Randy Doucette of Auburn holding a golf club he just fitted on Friday at his workshop at the Marriott Golf Academy in Orlando, Florida.

Randy Doucette is bringing his club-building expertise home.

The Auburn native is planning on coming back to the Lewiston/Auburn area next spring after spending the past 20 years working at the Marriott Golf Academy in Orlando, Florida, where he’s worked as their master club fitter, crafting clubs for amateurs, celebrities and PGA Tour pros.

He wants to return to Maine, he said, because Orlando is getting too crowded, and he misses the Maine scenery — and the people.

He also knows there’s an untapped clientele for his trade in the Pine Tree State, and he’s planning on building a workshop of his own.

“I know some of the guys are driving down to Scarborough, to Golf and Ski,” Doucette said. “Their process is nothing like I do. It’s nothing remotely close. I build golf clubs within an eighth of an inch. If it’s an eighth of an inch off, Nick Faldo doesn’t want it. Because of the finite attention to detail, this is beyond what any stores do.”

Most stores that offer club fitting have a quarter-inch tolerance above and below the intended target, Doucette said.

Golf Digest has named Doucette one of the top 100 club fitters, and he has made several appearances on the Golf Channel.

Doucette uses an analogy to his first love — hockey — on why it’s important for anybody to get their clubs custom-fitted.

“Go out on the ice with the wrong-sized skates on your feet and then try to figure out how to skate properly with the wrong skates,” Doucette said. “It’s not going to go well.

“With golf it’s the same thing. You know what people do? They buy golf clubs and have no idea what they are or what the specs of them are. They stand on the driving range and hit balls until they figure out on how to make them work. That’s not efficient. You will adjust and make compensations to make a club work. With a fitted set of golf clubs, you don’t have to do that, there’s not as many compensations involved.”

‘The next Bob Darling?’

Doucette grew up on South Main St. in Auburn, near Prospect Hill Golf Course, and took up the game when his neighbor, Jeff Gillespie, would play nine holes after work. Gillespie also built and repaired golf clubs in his basement.

After tagging along with Gillespie, he fell in love with the game and started to work at Prospect and Martindale while in high school. Darling saw his work ethic early on.

“Bob took me under his wing as he saw I had an interest in golf and I had a lot of fun, I enjoyed it,” Doucette said. “Bob became like a second dad to me. He would pick me up in the morning and drop me off after work. I would spend the whole day at Martindale and I got to know all the members real well. I worked picking the range, cleaning clubs, cleaning the carts and putting them away, all what the outside staff do.”

The idea of being a golf pro in Maine during the summer and going down to Florida in the winter intrigued him.

After graduating from Edward Little High School in 1992, and with Darling pointing him in that direction, he started looking at PGA Management schools. After sorting through some programs at Florida State, Arizona State and Ferris State, he decided to attend Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Into club fitting

While at Methodist University, Doucette and other students drove down to Wilmington, North Carolina, to visit Drew Pierson, who played briefly on the PGA Tour from 1974-77. Pierson is now a PGA Master Professional with 50-plus years in the PGA of America fitting clubs.

Doucette decided to get his clubs fitted his sophomore year of college.

“The students at Methodist University on the weekends would jump in a car, three or four at a time and go see Drew,” Doucette said. “So when I went down, usually I was the driver and toting around everybody else. There were three of us who went down to Drew’s shop at the Landfall Club in Wilmington, North Carolina, I was like, ‘This is really cool, look at these machines and equipment. He’s doing some really cool stuff, this is neat.'”

Pierson took him under his wing and Doucette made the 90-minute drive on weekends to learn from him. Methodist University had basic club fitting and repair classes, but Pierson’s lessons were far more in depth. He brought along kids who wanted to get their clubs fitted, just so he could learn from Pierson.

After learning from his mentor, he thought, “Why can’t I fit clubs on campus?” Doucette took his idea to the administration to get a work study credit. He wanted to help out kids who couldn’t afford the drive down to Pierson.

“The director of the program said, ‘We have a bunch of club repair equipment, old equipment stuck in a closet in the PGM building. You are more than welcome to it.’ I ended up building a workshop on campus for club repair and club fitting,” Doucette said. “I went to the president of the college, Doctor Hendricks, and said, ‘I think this is a viable work study job.’ He said, ‘Well, I want you to put together a job description, a budget and a performer on what you would need to do it.’ So, I literally worked my junior and senior years through college building and fitting golf clubs.”

Working his way up

During his senior year at Methodist, Doucette visited Pierson and walked into an opportunity in the club fitting industry.

Brunswick Golf was in a pinch: A technician quit on their tour van that travels the PGA Tour in case players need to have clubs fixed.

“I just happened to be walking through Mr. Pierson’s door when he was on the phone with Kim Braly (of Brunswick Golf),” Doucette said. “He goes, ‘Oh my God, I have the perfect person.’ My senior year I ended up working on the Tour. Back then it was called Brunswick Golf … the Brunswick corporation owned the Rifle Shaft brand back in the 80s and 90s.”

He worked four events on the PGA Tour in 1996. That’s where he ended up meeting Nick Faldo, the three-time Masters and three-time Open Championship winner. Faldo is now an analyst with CBS Sports and the Golf Channel while competing in select PGA Champions Tour events during the year. The two have sparked a friendship. 

He has also built clubs for Ernie Els and LPGA star Se Ri Pak.

A week prior to accepting the Brunswick Golf position, Pierson had another opportunity in Orlando that Doucette was mulling over. He asked Pierson if that position was still available.

“Literally, I went down to Orlando during a dinner interview and they offered me the job,” Doucette said. “I started working April 12, 1997 at Marriott Vista and I’ve been there ever since.”

Orlando was a perfect spot for Doucette to meet pro golfers, making it easier for Doucette to make connections and meet new clients.

“We would be on the phone for 12 hours if I told you all the stories I’ve got,” Doucette said. “Of the people I’ve met and experiences I have had with Tour players I have worked with — the drummer of Iron Maiden, Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake. The list goes on and on, because where I was at and what I do, it brought these people to me.”

Now, Doucette’s bringing his love of the game — and golf clubs — back to Maine.

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Randy Doucette of Auburn working on a golf club on Friday at his workshop at the Marriott Golf Academy in Orlando, Florida.

Randy Doucette of Auburn working on a golf club on Friday at his workshop at the Marriott Golf Academy in Orlando, Florida.