Why did you decide to start this business?
The Tour Striker was not my (Martin Chuck) first idea to help golfers. I have been a tinkerer regarding training aids throughout twenty seven years of coaching people. When you coach a lot, you are always thinking, "boy, if I just had something that could..." That is basically how the idea of the Tour Striker Training Club came about. I was teaching a scooper and realized that if he couldn't depend on the bottom of the club face to scoop with, he would be better off. Off to the cart barn I went and started grinding! My lovely wife, Stacey, really believed in the idea and was the driving force to seeing the the project to completion.
What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome?
I was pretty fortunate how things fell into place for me. After I have created a workable prototype on my own, I needed a club designer to actually make the product look nice. I sent an e-mail to Tom Wishon, who is a club designer and manufacturer, and he was kind enough to refer me to Mark Myrhum, who was a contract designer for many top OEM's. Mark helped me with the design and early models but the biggest thing that he did for me was connect me to the manufacturers in China. SCON manufacturers have been fantastic.
What was the most rewarding moment in this process?
I love hearing all of the success stories from the golfers who have improved using the Tour Striker. I've received at least a thousand e-mails from people who have began to strike the ball better after practicing with the Tour Striker. I believe I have changed the intent of how golfers swing the club. That is very pleasing to me.
Explain the process of going from idea to having a finished product for sale. How long did it take?
The idea came from a student. I wanted to remove what could be construed as positive feedback by scooping at the ball. People can scoop their entire career and never really learn how to compress the ball properly. The idea came to me in the Fall of 2006. I made a usable prototype on my own. I did a patent search. Once I realized that I had an opportunity to patent the idea, I proceeded. I found a designer to help me create a commercial version and started on a marketing plan. We didn't have a lot of money, but we did fund the project all on our own initially. I had product for sale in December 2008. My wife and I decided to display the Tour Striker at the 2009 PGA Show and it was met with a lot of excitement from PGA Members.
We sold Tour Strikers via my website, www.tourstriker.com from our home in Bend, Oregon. We were selling anywhere from 1 to 10 units per day with zero paid advertising. We used social media, YouTube and Facebook, to help expose the product. There are a lot of unsavory people in business and I felt threatened by some of the golf companies out there and felt the need to expand the Tour Striker brand so it would be more identifiable. My wife and I partnered with a marketing company for 50% of the proceeds and we created an infomercial with Gary McCord that aired in May 2010. Since the infomercial, we have sold more than 100,000 Tour Strikers around the World and now have other products in the brand.
What unexpected challenges did you face?
The expense of patents throughout the World is very expensive. We have paid a boatload in attorney's fees.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting a golf business?
There are some necessary steps for sure. If you have a product idea be sure to get a patent search done. There are thousands of viable products and great ideas that never make it to market. It is well worth the expense to pay an attorney to search to see if your product won't infringe on someone else's idea. Starting a business begins with a good plan. You need to know how you will sell your product or services, who your market is and how you will fulfill and service your customers.