Strings attached: Ron Wright with a collection of his handcrafted guitars at his home in Mobile, Ala. Photos courtesy of Ron Wright
Ron Wright, CGCS, has a story that will be music to your ears.
Long before he became GCSAA’s Southeast regional field staff representative, Wright had proved himself to be musically inclined. As a forestry major at Michigan State University, he dabbled on the side as a drummer for a five-person band called The Generics. Obviously, they could bring it — in 1980, the group won a contest that rocked their world.
“We got to be the opening act for The Romantics during a spring concert at Michigan State,” says Wright, referring to the rock ‘n’ roll band responsible for hits like “What I Like About You” and “Talking in Your Sleep.” “It was an outdoor concert; there must have been 3,000 people there. There is no better drug than thousands of people applauding you. When you hear that, you’re driven to perform.”
Now, you have the chance to bid on a musical instrument that Wright composed himself. The Alabama resident makes guitars as a hobby — and one of his acoustic guitars is featured in the Golf Industry Show Silent Auction, which benefits the Environmental Institute for Golf. The online bidding started Thursday and goes through Feb. 19 for more than 200 items.
The guitar that’s available in the auction (right) is made of koa from Hawaii and Sitka spruce from Alaska. “The koa comes from Russell Dooge (CGCS Retired, from Hawaii). I’ve been pestering him for years to send me koa,” says Wright, “so he deserves a thank-you. It only grows in Hawaii.” The guitar neck is Honduran mahogany, the finger board and bridge are both Madagascar ebony, the headstock cover is ebony, and the binding on the neck and body are curly maple from northern Michigan.
As a youth, Wright gained an understanding of and passion for woodworking from his grandfather, Hans Rasmussen, who was a master woodworker from Denmark. It also triggered a musical interest in Wright, who first played the drums as a 5-year-old. Twenty-five years ago, he made his first guitar. “I still have it. It’s kind of clunky and over-engineered,” he says.
By his estimation, Wright has completed and sold 40 guitars. He continues to seek perfection when he builds them. “To this day, every time I make a guitar, I think I can make the next one better. It’s a never-ending quest to build the perfect instrument,” Wright says.
He sure still loves to play them. “I’m no Jimi Hendrix, but I can make noise come out of them,” Wright says.
Howard Richman is GCM’s associate editor.