’aina Club-makers, has become the Big Island’s hot spot for serious golfers determined to get the right equipment for their game. The retired naval officer has had a lifelong love affair with golf, starting at age 6 at Waialae Country Club, where his parents played three times weekly. Moynahan developed into an accomplished junior and collegiate golfer.

In retirement, Moynahan, 71, decided to “play around with the golf biz.” He immersed himself in club-making, club-fitting and club-repair education and opened a full-service operation out of his home workshop. Eventually, he was servicing the two courses at Kaanapali and the three at Kapalua, where his son Brendan was the head professional and where Mike became the de facto “tour van” for the PGA Tour’s season-opening, winners-only event, the SBS Championship. Brendan is now director of golf at the Hualalai Four Seasons and Mike works with the Champions Tour pros when they come to town for the Mitsubishi Electric Championship. Mostly, though, he helps everyday golfers make sure their clubs give them the best chance for success on the links.

Here are some of the highlights of his golfing story:

Because my father was in the Navy, we moved around quite a bit. I went to 13 schools before college. Everywhere we went there was golf. It was a consistent thing in my life.

I got to play against Mr. (Jack) Nicklaus in a three-way match with Ohio State and Pitt (University of Pittsburgh) when I was in the Naval Academy. This was 1960, and he’d already won the U.S. Amateur in 1959. I only lost 3-and-2, which I thought was pretty good. I was 3 or 4 under par; he set the course record.

Some of the winners at Kapalua are demanding, to say the least. I won’t mention any names, but one gentleman who’s moved from the PGA Tour to the Champions Tour hasn’t gotten any better with age. The Champions Tour guys are less worried about it being pretty than getting the club done and trying it.

In the early days at Kapalua, my favorite people were the gentlemen who took the bags off the airplanes. We had more broken drivers … one month I re-shafted 60 drivers. Things have changed. They’ve hardened the cases, for one thing.

The quality of the components I use is equal to anything out there. They come from the same foundries that Titleist and Callaway and TaylorMade use. Their designs are comparable. The OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) may spend 70 percent of their money on advertising and 30 percent on R&D, whereas the component makers are about 90 percent into R&D and 10 percent on advertising.

Why do so many people still buy clubs off the rack? It’s an advertising thing: “Tiger Woods uses this driver.” He may use that driver, but that’s not what you’re buying. That shaft? It’s handpicked, hand-rolled, hand-everything. It’s not what you’re going to get from an OEM.

Most clubs you buy off the rack are built for a certain body that they dreamed up, because you’ve got to mass-produce them. Even when they’re custom-made, they don’t do what we clubmakers do. We build to swingweight and to MOI, moment-of-inertia, so that the feeling from club to club is the same in each category – woods, hybrids, irons and wedges.

I broke enough clubs in my early life that this is payback in a way. It’s very rewarding to see that you’ve helped someone, and they smile.

GOLF GEAR
Compiled by HiLuxury Team

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