DeMane Golf History
DeMane Golf is a family business which originated in the late 1930’s in Rye, NY. In 1958 the business relocated to its current location on Chapel Street, Greenwich, CT where it is currently run by Rick DeMane and his wife, Rene.
The following pages provide background on the DeMane family tree that boasts a connection with golf throughout the last century.
Nick, the patriarch of the family, was born in 1887, and at the age of 18 was already working in the golf trade at the Apawamis Country Club in Rye, New York. There he met Gene Sarazen and Tony Manero, two U.S. Open golf champions. Originally a squash instructor, he became an assistant golf professional. From the Apawamis Country Club he became head professional at the Hommocks Golf Club, and Soundview Country Club in Great Neck, New York, where he taught golf to many celebrities, among them; W. C. Fields, Ernest Hemingway, Dwight Eisenhower, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. They also became his playing partners. As a tribute to Nick, “Scotty” has Nick DeMane (spelled Demain) as one of his characters in the novel “The Great Gatsby.”
Rick’s grandfather, Nick, was in charge of a golf factory in 1905, the Harry C. Lee Company in New York City, where he made his hickory shafted woods and irons. Nick and J.R. Inglis, his brother in law played in the 1913 US Open, Nick happens to be the first one to tee of at the event. Nick is later appointed head professional at Blind Brook Country Club in Purchase, New York where he stayed until retirement in 1957. He was the last PGA professional at Blind Brook and as of 2013, still is. His two sons, Dick and Jack carried on the golf tradition by running Nick DeMane’s Golf Range in Port Chester, New York.
This is where Jack began repairing and redesigning clubs. He new how to improve the clubs performance and his hands on approach made it happen. It is also at the range where the third generation of DeManes, Jack’s sons, Bob and Rick were introduced to golf. They learned the trade by working at the shop on Chapel Street in Greenwich, Connecticut after the range was sold.
Nick’s brother, Art, followed him as a golf professional at Huntington Country club and Soundview, then to Oak Park CC in Illinois
Nick’s son, Dick was born in Rye, New York. A graduate of Port Chester High School, (where he was an outstanding golfer), he attended Rutgers University and was a lifetime member of the Professional Golfers Association and the nephew of two PGA professionals, Art DeMane and John Inglis. His father, Nick DeMane was the head golf professional at Soundview Golf Club, the Hommocks Golf Club and Blind Brook Club, and was responsible for the early training of his son. Dick started playing when he was 9 years old. He turned pro in 1947. Dick served as assistant to Jim Turnesa of Briar Hall and Jerry Desio of Harrison Country Club before opening his own golf school at Nick’s driving range. In 1959 Dick DeMane became head professional at Engineers Country Club (where the PGA Championship and National Amateur were held).
His ambition was to try to qualify and play in two national tournaments a year, the U.S. Open and PGA Tourney. And he was successful in doing just that, five times for each one! “Sandy,” as he was called was a superb golfer. Only five feet seven in stature (most of time he came only shoulder high to his competitors), this diminutive professional, described as “a little fellow with an artful swing,” would let his golfing ability level the playing field.
He won a host of golf tournaments in the metropolitan New York area including, the State PGA Seniors Championship twice, Metropolitan PGA Seniors Three Ring PGA Intersectional Matches (as a team). This little “tiger”, as the gallery dubbed him, also won close to a dozen Long Island PGA sponsored tournaments in which half the time he captured the medallist’s title. Dick also broke the scoring record at the Engineers Country Club, his home club.
Dick DeMane was also a fine teacher. “I teach all kinds of golfers, champs and beginners. I do not teach them anything other pros don’t, but I guess I get to them quicker. They understand me.” People related to him because he was transparently honest.
At the 60th USGA Open held at the Cherry Hills Country Club he assessed his chances of winning on the tour. “I’ve got a wife and two children to provide for. On the tour there are winners, but you can also wind up with peanuts.” In the DeMane tradition, he was a family man first and then a golfer. Nicknamed, “Archie.” Dick loved being a golf professional, had no other thoughts of doing anything else. Dick was at Engineers Country Club for 33 years. After retirement, he moved to Florida full time, and kept busy in the super seniors events.
Nick’s son Jack and his brother Dick literally grew up on a golf course. He played the game and was on the high school golf team. When his father Nicholas, opened Nick DeMane’s Driving Range in Port Chester, New York, Jack operated and managed it with Dick.
He started experimenting with clubs. First repairing and modifying the range clubs, then repairing and redesigning clubs for friends and customers at the range. In 1947, Wilson Sporting Goods needed a company to provide all warranty and other required work in the area, and Jack signed on. It was around this time Jack finished setting up the shop (phase one) on Chapel Street and began spending more time there. In 1959, the Ben Hogan Company asked Jack to do the same. Jack’s refinish and woodwork was without peer. Nobody could restore a beat up MacGregor classic like Jack. Jack was in the December 1964 issue of Golf Digest in a major article entitled, “Make Your Clubs Look Like New.” It featured Jack taking its golf readers step by step through the process of refinishing a wood (three pages with pictures) and how to replace a golf grip. The article refers to “Jack DeMane as a club repair expert from Greenwich, Connecticut.” To be featured in a premier national golf magazine is an indication of how far Jack had come in becoming a master artisan in his field. He certainly lived up to the inscription on his 32nd year business letterhead, “Jack DeMane, Hands of Gold, Golf Club Service.”
Business Takes Root
When persimmon was king, Jack and his son Rick designed and made some of the finest woods available. Using ‘A’ grade persimmon turnings with horseshoe and straight back grain, a month long vacuum impregnation process was used to harden and stabilize the woods. Precision facing, routing, boring and scoring machines were used in the process. Many models were available from one through seven woods. Head shapes ranged from the classic pear shaped 50’s look to oversize drivers. The latter models were made with filament wound graphite shafts and woven graphite inserts. Jack built a business in a backyard that spans the country and now crosses the seas.
Jack and Judy raised five children, and ran the golf shop. When the children attended school, Jack closed the shop every summer for the family vacation, during the peak of the golf season. First in a station wagon, and later in Jack’s recreational vehicles, eventually exploring every state in the country. In later years, Jack and Judy explored the rest of the world together.
Nick’s brother-in-law, John Inglis’ connection with golf began before the turn of the century. At the old Apawamis nine-hole links in Rye, New York, where a member stuck a golf club in his caddie’s hand and told him to hang on to it. For the next 60 years he did that as a total professional—teacher, golf course architect and club maker.
At age 19 he took over his first job as a head professional at Larchmont Golf Club in Westchester County, New York. In 1908, Inglis switched from Larchmont to Fairview Country Club, where he served as its head professional for the next 51 years. He is prouder of his service to the game and the PGA of America than his playing ability even though he once beat U.S. Amateur champion (1904) Walter Travis, 4 and 3, in an exhibition match.
John served as president of the Metropolitan Section of the PGA for 31 years, from 1928 to 1959, longer than any other Sectional officeholder. He was twice elected National vice-president of the PGA of America. Inglis had as much to do with the organization of the PGA of America in 1916 as any other individual. He also had a hand in the initial concept of a Senior tour.
The members of Fairview Country Club wished to show their appreciation to their beloved head professional, John Inglis. A golf gala was held at the club. The guest list included over 360 people (53 of which were invited golf pros playing in an invitational tournament).
On hand to help celebrate were some of J.R’s (as he was affectionately called) talented pupils. A roster that included former Open Champions Tony Manero and Johnny Farrell and five of the seven Turnesa brothers.
They all learned their golf from J.R. as caddie, caddie master, assistant pro, and head pro.
Also playing that day was Claude Harmon, (Masters Champion), Western Open Titleist Herman Barron, and former PGA champ Jim Turnesa. In addition to helping the professionals, some 8000 men and women started golf under his tutelage. It is easy to see why so many admirers have given John Inglis the appellation; “Dean of American Golf Professionals.”
The business legacy is now being carried on by Rick and his wife, Rene (pronounced Ree’nee). Rick represents the third generation of DeMane’s in the golf business.
He was introduced to golf at his grandfather Nick’s range in Port Chester, along with his brother Bob. They helped pick up golf balls at the range and they both worked in the shop, now on Chapel Street in Greenwich, Connecticut. Bob has been instrumental in assisting with the design and manufacturing of some of the unique equipment used in the shop. He continues in some technical aspects of the business.
Rick met Rene attending college on Maui. They both transferred to the University of Hawaii, Manoa, on Oahu. They were married in a Park on Mount Tantalus, Honolulu, Hawaii. After graduation from the University of Hawaii and living on Oahu, Rick and Rene moved back to Greenwich, Connecticut.
Rick came back into the world of golf craftsmanship during the time this field experienced rapid changes in technology. Graphite shafts, frequency matching, are a world apart from the hickory shafts of Nick’s time. Ultra precision wood making equipment allowed the manufacture of the highest quality oil hardened persimmon woods. The same dedication to quality continues with the current equipment. With this technology, accuracies never dreamed of were possible.
The values that have identified the DeMane name have not diminished with this couple. You get the gentle, individualized, never rushed, treatment in discovering your golfing needs. Rick and Rene have kept the tradition of realizing that technology makes a difference in golf, but knowledge makes it work. They have perpetuated the family tradition of the “golden hands,” and have added their “golden hearts” in the process. Rick has been in the golf club business for the past thirty eight years and carries on the family commitment to quality that was instilled by Jack, and his wife Judy who worked with him. “Our company has a history of doing it right.” Everyone is treated professionally at DeMane Golf. The great leveler is simply the love of the game.