From The Editor
by Terry Moore
It all started when he noticed some sharp pain in his wrists. As Locker Room Manager at Egypt Valley CC in Ada, Shaaf Hameed was accustomed to the usual aches and hurts but this was different. "I felt this could be the beginning of carpal tunnel syndrome," said Hameed. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a serious workplace malady associated with workers enduring repeated movements and rote actions, especially using the smaller muscles. For Hameed his ailments largely appeared and coincided with the boom sensation of golf footwear: spikeless shoes. The explosive trend toward spikeless has meant locker room attendants such as Hameed are constantly using power hand-drills to remove and replace spikes. And when you work at a spikeless club with over a thousand golfers such as Egypt Valley you have yourself a veritable assembly line operation. But as the old saying goes, sometimes "necessity is the mother of invention." Bombarded by the onslaught of spikeless shoes and noticing these new aches, Hameed, 46, knew that a better power drill might be the answer.
The Edison-inspired light bulb went on in Hameed's head last November. After speaking to Egypt Valley member Dave Russell, Hameed came up with a simple alternative -- a foot-pedal drill which would free his hands and arms from the muscle strain previously encountered. With some help and guidance from Russell and others, "The Mighty Mite" foot-pedal drill was born. More on that in a moment.
Although he wears a name badge that identifies him as Locker Room Manager, Shaaf Hameed prefers at times the simpler title of "shoe shine man." And he is rightfully proud of his chosen trade that is found at clubs across the country. Years ago, Hameed learned that his great uncle was a shoe shine man in the small town (pop. 1033) of Utica, Mississippi. "He was the man for the entire town and he was proud of it." Hameed got his start in the business more than 12 years ago when he worked with Bert Garrow, the former Locker Room Manager, at Green Ridge CC (the precursor to Egypt Valley).
"I was impressed how well the members treated Bert," said Hameed. "I quickly learned if you treat people well here, they'll treat you well in return." He also noticed the pluses of a job where you could set your own hours so long as the job at hand was completed. "But what really made an impression on me was that Bert was able to put his kids through college with this job. That's when I said to myself, 'This might be the way to go.' Hameed also credits his parents for his good fortune. "Tennie, my mother, is a devout Christian woman with a soft-spoken way," said Hameed. "I guess that's where I get my calm personality." Shaaf's father Blevin was also influential. "He was a sergeant in the Army and he reared us with a strict militarist outlook. For example, I was forbidden to play outdoors with my friends after dark. My father just wasn't going to let us get into trouble," said Shaaf.
Hameed's work ethic was especially reinforced by his mother. "My mother always said, 'Something is better than nothing. And any job is better than not working at all,' " said Hameed. "I believe with will and determination anyone can succeed in this society." For sure, Shaaf is a bona fide success story. With his wife Rasheedah, he has raised four fine children, all of them with good jobs. And he's especially proud that four years ago he and his wife were the first husband and wife to work as a locker room team at a Senior PGA Tour event. "The Senior tournament here is lot of fun," said Hameed. "The players can be demanding at times but they are also very generous." Due to injuries incurred during a car accident in late 1995, Rasheedah is still rehabilitating but is hopeful to return to work soon.
About racial matters, Shaaf Hameed is equally hopeful. "It's as simple as realizing we all need one another." Hameed admits he didn't subscribe to this philosophy 20 years ago when he became a Black Muslim. "Back then the whole black power thing appealed to me. I got caught up with seeing the black man as the cream of the races and the white man being the devil," said Hameed. It was then when the 26-year-old Sherman Riley assumed his present Muslim name. Although he has retained his name, Shaaf later became disillusioned with the Muslims. "They have done many good things but I just didn't see enough results with all of the donations." He also became more inspired by the teachings of Malcolm X. "He showed me that the followers of Islam come from all races and come from all over the globe." Besides Malcolm X, Hameed also admires comedian Dick Gregory. "Like myself, he's a vegetarian. But more importantly, I've always admired how well he speaks on matters of race, religion and science. And he's been a social activist," added Hameed.
For sure, Hameed would've loved Gregory being around last month when PGA Tour star Fuzzy Zoeller made a charity stop at his club. Hot off his controversial remarks about Tiger Woods, Zoeller played at the club and donated his appearance fee of $25,000 to the Multiple Sclerosis outing. About Fuzzy's remarks, Hameed said: "No, I didn't take it too seriously. From what I hear, he's a good person. He was making a joke and he got caught." Hameed went on to say "that even Tiger Woods is learning a lesson about telling jokes in public." As fate would have it, Fuzzy gave Hameed a generous tip at the end of the day. "To be honest, I didn't even recognize him," said Hameed. Instead, Hameed just said a polite thank you to a celebrity golfer and returned to his work and his Mighty Mite.
Hameed has ambitions for his product. With a smile, he says: "Sometimes I dream that every club will have a Mighty Mite." As such, he's working with some patent attorneys to protect his invention and shore up his dream. He's realistic about all the work and pressure ahead. But hard work and pressure are something he's adept at handling. "There's nothing tougher and more tense than finding a member's lost shoes in a hurry," he says with a laugh.
Finally, I asked Shaaf Hameed for the translation of his name. "In Arabic, Shaaf means a curative or remedy while Hameed means to improve and make better," explained Hameed. Wow, could there be more fitting name for an aspiring inventor with a helpful product?
In my humble opinion, carpal tunnel syndrome and lost shoes don't stand a chance.
For more information about Mighty Mite, contact Shaaf Hameed at Egypt Valley 616-676-2626 ext. 125.
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