At Golf Pitch Challenge, a "Shark Tank" Original & Legendary PGA Coach Seek the Next Big Golf Invention

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PGA of America Golf Professional David Leadbetter is one of the game’s foremost coaches, working with thousands and thousands of golfers in his multi-decade career. He’s seen it all. “Golfers are crazy, right?” Leadbetter says with a big laugh. “So, the game lends itself to bringing out crazy ideas.” Leadbetter, the 2017 PGA Teacher & Coach of the Year, and Kevin Harrington, a former ‘shark’ on the award-winning television program "Shark Tank" and influential entrepreneur were part of the judges panel at Thursday’s Golf Pitch Challenge at the PGA Show. The panel also included supply chain and manufacturing wizards Mike & Derek Locker, former professional golfer turned social media strategist Carolin Pinegger, PGA of America Member and golf club engineering guru Santiago Mari, PGA, and highly accomplished investment professional Daniel Cannon. Moderated by broadcaster and content creator Hally Leadbetter, select golf innovators pitched their products to the panel and they would ultimately crown one winner. There will be three other Golf Pitch Challenge events through 2024 at various other locations. Founded in 2023, the goal of the Pitch Challenge is to find unique but practical new products that would enhance players’ everyday golf life. Herrington has been taking business pitches for more than 40 years and is one of the most authoritative people in the world when it comes to creating sales for inventors. In fact, he’s propelled numerous business ventures to $5 billion in global sales and has facilitated the launch of over 500 products. Still, he says it’s just as awesome as ever to see how excited people get when they share their product and ideas. “That’s the thing – everyone needs some help in some way,” Herrington says. “Many people need capital, they need distribution, they need manufacturing, and the biggest thing they need is customer acquisition. We have somebody for all of it.” Herrington recalls the first time he came to the PGA Show in the early 1990s and he visited with PGA Championship winner Davis Love III at a booth for the Medicus. For golfers of a certain generation, it’s impossible to forget seeing the infomercial for the hinged swing-aid product – the first of its kind. Herrington says that product ended up doing hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. In his eyes, there are three keys for a successful pitch. First someone should ‘tease’ him with an attention-getting problem, then you should ‘please’ him by solving the probable with a demonstration or magical transformation or testimonial, and then ‘seize’ him with an irresistible offer. “People should be excited about pitching. But if we do choose to get involved with them in some fashion, we can bring everything to the table that they’re going to need,” Herrington says. Leadbetter, even at 71, isn’t resting on his laurels in terms of his own products. His latest is called The StraightAway, with the tagline of “clip it and rip it.” It’s a swing aid to help groove a perfect tour-level takeaway. “It’s great to have something that looks great – but it’s got to work,” Leadbetter explains. “This is what it’s all about. People thinking up ideas. And golf lends itself perfectly to ideas that could come through. If people are excited about it, then we can really help them bring their idea to fruition.”