Custom-made in Carolina

Published 8:26 pm Saturday, July 20, 2013

By Frank Roberts


HOBBSVILLE, N.C. — No Mundie on Monday.


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He is probably on a golf course in Virginia or North Carolina, taking powerful swings with his own clubs — literally his own.

Keith Mundie makes custom golf clubs at his shop in North Carolina. He disdains what he calls “store-bought” clubs and says many of his customers hit farther with his creations.

Keith Mundie makes custom golf clubs at his shop in North Carolina. He disdains what he calls “store-bought” clubs and says many of his customers hit farther with his creations.

Keith Mundie makes and repairs golf clubs, and he just about promises they will bring you more success than what he sneeringly calls “store-bought clubs.”

“You can hit further with mine,” he proudly proclaims. He disdains the poor golfer who buys from stores or web sites.

“One man hit 40 yards farther with one of my clubs, but he still wouldn’t buy mine. They just have to have those brand names. That,” he sneered, “is the mentality of the golfer.”

Those golfers with higher mentalities buy one or a set of his custom-made, and usually less-expensive, clubs.

“My clubs are forged on cast steel. What we build, you can’t buy in a store,” Mundie said. “We buy parts from different companies and put them together like people want them. Different sizes for any person. We measure their hands. You can’t do that when you buy off the shelf.”

The Great Bridge native, who lives in Gates County, has been in business two years, turning a hobby into a fun way to make a living.

“I enjoy golf,” he said. “I wound up buying the shop.”

The shop is located across the street from the other Mundie enterprise, his wild antiques store. He lives up the road in a 1737 house but is planning to build a home next door to his golf and antiques businesses, which features indoor and outdoor driving ranges.

Obviously, he loves the game, but he realizes it is not everyone’s cup of tea.

“Some people don’t play the game because they can’t take the pressure,” he said. “I’ve seen people slam their clubs around. I’ve seen golfers throw clubs up in trees, in lakes — even beat up on their cars. If I get mad, I throw somebody else’s club.”

“It’s just a sport. Golf is not about strength, it’s about rhythm,” he said. “Anyone can play if they just listen.”

His next vacation will cover both businesses. The family — wife Olivia and daughters Amy and Kimberly — are going on a golfing vacation, traveling to Maine to buy antiques, while hitting almost every course along the way. No one else in the family plays.

Sometimes, Mundie plays for money, but not the way most folks do it.

“If I play a game for a 25-cent prize, I WILL collect the money — then take the guy out for a steak dinner.”

His generosity is expressed in another way, via donations to schools in his area, and in Virginia.

“We give away clubs for kids to play,” he said. “We help a lot of kids,” including with lessons.

The Mundie handicap is 14. “I’m not that good,” he said. “But I have fun.”

His money-making hobby does a good amount of repeat business.

“We sell one club or a complete set, and we do all the repairs,” he said. “My business is strictly word of mouth. Friends tell friends, and their friends tell their friends.”

All of that work is in the capable hands of Bob Cameron, who has the perfect set-up for a childless, never-wed bachelor. He lives in a room in the building where he works. It is a good-sized room, complete with bathroom, kitchen, large living area and large TV.

Mundie’s main man is a Maine man. They were introduced by a mutual friend. Cameron was griping about his state’s weather, eventually moving down to live the simple, uncomplicated life surrounded by the clubs he creates.

“There is another store in Virginia Beach,” he said, “but we’re a dying breed. People want what they see on TV, but custom-made clubs are better.”

Love of golf is not a family affair. “My dad once told me that golf was a stupid game. You hit a ball, take it out of a hole, then hit it again.”

Wisely, he did not argue with his father, who was Suffolk’s first police chief. He was chief in Nansemond County, holding that position after the county-Suffolk merger and serving from 1970 to 1979.

When asked about the pros, Mundie says, “I don’t like Tiger Woods, but he’s the best player in the world.”

Is Mr. Mundie one of the best? Definitely, but he has one regret. “I never made a hole in one.”