Love Golf? Downtown St. Pete is layered with fun things to do that satisfy us all. Whether you are a foodie, yogi, dive-bar lover or art enthusiast there is a plethora of choices for you. The popular staple places are a no-brainer, but there are also hidden gems that make the area particularly special. For example, if you are an avid golfer, there is a nationally recognized golf club fitter in town for all of your needs. Bob VanSweden Golf Repair Center, located at 2300 26th Street North, provides 5-star service to the pros and will treat you just the same.
A true St. Petersburg, Florida native (he was born and raised here and actually went to high school with Michael Novilla, owner of unique wedding and event venue NOVA 535 and DowntownStPete.com!), Bob VanSweden has a story that rocks. Before he was the go-to golf guru, VanSweden travelled the globe for over a decade seeing six continents before the age of thirty. He worked with some of the biggest rock stars in the world, such as Bryan Adams and Def Leppard, as a road manager and tour security. Eventually he got burned out living such a hectic lifestyle and only being home in the Sunshine City one or two months out of the year. (However, when he was home, guess what he started to pick up as a hobby? Golfing of course!)
In the 90s, Bob got his heart stolen by a gal he went to high school with, Alison. He truly fell in love for the first time and decided it was time to come home to St. Pete to settle down (and now isn’t shy when talking about how amazing his wife Alison and son Carson, 11, is!). Bob snagged a job at a local golf shop, and then in 1994 his golf-fitting career teed-off when he opened his own location.
“I never really thought to do this for a living, but I fell into it and really liked it!” VanSweden said as he told me his story on a sunny day in his inviting shop. He attended club-fitting schools in the beginning of his career and still now studies and does research on technique. Bob spends a great deal of time on the PGA tour throughout the year where he constantly is evaluating and learning how other reps are best fitting professional players.
Bob VanSweden fits all of the top brands and has worked as a consultant for KBS Golf Shafts, TaylorMade and Adidas Golf. His incredible talent of fitting clubs has presented him with twelve national awards in his twenty-four year career. He is also the only person to receive the National Club Fitter of the year award twice! (Who knew we had such a prestigious golf-fitter right around the corner?!)
Contributing his success to his honesty, whether it puts money in his pocket or not, is something he prides himself in. If a client’s swing is a bit off the day they come in for a fitting, he will recommend rescheduling the appointment after some lessons in order to get a more accurate reading.
His honesty and passion for his trade definitely shows as golfers from all over the state travel to Downtown St. Pete to get fitted by Bob VanSweden. John Daly, professional golfer on the PGA tour, recently stopped in for an appointment at the Golf Repair Center to fit his irons for the tour. If someone like John Daly trusts his equipment in the hands of Bob, then you should too!
“I’m proud of this and being here in my hometown with my business. We’re trying to make a difference in golfers and helping people become better players.” VanSweden stated.
Bob VanSweden is also honored to be a part of First Tee of St. Petersburg, which is “the leading youth development program in the area that uses golf as a vehicle to help teach life skills.” Many of his clients donate their used equipment for the children enrolled in the program to enjoy. These kids then get fitted just like the pros, which is exciting for them, but also helps their game. Bob assisted the organization in receiving a $15,000 donation of clothing from Adidas to hand out to the kids in the programs. First Tee teaches them core values, but the children also have the opportunity to receive scholarships for college.
There is no doubt that Bob VanSweden is a unique personality who helps make Downtown St. Pete exceptional. To find out about more 5-star places to go (like Bob VanSweden Golf Repair Center) and great things to do in DTSP, create your profile on DowntownStPete.com. If you make an appointment with Bob, post a photo of your perfectly fitted golf clubs onto Downtown Now. We are excited for you to become a part of our community!