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
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.