Blog #2: Developing TIN CUP

I am a born-again entrepreneur. Before most recently wandering around for nearly 20 years in the golden handcuffs of high-end real estate in Naples, Florida, I did several gigs, including early stints of teaching 2nd grade, telecommunication consulting and treasure hunting in the Florida keys, then spent the 1980’s producing and marketing a series of video travel guides. The 90’s were the years of raising a family and growing VTV, Visitors Television in Southwest Florida, into a popular local channel, followed by brief stints at old Bill Turner’s Wisdom Television and producing a lecture series on consciousness. Now, with one eye on my paltry social security checks and the other watching the sands of time relentlessly approaching the final short chapter of all our lives, I have decided to return to my childhood passion: chipping plastic balls around the home.

I would play this game for hours on end all around my childhood home, laying out holes marked with cocktail coasters throughout our sprawling Cape Cod house, and chipping ping pong balls from one carpet to the next. When I finally started playing competitively, I was a heckuva chipper. (I loved match play. My opponent would be on in regulation and I’d be somewhere off the green, and, more often than not,  I’d be closer to the hole after our next shots, and watch their shoulders slump time after time.)

One day, playing in a Father-Son tournament, after a particularly good chip on my part, my father remarked, “That’s from all of that chipping that you did at home.” I had never thought about it. I always had been a good at chipping.

My home practicing stopped when I no longer had much room to play in smaller spaces. Frankly, chipping balls back and forth from one carpet to another gets old pretty quickly. But I never forgot the fun of being able to hit a variety of shot lengths with a controlled hook or slice, and adding more or less backspin.  (I just love putting some English on a shot and watching the flight. Superlight, perfectly balanced plastic balls are the ideal way to practice this.)

FIrst prototype

FIrst prototype

Over the last year, I have developed a design for a chipping target game that works in limited spaces I've titled TIN CUP, which I somewhat immodestly label as “The Ultimate Indoor Golf Practice Chipping Game.” Starting with a bath mat roughly marked with slim black rings around a measuring cup posing as a flag,  I have slowly refined and  developed (and rather immodestly declared) an elaborate and challenging, yet surprisingly simple, indoor chipping game that can be set up for easy beginner’s play or to challenge the very best players. (Dustin, can you hear me? To be #1 in this game, you have to get through me!;) 

FInal design

FInal design

It is funny that, of all the designing, my favorite piece of TIN CUP is the ball retriever. I went through several concepts before coming up with a rugged, reliable, elegant tube design that makes it easy to shag the RUGG Golf balls while adding up the score, and then to shuttle them back to the mat in a tumbling rumble . for the next turn. It really makes it a more fun game not to have to bend over to pick up balls.

Along with designing, most of the last year has been in conversation with Chinese suppliers after companies in the USA told me that “we don’t make that here any more” when I inquired about sourcing a measuring cup or a printed carpet. Two out of two. Off to china we go. (China sourcing is a whole other story.)

So now I am off to my first RUGG Golf trade show the PGA Fashion and Demo Experience in Las Vegas August 13-15 at The Venetian. Deciding to exhibit with just 3 weeks notice has not been good for my blood pressure, but it does put me back on the schedule I set six months ago, timed to match the date of the launch of my Kickstarter crowd sourcing campaign so delivery of the first run of games will coincide with the Xmas holiday.  While a daunting timeframe, I am thoroughly enjoying this creative, sprinting spurt and can’t wait to see how it all comes together. The RUGG Golf 30’ booth display will be set up to host the Las Vegas Inaugural TIN CUP World #1 Tournament (#1 because it's the first ever) that includes a $1000 purse to entice the many PGA club pros attending to try the game. I think it is going to be a blast. Hope to see you there.

Time to get back to work.

Bill Van ArsdaleComment