#AskJimHack - Turning Point

February 22, 2019

#AskJimHack - Turning Point

Where did it all come together?

Edgartown Golf Club

I’ve been fortunate to work at many golf courses, some of which were great tracks and we always had fun matches.   My golf career has spanned all over the USA and I’ve experienced some great environments for the growth of my game and the inspiration of my ideas.   My time at Edgartown Golf Club on Martha’s Vineyard was the culmination of an explosion of ideas and opportunity!  I began my time at EGC in May of 2001 after leaving a great job in La Quinta, CA at the Plantation Golf Club.

Edgartown Golf Club (EGC) was at first glance a small golf course on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, but as far as a beauty is concerned, it’s hard to find a more unique plot of land for a golf course.  Built in 1926 by Cornelius S. Lee (Secretary of the USGA for twenty years), the golf course had a very unique growth and development in those early days.

My first impression of EGC was of a modest entrance to the club at the end of a quiet street: Curtis Lane.  The parking lot was gravel and one had to maneuver around a few trees in the parking lot, which there were multiple times the maneuvering was not managed properly and those trees took a bite out of a few bumpers.  Once reaching the quaint locker room and pro shop area, you have the opportunity to see the whole golf course and the Nantucket Sound as a beautiful picturesque backdrop.

Beginning my experience at EGC in May of 2001, I was ready to see what ‘East coast golf’ was all about and focus solely on Teaching.   The opportunity to meet such a wide array of individuals at EGC allowed me the chance to develop my teaching (and communication skills).   While working with new, as well as established players, I quickly learned that many students learn in different ways.   This led to much experimentation in my teaching, but unfortunately this didn’t have the positive results I was looking for with my teaching program.   During my time at EGC, I had the chance to caddie on the PGA Tour in the off-season.   This great opportunity allowed me to watch the best players in the world play and practice.  I started to notice these players all had tremendous rhythm and were always staying in balance; the two characteristics that my students did not share.  I spent countless hours on the range in the late hours of the evening developing this rhythm and balance concept and concluded I needed a tool to allow my students to feel this motion.  So, in a tiny shed at our driving range, I started making what would become Orange Whip prototypes.  The concept was based on swinging a ball on the end of a chain to attain the synchronization of an athletic golf swing.  I quickly determined that the chain wasn’t going to work after realizing that it would take the head off most golfers!   I switched to a flexible fiberglass rod and experimented endlessly at the work bench in the shed. Finally achieving a device that felt great to swing, and was easy for many to use.   This prototype became a staple in my teaching program, and quickly I had many of my students asking to buy it from me.  This is when I had the lightbulb moment and I decided to start a business.   I was able to work with a few of the EGC members to pool together funds to help me get started.  I felt a bit uncomfortable about this because I was treading in unknown waters of starting a business.   But, I was lucky to find success rather quickly and was able to pay back my ‘Angel Investors’ within a year and a half!

My time at EGC was more than the golf course or practice facility, it had much more to do with the great people I met whom helped and inspired me to make this leap of faith into a golf training aid business.   I still keep in contact with many from the island, and visit whenever I can.  I truly believe that if I had not been offered the Teaching job at EGC, my life may not have made the transition it has.  I truly enjoyed the 7 years I spent on the island, it was an experience that changed my life!