I’m an inventor, trained as a mechanical engineer, with deep experience in materials gained in fuel cell R&D. I spent decades developing carbon-carbon composites and worked on Codes and Standards — safety rules and performance testing. Golftek, LLC is a company formed in 2013 to develop a 21st century handheld golf ball compression tester — ProCheck® — and bring it to market.
THE DONAHUE STORY
My starting point is a long way from the golf industry. In 2009, I retired after working 30 plus years developing fuel cells. Many of those years I worked on developing carbon composites. The compressibility of these space age components is very important, and an early career assignment was to measure it. Another phase of my fuel cell work involved helping to write U.S. and International Codes and Standards for the testing and safety of our power-plants.
I’ve always wanted to start a company, create jobs, and delight customers. I got my opportunity when my partner, an ardent golfer, suggested someone should invent a handheld golf ball compression tester to sort the good balls from others. We decided it should be us. Within a couple of months we had a proof of concept and we were on our way.
Drawing on my experience with compressibility and testing standards made the process of measuring golf ball compression relatively easy. Years of working with designers, lawyers, and vendors, taught what we needed to do to develop and patent ProCheck®. The path through prototypes and preproduction is long, but familiar. My knowledge of Department of Defense’s manufacturing readiness matrix provided a rigorous approach to product validation and reliability.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
Getting ProCheck® to market and satisfying a fundamental need for all golfers.
What was the genesis for ProCheckGolf?
Over the last decade the golf ball has gotten much more sophisticated and is more subject to deterioration with time and temperature. Golfers need a hand-held, low cost device to be sure they are playing the right ball for them.
How long a time frame did it take from original concept to actual market introduction?
Where’s the primary emphasis now in terms of building consumer awareness and sales — green grass shops, online sales, brick and mortar outlets?
Getting the word out, and online sales.
Suggested retail price for the product is what?
Plenty of companies tout the importance of customer service. Define the term from your perspective and how ProCheckGolf will deliver on that promise.
We start with the commitment that we will delight our customers. We meet that commitment by delivering information to a golfer that previously only came from a bulky and expensive lab instrument. Our affordable hand-held device is reliable and has been tested by an industry leader to correlate with their laboratory machine with a R2 of 0.94. For those not statisticians — that’s really good.
Do you see your product having a major impact on golf ball companies being more consistent in terms of the compressions of the balls they sell?
As the new kid on the block, we’ve got to build a reputation and get people familiar with our 8 bar scale. Once users start sharing their data, we expect that some companies will show themselves to be more consistent than others.
Is it still important to have validation of products via the PGA TOUR, LPGA, etc, etc?
As mentioned above, we’ve already got confirmation from an industry leader. We look forward to the opportunity to become an industry standard.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
More enjoyable rounds and lower scores by playing the right ball every time
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
My father told me to let my brain stay ahead of my tongue.
Given your professional experience — what advice would you pass along to those just starting careers in the golf industry?
Always try to solve hard problems. Most people give up without getting it right.
For more info go to: