DeMane Golf's Cherished Legacy

Rick and Rene DeMane

Rick and Rene DeMane

DeMage Golf’s remaining legacy lives on with Rick and Rene DeMane.

Rick came back into the world of golf craftsmanship during a time when the field go golf was experiencing rapid changes in technology. Graphite shafts, frequency matching, were a world apart from the hickory shafts of his grandfather, Nick’s, time.

Ultra precision wood making equipment allowed the manufacture of the highest quality oil hardened persimmon woods, and that attention to detail and dedication to quality continues with the current modern golf equipment today.

With this emerging technology, lengths and accuracies—never dreamed of—are now possible. 

The values that have identified the DeMane name have not diminished with Rick and Rene. You still get the gentle, individualized, never-rushed, fair treatment in discovering your golfing needs.

Rick and Rene maintain that the tradition of realizing that technology makes a difference in golf, but knowledge makes it work. They have perpetuated their proud family heritage and legacy of the “golden hands,” and have added their “golden hearts” in the process.

Rick has been in the golf club business for the past 43 years and carries on the family commitment to quality that was instilled by his father Jack, and his mother 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.

Dean of American Golf Professionals

Nick’s brother-in-law, John Inglis, had a connection with golf that began before the turn of the 20th century. It was 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 the head golf 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 golf professional for the next 51 years. He is prouder of his service to the game, and the PGA of America, than for 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 PGA 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 J.R.’s tutelage. It is easy to see why so many admirers have given John Inglis the appellation: “Dean of American Golf Professionals.”

DeMane Golf Business Takes Root

It was when persimmon was king that 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 mont- 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 oversized 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 DeMane Golf Shop. business. 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.

Mid-Century: Hands of Gold

Nick’s son, Jack and his brother Dick, literally grew up on a golf course. Jack 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 his brother Dick.

It was during this time that Jack 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) at 35 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, who appeared in the December 1964 issue of Golf Digest in a major article entitled, “Make Your Clubs Look Like New.”

The article 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 was indicative of how far Jack had come toward 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.”

The Player: Dick "Archie" DeMane

Dick DeMane

Nick’s son, Dick was born in Rye, New York. A graduate of Port Chester High School, (where he was an outstanding golfer), Dick 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 who started playing when he was nine years old.

Dick turned pro in 1947, and 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 Port Chester.

In 1959 Dick DeMane became the head golf 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. He was successful in doing just that, achieving his goals 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); and the 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, while half the time capturing the medallist’s title as well. Dick also broke the scoring record at his home golf course, the Engineers Country 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,” he said. People could relate to him because he was transparent and honest.

At the 60th USGA Open, held at the Cherry Hills Country Club, he assessed his chances of winning on the PGA 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, and had no other thoughts of doing anything else. He was at Engineers Country Club for 33 years. After retiring, he moved to Florida full time, and kept busy playing in super seniors events.

Early 1900s: Nick DeMane

A plaque from Nick DeMane’s days in manufacturing in New York City.

A plaque from Nick DeMane’s days in manufacturing in New York City.

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, then moved on to Soundview Country Club in Great Neck, New York, where he taught golf to many celebrities, including: W. C. Fields, Ernest Hemingway, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. They also became his playing partners. As a tribute to Nick, F. Scott “Scotty” Fitzgerald used Nick DeMane (spelled Demain) as one of his characters in the novel “The Great Gatsby”.

Rick’s grandfather, Nick, was also in charge of a golf factory, in 1905, called the Harry C. Lee Company, in New York City. There he made hickory shafted woods and irons. Nick, and J.R. Inglis, his brother-in-law, played in the 1913 US Open. Nick happened to have been the first one to tee off at the event.

Nick was later appointed as head professional at Blind Brook Country Club in Purchase, New York, where he stayed until retiring in 1957. He was the last PGA professional, at Blind Brook, and as of 2013, still is.  

Nick’s brother, Art, followed him by working as a golf professional at the Huntington Country Club, and Soundview Country Club, then on to Oak Park Country Club, in Illinois.

Nick’s two sons, Dick and Jack, also carried on the golf tradition by running Nick DeMane’s Golf Range in Port Chester, New York. 

It was here that Jack began repairing and redesigning golf 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 further learned the trade while working at the shop at 35 Chapel Street in Greenwich, Connecticut, after the range was sold.

History & Heritage Overview

Rick and Rene DeMane in their golf shop at 35 Chapel Street in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Rick and Rene DeMane in their golf shop at 35 Chapel Street in Greenwich, Connecticut.

DeMane Golf is a family business that was founded in Rye, New York in the late 1930’s. The family’s rich golfing history and heritage, however, dates back over 100 years to the turn of the 20th century. In 1958 the business relocated to where it is now, at 35 Chapel Street, Greenwich, Connecticut.

The business legacy is carried on by Rick and his wife, Rene (pronounced Ree’nee). Rick represents the third generation of the DeMane’s in the golf business. He was introduced to the game at his grandfather, Nick’s, golf driving range in Port Chester, along with his brother Bob.

Rick and Bob helped pick up golf balls at the range and they both worked in the old pro shop. Bob was instrumental in assisting with the design and manufacturing of some of the unique equipment used in the shop, and still continues to be involved in a variety of technical aspects of the business to this very day.

Rick met Rene attended college on the isle of Maui in Hawaii. They both later transferred to the University of Hawaii, Manoa, on Oahu, and were later married in a Park on Mount Tantalus, Honolulu, Hawaii.

After graduating from the University of Hawaii, on Oahu, Rick and Rene moved back to 35 Chapel Street in Greenwich, Connecticut, and eventually took over operating DeMane Golf.