Back in 1994 I was practicing golf between lessons from the PGA pro at my local driving range. In the beginning my golf swing had a very unnatural feel and I tried to consider the multitude of advice regarding posture, position, grip and swing as I practiced. With each new swing the whole process of setting up began again, immediately following teeing up a new ball. As I progressed, I began to hit some rewarding golf shots. It was at around this stage that the idea for Power Tee started to form.
After playing a really good (straight and relatively long) golf shot, I would tee up a new ball and hit it in a completely different direction/way with what I believed was an identical swing. It occurred to me that by having the ball automatically replaced, I could work on individual aspects of my setup and swing without changing everything to tee up a new ball. This was the “aha!” moment that inspired the Power Tee and the first prototype was built where the ball was to be delivered at a chosen height and then automatically replaced.
Since I am an engineer, I was able to produce a working machine for very little investment and demonstrate it to a number of golfers. The reaction of the golfer was fantastic and almost without exception I was asked “when can we try one on a range?”
After more than a year of fundraising, a company partnered with me to fund the development of a hydraulic tee called “Power Tee”. The machine was hydraulic to make it indestructible and was built and tested to 2 million balls in a factory environment.
More than 350 of these machines were sold and they proved 3 points:
1. Golfers love hitting off of Power Tee
2. Ranges that vend Power Tee make more money
3. The first machine we had designed was not up to the job of mass market automation.
Knowing that the machines made sense commercially energized us to design and build a better machine. The three years of operating the hydraulic system gave us an enormous amount of experience to help design a new machine that would work well in the environment in which it operated. For almost 12 whole months we kept putting back the launch of the new machine as we kept on learning lessons in the field.
During these long years, we remortgaged our house several times to support the company while growing an uncomfortable amount of credit card debt to meet our daily living costs. When we finally launched the MKII machine it was an immediate success, reliability soared, cost of service dropped as did the cost of installation and production. After five years of automating driving ranges and making good profits for our customers, we became profitable for ourselves.
It was not long after this in 2004 that we entered a competition on industrial design and engineering, to be judged by James Dyson the vacuum cleaner billionaire. Despite tough competition including a very innovative hydraulic retracting bridge over the River Thames, we won the Wiltshire Business of the Year Award. Receiving an award from such an accomplished designer was a great accolade.
Less than a year later I personally took orders for more than $1M worth of machines in less than one week. Given that it took more than a year to make the first sale, the contrast was dramatic. Shortly after this, the company was invited by the PGA of UK and Europe to become an official supplier of driving range teeing equipment. As part of the relationship, the PGA now recommends Power Tee at all of its consultations across the UK and Europe.
In 2009 Power Tee won the Queen’s Award for Innovation, Britain’s most prestigious business award. I, along with my wife who is a chartered accountant and a major part of the company, were invited to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen to receive the award.
By 2009 we had automated more than half of the ranges in the UK and we had a seasoned UK management team. At the end of this year, we relocated to the USA to launch the American operation. We brought with us over a million dollars and 400 machines. Since then we have set up shop in Ponte Vedra, Florida, home to TPC Sawgrass and have our first eight US employees as well as our first 10 customers. Max our first child, was born in Jacksonville shortly after our arrival in 2010. He hits balls off of a Power Tee every day in our back yard.
We are excited to introduce Power Tee to America and demonstrate that, unlike other automation models, it actually works!! As more range owners use our product, they will see the huge benefits that Power Tee brings to their businesses. We also want to help golfers understand the benefits of practicing on Power Tee.
Our reputation can only grow with awareness of what we do.
Power Tee is the World Leader in Automatic Teeing System