Former golf pro Emil Weser beams with pride as he shows off his favorite set of clubs in his Scottsdale shop.
The sometimes recalcitrant 82-year-old sheds his curmudgeonly side as he cradles three metal clubs made by the Pedersen Golf Club Co. in 1927.
With a wink to his interviewer, Weser shooed away a customer in the 33-year-old store he admits is near closing due to lack of business. Weser preferred talking about those beloved Pedersens to making a sale.
“Our forefathers when this country began were creative and had common sense,” Weser said. “Everything had to be right. That can be applied to these clubs. It’s the only set I’ve seen that has a sole plate and insert in the head. For some reason, none of the bigger manufacturers like Spalding and McGregor did this. Why, these clubs could be used today.”
Weser, at 6-foot-9 the tallest man ever to play on the Professional Golf Association Tour, began his career in Chicago. He started as a caddy at age 10 and learned the game from some seasoned professionals. He lives in Fountain Hills but loves spending time in his store.
Among myriad golf items scattered throughout the crowded Weser’s Golf Shop in the Paradise Valley Plaza on Scottsdale Road near Shea Boulevard are those Pedersens — his favorite driver, brassie (2 wood) and spoon (3 wood).
Weser said smaller heads such as those on the Pedersen clubs are better for players. Club manufacturers went to persimmon wood shortly after, when Weser began playing, but used large metal heads when golf gained popularity with players such as Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer during the 1950s and 1960s. Weser said there weren’t enough persimmon trees to supply manufacturers’ needs.
“The bigger the head, the harder it is to control,” Weser said. “Metal heads are supposed to send the ball out farther, but they don’t always. Today’s heads create too much torque. The only drawback with metal like these is you can’t fade (hit a golf ball to the right) or draw (hit it to the right) properly.”
Weser said his Pedersen clubs are one of the finest sets of metals one can find. He said golf’s forefathers had a good idea and put out a sound product. Now, he’s ready to part with his favorite set if a collector or player shows interest in them.
“I don’t know what they’re worth, but I’d sell ’em,” he said. “They’re good. They were way before their time.”
Pedersen clubs on eBay, one of Weser’s least favorite topics, go from a $99 buyit-now price for a brassie to $500 for the tree-club set. Weser thinks that’s low.
Besides competition from large golf stores, Weser has lymphoma cancer, which is in remission. A staph infection in his left leg makes it tough to get around, but he does so with the aid of a walker.
Weser has always been outspoken. In 1976, he challenged the PGA, the sport’s governing body. That year, he was denied entry in the Western Open in suburban Chicago. Despite its “open” status, only PGA Tour players were permitted to participate. That angered Weser, who earned his tour card but wouldn’t join the PGA.
He sued for $750,000. The PGA settled out of court, paying Weser’s legal fees and agreeing to hold miniqualifiers on the Mondays preceding open tournaments.
Weser still comes to his shop regularly and loves to tell the tale of the Pedersens. “I meet wonderful people,” he said. “Golf and clubs like this are my life.”