Small Business

At Ingleside’s Dogleg, A Lost Art of Golfing Flourishes

Floyd Glenn is San Francisco’s premiere golf club craftsman. He has operated Dogleg in Ingleside since 1990 after retiring from teaching. Photograph by David Horowitz/Ingleside-Excelsior Light

Ingleside’s golf club shop Dogleg boasts a persistence rarely seen in San Francisco’s ever-changing business landscape.

Since 1990, shop owner Floyd Glenn, 85, has brought the refined craftsmanship and consistency that only a veteran in his field could offer to San Francisco’s golf enthusiasts. His dogged work ethic makes Dogleg stand out in an age and a nation notorious for outsourcing labor and spending on advertising.

He learned his trade from some of golf club industry’s brightest minds in 1985 when he became friends with Carl Paul, the co-founder of the previously successful retailer Golfsmith, once worth $328 million. Glenn helped Paul run Golfsmith for five years and when Glenn wanted to know something, Paul would have his employees teach him about it.

Dogleg is the only place remaining in San Francisco where people can have golf clubs made, repaired, re-gripped and re-shafted on the spot. Glenn said there used to be three other stores in San Francisco that offered the same services, but now they are closed.

“He is just one of the best — or the best,” said Malcolm Thompson, a 30-year golfer and an employee at TPC Harding Park. “If you played golf, you knew about him.”

Glenn’s early childhood made him appreciate the independence farming provided. When he was 12, he already knew he wanted to be a farmer, a lawyer or a teacher because each job could afford him autonomy.

“’Son, work hard,’” he said his mother had told him. “Do your job better than anybody so your boss can’t even fire you. However, don’t kiss ass. Because kissing ass, you have two jobs.”

As a father of 10, he worked two jobs anyway.

In the 1940s, Glenn got into the sport after taking a job as a caddy when he was 15 years old. That was the only way a Black person could play the game, and Glenn would play the course after hours.

He collected, refurbished and repaired clubs while teaching history, geography and civics at schools in San Francisco for 31 years. He taught students during the day and worked as a director at San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department at night.

He retired from teaching in 1990 and opened Dogleg two months later.

Business, however, stopped being lucrative when bigger golf club manufacturers learned that specialists like Glenn customized clubs for specific players’ heights, weights, swing speeds and other factors.

“They said, ‘Guess what? We can take your idea, incorporate it into what we do and we can advertise your ass off the map,’” Glenn said. And they did.
These days, he rarely makes golf clubs, instead selling the labor-intensive handiwork bigger corporations don’t provide in their stores. As Glenn put it, bigger club manufacturers would rather have employees sell sets of clubs for $300 than re-grip clubs for $8.

“If this was how I made a living, I would be homeless,” Glenn said. Yet, the Texas native has lived in the neighborhood for about 60 years.

Dogleg holds more than a thousand golf clubs, and over a thousand books line and pile up on the bookshelves. When business is slow, Glenn can usually be found sitting near the store entrance to read and to listen to jazz playing from his favorite CDs and cassettes behind the front counter.

Located on Ashton Avenue just off of Ocean Avenue, Dogleg is named after a curve in a fairway in golf. Glenn moved it a few buildings down from Ocean Avenue around 15 years ago, and he plans to move again next door to downsize in the next month.

Glenn plays once a week, sometimes with his two assistants — retired Muni driver Garland Gilbert, 72, and former firefighter Steve Rodriguez, 49.

Glenn taught them most of what they know about golf clubs, and the two stop by Dogleg a few hours every week to help Glenn and to spend time with him.

“He’s been a mentor, he’s been a teacher and he taught me a skill that I really enjoy learning. And I would almost say he basically held my hand through the whole process,” Garland said.

In addition to teaching for 31 years and having 10 children, Glenn has 24 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. That said, he has no immediate plans to close Dogleg.

Dogleg is located at 387 Ashton Ave. For more information, call (415) 334-1116.

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