Clean Flight takes golf ball washing to a new level; PuttLink wins a PGA Show Best New Product award
ORLANDO, Florida — Golf nuts collect a lot of things, such as logo balls, pencils from various courses and even scorecards from layouts they’ve played over the years.
There’s no better company to address the evolution of the golf scorecard than Golf Associates, an Asheville, North Carolina-based company that bills itself as "The Original Scorecard Company."
Golf Associates has been attending the PGA Show since 1972 and they were on hand again this week at the Orange County Convention Center to chat up the latest trends in golf scorecards, with dozens upon dozens to view.
"The hottest thing going would be our specialty papers, something like a linen weave with a foil logo," says Loo Loosier, the company’s sales representative. "Whistling Straits puts that foil logo on its scorecard with the nice paper so it looks more like a wedding invitation than a scorecard.
"If you play Whistling Straits you are going to want to take that home with you. If you play Asheville muni, then you don’t really care about that card as much. To get something in a gold foil is absolutely stunning."
The company was established in 1970, and offers turnkey service, down to the designing and mapping of a course layout. Most courses do an average print run of 10,000 cards, Loosier says. A high-end design like Whistling Straits would cost around $2,500-$3,000 per 10,000 cards as opposed to $800-$1,200.
"Because we specialize in [making scorecards], we know a little more on how to customize the grid for golf courses, what they are talking about when they want their ratings and slope put on there, which sets us apart from a local printer," Loosier says. "And when our designers draw the maps, they are unparalleled. Golf pros always tell us our map design is way beyond what anybody else does."
A BYGONE ERA RETURNS ... SORT OF
Have you noticed a lack of ball washers on many golf courses these days? Some of it was COVID-19 related, but some not as the standard ball washer on every hole seems to be disappearing.
There is a solution though for those of us who like to play with a clean ball on every shot.
Clean Flight Golf, an upstart Canadian-based company, has invented a personal golf ball washer that can hook onto a bag or fit into a drink cup on a golf cart. Fill it halfway with water, add some cleaning soap to the mix and it's ready to wash away.
"This came out of COVID," Clean Flight president Peter Bohlender says. "We thought if there was a time to reinvent the golf ball washing wheel we knew this was the time. We got from concept-to-market in about six months."
The idea was hatched a few years ago when a foursome, which included Bohlender, who has a finance background, a manufacturer, an engineer and a graphics designer, were playing a round of golf in Canada.
"We were on a hole where they were excavating and there were a lot of golf balls sitting in the muck and they looked like Easter eggs and we were scooping them up," he says. "We thought ‘Hey we don’t have anything to clean these with.'"
Bohlender, wearing a shirt that reads "Clean Balls Matter," says the group began plotting strategy during the round.
"The wheels were spinning. We got busy with some engineers and we wanted it to be built very ruggedly and to work. It does," he says. “I think we’ve struck a cord and a lot of people are interested in it when they see it. They don’t always get it at first, but it makes sense when they use it."
The product retails for $37.99 and is now sold in 12 countries.
"Japan is next," Bohlender says. "They love their golf."
THE BEST OF ...
Technology was front and center during the PGA Show's Best New Products awards, an annual exciting moment for all of those in the golf industry who have spent hours developing or designing new items for the game.
That was no exception Thursday for Brian Heaton, inventor of Alabama-based PuttLink, a smart golf ball that connects wirelessly to your mobile devices, offering amateurs a smarter way to practice putting.
Heaton cuts golf balls in half, places a computer chip with Bluetooth inside, then seals the ball for use on the greens. It will provide real-time data such as true roll distance, velocity and Stimpmeter via an app. All the data is then stored online for future reference.
Those who have purchased the balls can join up with other players who own the product for putting competitions and the sharing of data.
"You can go back and look at your stats and monitor it, and see how you are improving over time," Heaton says. "It is data we’ve never had before for amateur players, and we want to link players together with this product."
The balls are not legal for tournament play.
"My son is a junior golfer and when he was 10-years-old he never wanted to practice putting, so I started thinking about what would make it more exciting,” Heaton says. "I invented a ball that when you made the putt it would actually cheer or clap, so it kept him engaged. He wanted that feedback. That turned into this product four years later."
Other winners of the Best New Product Award included South Carolina-based Skoni Footwear and Massachusetts-based DottyGreen Golf, which showcased its new Closest to the Pine Rangefinder.