Words by Carson Rich
Dude’s Clubs is a small Jacksonville golf shop that perfectly defines the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Running their business out of a storage unit on Atlantic Boulevard, they buy, trade and sell used equipment for well under retail prices. Despite being in such a small space, they continue to be one of the city’s best and most convenient shops amongst the local golf community.
Joe “Dude” LaBadia and Stacy Doyle started their business eight years ago, selling various items on ebay, just looking to get rid of them, when they chose to list a set of golf clubs. It sold faster than anything they’d ever put on the website, sparking the flame of what was soon to come. Not long after, they decided to rent the storage space they currently operate out of, and the word spread like wildfire.
The storage unit aspect is the biggest thing that sticks out to customers because it’s so small and hidden, you might miss it if you aren’t looking for it. This brought a little bit of skepticism the first time I pulled into the parking lot, as one would expect, but I was soon relieved when I was introduced to the two friendly faces behind the door.
When asked if they have ever wanted to change settings for a larger space, LaBadia said they were comfortable where they are, and it saves them money, as opposed to operating out of a more traditional retail space. Their unusual location is what sets them apart from similar shops and provides more of an intimate relationship with their customers.
LaBadia also talked about the struggles that they run into when running a business as small as theirs. “It’s difficult to get the name out. We’re reliant on social media at this point, but we’ve been expanding the network. We have a lot of customer referrals, and that’s really the best business we’re getting at this point, so we’re very thankful that our customers do help us out in that regard.”
Dude’s Clubs is very convenient because of the pricing. Major retail stores and online brands can drain your wallet buying just one or two clubs, a situation that often turns people away from getting into the sport. It also encourages others into the golf community by giving them the opportunity to try out equipment for half the price.
Most of their items come from others buying and trading equipment with customers, but they also receive shipments from big name companies with items that did not sell in their own stores. This is one of the most exciting things for people coming in because they can find some of the best golf brands like Callaway and Taylormade without spending $1,000.
“Our goal is not to make a ton of money off of every customer that walks in here,” said co-owner Stacy Doyle. “We obviously have to make a living, but at the same time [want to offer] affordable golf clubs so that people can put together a full set or complete their sets without having to pay an arm and a leg for it.”
The shop sells everything players could need including drivers, putters and iron sets, as well as golf bags, balls, tees and products to help take care of your set. Both LaBadia and Doyle love giving deals to their customers. For example, if you buy a driver from them, they will throw in a small bag of tees and a headcover with it, saving you even more money before you venture out to the course.
Dude’s Clubs is a one-of-a-kind shop in Jacksonville and a must-see for golfers of all levels.