- How/Why did you start inventing. What set you off?
My story begins while playing golf with friends one day. We just finished playing 9 holes on a 9 hole course. One of the guys Dad owned the course and he was responsible for the course’s maintenance. We were talking in the equipment area after the round and he was complaining he could not find any kids in the neighbourhood to pick up the broken tees on the tee boxes before mowing because it was summer and the beach was a short distance away for the kids 🙂
Right at that moment I thought of all the tees/trees worldwide consumed. Being a machinist/toolmaker I was in work the next day on my lunch hour machining tees out of a few different materials we had in stock.
- Tell us about the product you invented with a brief explanation
Mirror Tee: World’s first Tee with Zero contact at launch
- How did you get from idea to finished product?
I wanted to use as little material as possible so I made the tee hollow with an annular linear edge ball seat; the name Mirror Tee was derived from the design. When you see mirrored 45 degree angles that come together on a machining blueprint one refers to them as mirrored 45 degree dimensions, hence Mirror Tee.
Needless to say I was at a patent lawyer’s office within a week, we filed and a year later we received a response from the uspto that it was denied. My lawyer said, “Mark go home and read the examiners response and get back to me”, he felt the examiner was inventing in responding with the patent denial.
I read all of what the examiner wrote, i.e. ten pages worth of golf tee patent info from before the turn of the century. A few weeks later, I was helping a friend move into a brand new house where the cellar door was not installed yet. While grabbing his golf bag out of the back of the truck, I banged it up against the sides of the cellar foundation knocking all the golf balls out on the ground. I picked them up and was looking at one of his new cub octahedral dimple pattern balls which deems the ball to have a non uniform surface i.e. different size dimples.
I walked into my lawyer’s office the following Monday morning with the new ball. I tossed it to him and said, “what do you think Michael?”, he stared at that ball for roughly five seconds and looked up at me and said “points of contact” lets file a rebuttal to the examiner’s comment that he needed to see something new and unexpected.
We filed a response and showed the examiner the new ball was clearly a non uniform surface that when placed on a regular wooden concave golf tee, the points of contact become non uniform therefore it will wobble. With the Mirror Tee’s linear edge ball seat, the points of contact become uniform in a circle with an annular pointed edge. Within a month they put our patent application in condition of allowance, it was awarded a utility patent; these are deemed the strongest to defend in federal court.
Moving forward I tried leaning the tee as far forward as possible which is roughly 17 degrees thinking it would give a measure of forgiveness when being struck. Came to find out that when we independently robotic tested the tee, the ultra slow motion video was showing the tee as being kicked forward and out from under the compressing ball allowing minimal downward ball expansion while maintaining tee height ultimately adding a fulcrum dynamic to impact. No other tee design in the history of golf achieves this result due to the forward lean and we have all the slow motion videos along with their data to verify it.
The telemetry ball flight data/slow motion video can be reviewed HERE
- Where are you with your product?
The hollow design Mirror Tee can withstand many driver impacts. One customer with a high smash factor sent a tee back to us with 3071 impacts that he documented every time he played golf.
Needless to say the idea/initial thought came full circle in saving trees that help sustain us all!
--End of Interview----
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