Golf course lies simulator wins PGA innovation award
Last spring the Lehigh Valley duo of Mark Csencsits and Chris Albright unveiled their unique golf-training device to a curious crowd at Sittler Golf Center near Kutztown. A year later they have two more products, one carved by a 3D printer, an award for innovation and a platform from which to enter the competitive world of golf training.
The approach of their company Fatt Matt hinges on a counter-intuitive idea: Shift the focus away from the golf ball and onto the player.
"We want to change the way people perceive training," Csencsits, head teaching professional at Bethlehem Golf Club, said. "The golf industry has been stagnant, and we feel that the industry will benefit from a new way of learning. We want to help the beginning to average golfer, the one who is struggling, who feels like they're wasting their time at practice. We have a way out for them."
Csencsits and Albright, a golf pro and a mechanical engineer from different backgrounds, formed Fatt Matt last year with one device: the Fatt Matt Swing trainer. It is composed of two adjustable platforms, one on which the golfer stands, that help players practice not just shots from uneven lies but also train balance, weight shifts and more.
They generated enough interest from a 2016 demonstration day at Sittler Golf Center to develop a booth at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando in January. This time they brought three products: the swing trainer, a device called the Hole in One Club and set of "Fatt Matt Blue Balls," which essentially are golf ball slices that help fix a variety of swing flaws.
The Fatt Matt booth, one of more than 270 new companies at the show, drew significant interest at the Inventor's Spotlight Pavilion. Fatt Matt also received the show's Most Innovative Concept Award.
"It was just a rush," said Albright, who runs the design company It's All Bright. "We got a lot of reinforcement that we're not crazy and our ideas can go somewhere."
A theme of Fatt Matt's "ecosystem" of products, as Csencsits calls it, regards focusing less on hitting the ball and more on the mechanics of getting there: club path and speed, the angle of attack, a square club face and, of course, hitting the sweep spot. All three devices address those areas in some way.
The Hole in One Club, for instance, has a half-moon-shaped opening instead of a club face. It is designed to train players how to hit a ball square by missing it on purpose.
Professional golfers and teaching pros who tried the club in Orlando all asked the same question: "You want me to miss the ball?" Csencsits said that's part of retraining the brain.
Likewise the "Blue Balls," which essentially are golf balls sliced in half or quarter or three-quarter sizes. They change the way players view hitting a ball, can't be topped or hit fat and promote better contact. Csencsits is developing a companion book (or phone app) of exercises with which to use the balls.
"We're trying to shift the focus away from the ball, because for some people that's a trigger," Csencsits said. "You put the ball down, and that's the first thing they worry about: hitting it. We want to put the control back into the players' hands."
Fatt Matt has moved from the development to marketing phase, hoping to raise enough capital to build more swing trainers and clubs. They're not cheap. Albright has built several iterations of the swing trainer, and 3D printing costs of the clubs runs several hundred dollars each. A fundraising campaign is forthcoming.
But both believe they have products to which the market will respond.
"We are not a training-aid company, just like I'm not a golf pro," Csencsits said. "We are a game-improvement company. We want people to get better and have more fun playing golf."
This article is written by Mark Wogenrich from The Morning Call and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.