Stan Steuter left the farm near West Point, Neb., as a 14-year-old in 1966. He went 55 miles south to Elkhorn, another small Nebraska town, to enter a Benedictine seminary called Mount Michael.
This was the start of the process for Stan to discover if he had the vocation to become a priest in the Holy Roman Church.
Steuter followed high school at Mount Michael by entering the St. John Vianney Seminary at St. Thomas. Stan went through the four years, received his college degree, and then decided not to go onward in the priestly quest.
Steuter was 22 and the seminary wanted to help ease him into a secular future. A priest recommended him for employment to Norb Anderson and Dennis Hunt, the owners of the Fairgrounds Driving Range.
"I was given a part-time job and enrolled in graduate school for education at the university [of Minnesota]," Steuter said. "I wanted to be a teacher.
"At the golf shop, I became the repair person by default. Growing up on a farm, I was good with tools. I could look at things and know how to put them back together."
The Fairgrounds shop was the precursor to the chain of Bullseye golf stores that sprung up. Anderson and Hunt made Steuter a full-time employee.
A Bullseye opened in Des Moines in 1976 and Stan moved there — with his wife, Julie, and baby Brian — and ran the operation. Bullseye was a trailblazer in the golf-store business and became a bustling alternative to pro shops.
Steuter would tutor employees on helping with the basics of gripping and fitting, but he remained the primary fixer.
And then he became the Doctor.
Arnold Chester, the long-serving golf pro at Edina Country Club, had opened a golf repair shop in south Minneapolis in 1967. Bill Huney purchased the business and named it the Golf Club Hospital in 1972. It was then (and now) located at 43rd and Bryant.
Steuter became hooked on the craft of fixing and improving golf clubs. Stan made Huney aware that, if and when Bill wanted to sell, he would buy.
That happened in 1982. Steuter has been running the hospital for sick clubs ever since, with a counter in a smallish front room and a large and wonderful workshop in the back.
There's a small TV there, with few channel options. "Bonanza" was on.
"It's something called 'MeTV,' " Steuter said. "Quite a few old westerns. I like those."
Not that he actually watches. He's too busy reshafting, regripping, fastening, bending, grinding and polishing clubs — especially after the pandemic caused an astounding golf revival last summer, and now there's the annual rush among Minnesota golf addicts to get ready for a new season.
One of those is Steve Lasley, a main character in a piece written in December on the death of Eddie Manderville, a legend as a great player and important figure among Black golfers in the Twin Cities.
Lasley became "Shorty Fats" in Manderville's Theodore Wirth golf world, and it was learned last week he also was a longtime Steuter client.
I called Shorty on Friday and said: "I'm writing a piece on Stan Steuter and need a quote."
Shorty barked in his low voice, "Who?"
"The club fixer over on Bryant — Stan."
"You mean the Doctor!" Lasley said. "He can do magic with a club like nobody else. I just was over there getting some new shafts. I'm going to Tampa to play golf for a week and need to be at my best."
Shorty Fats offered more superlatives for Steuter and said:
"Eddie was good at fixing clubs, but I had a set he could not get where we wanted them. And Manderville said, 'You gotta go to the hospital. You're sick and you need fixin'.
"I thought he was talking about North Memorial. He said, 'No, the Golf Hospital.' So, I went to see 'Doc,' he fixed those clubs, and I've been going ever since."
Lasley said Steuter's No. 1 triumph for him came with a Ping driver.
"I loved the feel of that club, but I couldn't get the ball off the ground," he said. "I took it to Doc, he weighed, measured, did his complete health inspection, and said, 'Your specs are all wrong for this shaft.'
"He put in a new shaft, and I played the next day, and was hitting that driver high and long. The guys I was with started asking, 'What'd you do?' I said, 'None of your business. Just watch and pay up.' "
As would be imagined, Steuter has had an intriguing list of clients over four decades.
Bob Allison, the early-day Twins slugger and golf-a-holic, shipped clubs to Stan for tuneups after moving to Arizona.
"When Bob's ataxia was getting worse, I couldn't understand him, so his wife, Betty, would get on the phone and tell me what he wanted done," Steuter said.
Kevin McHale came in starting in the early '80s and did so for quite a few years.
"One time, he came in with clubs that Danny Ainge had presented him when Kevin left the Celtics," Steuter said. "Ainge was such a prankster, Kevin said, that he wanted me to make sure there wasn't anything goofy with the clubs."
Steuter has received calls from around the world in the search for specialty repairs. "I tell them, 'No, I don't want to get involved in shipping clubs back overseas,' " he said. "But I've been shipped clubs from Australia and China anyway."
The hobbyists appreciate Stan because he still has a "whipping" machine, one that whips the thin nylon cord around the connection between the head and shaft of an old-style wood.
Stan and Julie live in Elk River. She's an assistant coach in soccer and softball at the high school. Brian is a teacher and coaches basketball and soccer in Elk River. Daughters Sarah and Heidi are married and there are five grandkids.
"Stan used to work all the time," Julie said. "He's better now. He's willing to leave something until tomorrow."
"In addition to great work, what I love about Doc is you give him clubs and they're done the next day," satisfied customer Shorty Fats said.
"And price! He'll give you back a club with a new shaft, new grip, polished, looking new, and you get the cost and say, 'Doc, I'm cheating you.' "