| With a growing crowd of PGA Show patrons collecting around the stage, Nick Margin began his pitch to the panel.
Margin traveled from Western Australia just for the opportunity to showcase his invention alongside more than 50 other “Inventors Spotlight” exhibitors on the Orange County Convention Center show floor. He came hoping to build momentum for his brand, Margin Golf, which manufactures, distributes and sells a practice-range golf tee that anchors into the ground.
“When you go to a golf range, you use conventional golf tees that often fly out of the ground and interrupt other people while also making it inconvenient for yourself,” Margin explained to four panel members. “I’m sure we’ve all made that awkward walk at the driving range to pick our tee up.”
This was a recurring scene among the inventors as many of them presented their products in a Shark Tank-style program hosted by the United Inventors Association, a nonprofit dedicated to providing educational resources and creating opportunities for independent inventors. The UIA is the largest inventor member organization in the U.S., supporting nearly 100 affiliate inventor associations.
Contestants received five minutes to explain their product and elicit feedback from panel members who are entrepreneurs and knowledgeable about the golf industry. There were also small booths set up for inventors to display their products and converse with showgoers interested in finding innovative products. In many cases, inventors can receive meaningful help in coordinating certain parts of their business.
“The ‘Inventors Spotlight’ at the PGA Show is a golf invention showcase unlike any other in the golf industry, and a favorite stop on the PGA Show floor for industry influencers and product-development experts,” said Marc Simon, a vice president at PGA Golf Exhibitions. “In working with the United Inventors Association, we are pleased to provide a platform for inventors to introduce and demonstrate their golf-related innovations, receive feedback from leaders in the golf industry and potentially secure new points of retail distribution.”
Golf naturally has lent itself to inventions for centuries, but there are still plenty of interesting ideas that come to fruition. Many of the products are training aids or directly related to the golf swing, but others go beyond the physical act of playing the game. There was everything from golf-inspired garment bags (Alltimate Luggage) to a golf club holder that connects to most strollers (Kid Caddie) so parents can bring their children to the course.
On day two of the show, three awards were given out to some of the most outstanding products on display.
The Pinnacle Award for best in show went to Paradax Golf, producers of a golf bag that doubles as a standard cart bag and a three-wheeled push cart. There are three wheels attached to the bag that can pop out to create a push cart, eliminating the need to buy or rent a separate push cart.
The award for most innovative product was given to Vippy Golf, a Swedish company selling a height-adjustable and super-flexible golf tee. The tee, which uses carbon fiber woven tubes, can be used on all surfaces and is being marketed as a tool facilities can install on their driving ranges.
Lastly, the award for best marketing among this year’s inventions went to Mach One. The single-use novelty golf ball brand touts itself as “the world’s loudest golf ball.” The company put out a YouTube video where golfers are reacting to the abnormally loud sound their playing partners have produced. The video has more than 32,000 views.
Seeing all of the inventions is a reminder of how passionate many entrepreneurs feel about the game and how they are hoping to break their way into the golf industry. It’s a crowded field, but the best inventions have the chance to impact the game in a meaningful way.