Duke Kessling's retirement has been one workday on top of another.
After more than 20 years in the retail industry, Kessling planned to retire to Rock Hill earlier this year, leaving his Maryland golf shop in the hands of a capable manager. The only thing on his to-do list was spending time with family in the Fort Mill area and putting around his new Country Club Estates home.
But before the entrepreneur could even learn his way around town, he noticed Rock Hill's only golf equipment stores, Cherry Road's Rippit Golf and the Golf House, had both closed, leaving an opportunity he couldn't refuse.
So much for retirement.
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Kessling opened Duke's Golf II this month at 1037 Oakland Ave., formerly Legacy's Child gift and consignment shop, next to Wing King Cafe. He said the shop is the only one of its kind in Rock Hill. Sure, most area golf courses and superstores carry golf supplies, but the lack of an independently-owned retail store with supplies, apparel and a repair service is a void Kessling believes he can fill.
"I know this business, so it's very easy to get back into it," Kessling said. "It's going to be fun."
Kessling started repairing golf clubs on the side 35 years ago and eventually opened Duke's Golf Works in Annapolis, Md., in 1990. At Duke's Golf II, he stocks most major brands, including Ping, Titleist, Callaway, Taylor Made and more. His selection ranges from clubs and bags (complete with Clemson Tigers and Carolina Gamecocks logos) to a plethora of accessories and apparel. He also repairs clubs and sells and trades used equipment. The small shop has a putting room, and plans are on the table to erect a net for testing clubs outside.
"This is perfect," Kessling said about his location near Winthrop University, between Cherry Road and Ebenezer Avenue. "Being next to Wing King is great because they draw lots of business, and then on Ebenezer you've got doctors and lawyers and real estate offices, so that's a lot of traffic."
Kessling said business has started slowly. But that's expected considering his shop is new, a drought has taken its toll on golf courses and golfers usually dwindle at the end of summer and pick up in early spring, he said. He expects word of mouth at area courses and some advertising will get things rolling by next year.
Cool weather = better golf
At the nearby 9-hole Winthrop University golf course, course attendant Donat Mallette said he thinks Duke's Golf II will be successful. Mallette noted Winthrop sells golf balls at the course clubhouse, but said most golfers likely will be attracted to Kessling's name-brand selection, trade-in and used policies and repair services.
Mallette said he expects golf business in general to pick up as temperatures cool for autumn.
"It's been 90, 90, 90 every day for so long," he quipped. "It's nice to finally have temperatures below normal."
Reinventing Winthrop area
Duke's Golf II joins a list of new additions to the Winthrop area as new shops and restaurants have reinvented older storefronts.
Kessling's store fills the void left when Legacy's Child moved to Herlong Avenue last year, and next-door neighbor Wing King moved from a small cafe on Ebenezer Road to the old Tam's Tavern, which closed its doors last year.
Only a block away, Michael's Rock Hill Grille, once located on Albright Road, is scheduled to open soon on Charlotte Avenue in the former Durango Bagel building. Durango plans to open at Millwood Plantation this fall. And on Cherry Road this summer, Taco Bueno remodeled what was once a Church's Chicken, and Cupps coffee shop reinvented an old florist shop.
AT A GLANCE
• What: Duke's Golf II
• When: Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays; closed Sundays (except during special seasons).
• Where: 1037 Oakland Ave.
• Phone: 327-2005
• Opened: Oct. 1
• Owner: Duke Kessling
• Details: Full line of golf balls, clubs, accessories, shoes and apparel; club repair; buy-sell-trade used clubs