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Lestrokes Inc.

Custom golf club creator Lowell "Shep" Shepler, owner and president of Lestrokes Inc. in New Haven just east of Fort Wayne, isn't in the Indiana Golf Hall of Fame because the museum hasn't yet officially opened. But don't be surprised someday to find his carefully created creations at the Franklin museum due to open this summer.

Another place you probably won't find Shepler's company is in a golf-equipment manufacturers' directory. Yet golf enthusiasts may already know that his approach to custom-fitting golf clubs is revolutionary.

Where you will find Shepler most days is at 511 Broadway in New Haven's old Blackwell grocery, where he runs his custom golf club and repair center. Since Shepler began in 1979 taking golf-club orders--which remain a large portion of his business--he has expanded the operation to include club refinishing, repair and regripping, plus the sale of golf apparel and supplies.

He also has a golf simulator, unique to Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan. Golfers use their equipment to play holes projected on a screen; the films are from Pinehurst and Pebble Beach. The cost is $15 for 18 holes, $8 for nine. Shepler anticipates an early-winter or late-fall opening of his new golf and recreation center that will offer three or four simulators.

Lestrokes is best known for making custom-fitted golf clubs for serious golfers who aim for less strokes. By combining both scientific principles and years of practical experience to produce golf clubs, Shepler's company has become one of the few facilities in the world to offer his fitting method.

Called the Swing-Sync Frequency Matching System, it provides a set of clubs matched precisely to the golfer's normal swing and physical characteristics. With these matched clubs, the player's natural swing is enhanced and rewarded as the golf ball gets to the target with consistently fewer strokes, because the player doesn't have to make any subconscious compensations for an ill-fitted club.

Golf clubs made by Lestrokes are measured and fitted to the golfer's physical characteristics--height, weight, gender, distance from fingertip to floor, hand size, arm length, right-handedness or left-handedness--as well as age, swing speed and grip. And the firm finds the best club "frequency" for each user. The frequency is a computerized measure of the club's stiffness or flexibility.

Lestrokes has fitted more than 4,000 people with clubs, some more than once. The custom clubs are individually assembled to specifications determined during each fitting session. Most of the company's iron heads are made from investment-cast stainless steel, but forged stainless steel is also offered. The wooden heads are of highest quality laminated maple and persimmon.

Most sales are from walk-in customers and word-of-mouth advertising. Shepler calls his customers walking advertisements because the business keeps growing. But most paying customers are not famous players: Golf professionals obtain their clubs free of charge.

Lestrokes has only three employees, including Shepler, plus a network of distributors. The company services more than 50 golf courses in the tri-state area and is busy this time of year with regripping, refinishing and repairing.

To remain competitive in the marketplace, Lestrokes sells custom clubs below the price of comparable top-of-the-line clubs. A set of three woods and eight irons runs around $500. Shepler, a golf enthusiast since he was 6 and essentially a self-taught craftsman, continues to develop the goals he set for the company years ago. The next dream, opening the golf and recreation center, is about to be realized.
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Title Annotation:custom golf club manufacturer in New Haven, Indiana
Author:Faris, Charlene
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:May 1, 1993
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