In­ven­tors tee off in race for golf ’s next big thing

US television chan­nel sizes up 103 new ways to im­prove your game, writes Rod­ney Page

Sunday Times - - News -

WHO is re­spon­si­ble for the golf tee? Who gave the golf world those lit­tle divot fix­ers? Who is the brainiac who put GPS in golf carts? Ge­nius golf in­ven­tors, that’s who. Thou­sands of peo­ple think they have the next big golf in­ven­tion. Now, thanks to a new se­ries on the Golf Chan­nel in the US, some of those in­ven­tors will get a chance to mar­ket their prod­ucts to a panel of judges.

The show is called Fore In­ven­tors Only, and it fea­tures 103 golf in­ven­tions that will even­tu­ally be whit­tled down to a top five.

The win­ner, voted on by view­ers, will re­ceive shelf space for a year at a golf re­tailer, a fully de­vel­oped in­fomer­cial and $50 000 worth of com­mer­cial and pro­mo­tional air­time.

The show is hosted by Vince Cellini. PGA Tour player Ful­ton Allem, golf in­struc­tor Bill Har­mon and Golf for Women se­nior ed­i­tor Stina Sternberg are the judges. Some of the prod­ucts: ý The Golf Work­sta­tion In­ven­tors: Babe and David Bel­lagamba. Cost: $295. Web­site: www.golf­work­sta­tion.com.

Ben­e­fit: The de­vice claims to prop­erly align the body at ad­dress, cre­ate flex­i­bil­ity in the mus­cles used dur­ing a swing, pre­vent sway­ing back and forth, go­ing up on the toes or a re­verse pivot.

Draw­back: Un­less the PGA or the USGA change rules, it is il­le­gal to take the Golf Work­sta­tion on to the course. Be­ing made up of PVC pipes, bars, mat­ting and vel­cro, how would it fit in the golf cart any­way?

In his own words: “There are gen­er­ally about 10 faults that peo­ple have dur­ing the golf swing. There is a dif­fer­ent po­si­tion for each por­tion of the golf swing. If you don’t take the proper back­swing or the proper down­swing, you can’t hit the ball with this de­vice.

“It helps the av­er­age golfer de­velop the proper golf swing through rep­e­ti­tion. It helps de­velop mus­cles that are needed to swing the club. I’ve been study­ing this for a long time. I’ve done my home­work. I know this works, said David Bel­lagamba.

Fi­nal note: Babe Bel­lagamba is de­ceased. He in­vented the Full-Cir­cle Swing Trainer for be­gin­ner golfers. Made from PVC, that in­ven­tion teaches the up-and-down plane of a swing.

ý The Uni­ver­sal Align­ment A-1 Al­pha Golf Ball

In­ven­tor: Matthew Chute. Cost: $49.95 for one dozen (and comes with an in­struc­tional video). Web­site: www.uni­ver­salalign­ment.com.

How it works: Lines are gen­er­ated to act as a vis­ual aid to en­sure the golfer is lined up prop­erly.

Ben­e­fit: Once a golfer un­der­stands the con­cept, it will guar­an­tee 18 per­fect tee shots and 18 per­fect putts.

Draw­back: At about $50 a dozen, don’t knock th­ese balls into the wa­ter or the woods. And it doesn’t help you line up your fair­way shots, un­less it’s lift, clean and place.

In his own words: “The process of lin­ing up cor­rectly is the sin­gle big­gest prob­lem in golf. The lines act as vis­ual con­fir­ma­tion that the setup is cor­rect. It’s just like aiming a ri­fle or a bow. You have to have your body set up in a spe­cific way.

“I have the back­ground to know that this is a prag­matic approach. Once peo­ple know more about this, it will rev­o­lu­tionise the golf ball in­dus­try just like metal wood rev­o­lu­tionised the equip­ment in­dus­try,” Chute said.

Fi­nal note: Chute claimed to have stud­ied spher­i­cal trigonom­e­try at the Mas­sachusetts Mar­itime Academy and is a li­censed teach­ing pro. He has gone close to $50 000 in debt try­ing to mar­ket his align­ment golf ball. ýWrist Firm In­ven­tor: Richard Tram­mel. Cost: $49.95. Web­site: www.shot­savers.com.

How it works: For a right-handed golfer, a spe­cially made glove with a metal piece stitched in is placed on the left hand. Vice versa for the left-handed golfer. The glove pre­vents the left wrist from cup­ping, or bend­ing, at the top of the swing.

Ben­e­fit: By keep­ing the wrist straight, it al­lows for more dis­tance on drives and iron shots. It puts the ball on a lower tra­jec­tory, which helps with dis­tance.

Draw­back: Be­cause the Wrist Firm stretches al­most to the el­bow, it takes some get­ting used to.

In his own words: “I’ve been a teach­ing pro since 1989, and one day I started work­ing with a stu­dent who had prob­lems cup­ping his wrist. I tried a lot of dif­fer­ent prod­ucts, but noth­ing worked. I worked on it for about five years, then in 2001 I fi­nally came up with the Wrist Firm. It re­ally gives the golfer a feel that can’t be taught be­cause the swing is so fast. It forces the golfer to get into the po­si­tion you want to be in. It keeps the wrist straight,” said Tram­mel. ý Krutch Put­ter In­ven­tors: Mark Cokewell and StephenWegzyn. Cost: $179-$199. Web­site: www.rose­mark golf.com.

How it works: The put­ter rests in the armpit as the golfer looks straight at the hole. It is swung like a pen­du­lum as the golfer stands on one side of the put­ter.

Ben­e­fit: This is based on the the­ory golfers have one dom­i­nant eye. By look­ing straight at the hole, most golfers will have a bet­ter look at the hole and not be dic­tated to by the dom­i­nant eye.

Draw­back: It is de­signed to have only one hand on the club, so it will take prac­tice to get a steady hand.

In his own words: “I was play­ing golf and not do­ing too well at it when I started hit­ting the putts one-handed. I was get­ting them very close to the hole, so I started think­ing that I was on to some­thing. The hard part was get­ting it an­chored in the armpit and also have it con­form to the rules of golf. But it’s re­ally that most peo­ple are right-eye dom­i­nant. This gets them look­ing straight at the hole and gives them a bet­ter chance, es­pe­cially on the longdis­tance putts,” said Cokewell. ý Grip Loose Fin­ger Sleeve In­ven­tor: Allen Webb. Cost: $24.95 (small, medium, large). Web­site: www.griploose.com.

How it works: The fin­ger sleeve is a neo­prene stretch­able mesh fab­ric that fits over any fin­ger and beeps when the club is gripped too hard. A snap on the bot­tom of the de­vice has a sen­sor, pow­ered by a triple-A bat­tery. It goes off when too much pres­sure is ap­plied.

Ben­e­fit: It forces golfers to grip the club loosely, which should al­low for a smoother swing and cut down on in­juries a tight grip may cause. It can also be used in ten­nis and base­ball.

Draw­back: It could be dis­tract­ing to hear a beep in your back­swing.

In his own words: “It re­ally started, for me, with ten­nis. I had some ten­nis el­bow prob­lems. It came from grip­ping the rac­quet too tightly. I started grip­ping it loosely, and I’ve been pain-free for 30 years. I got to think­ing about how I can cre­ate a de­vice that tells peo­ple when they are grip­ping too hard. Through trial and er­ror, I came up with the Grip Loose, and it’s helped a lot of peo­ple. It’s re­ally pre­ven­ta­tive medicine. Peo­ple will see that they don’t have to grip a racket or club hard to get re­sults,” said Webb.

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