A Michigan golfer and second-generation tool maker have developed an innovative golf course accessory that reduces golf ball cup damage and improves the pace of play.
The Golf Ball Tender is beneficial to golf course superintendents and golfers alike, especially with the recent United States Golf Association (USGA) rule change that no longer penalizes putting with the flagstick in.
Larry Koning, a Holland, Mich. tool maker and plastics manufacturer, invented the Golf Ball Tender, a pliable plastic disk that attaches to the flagstick stem and rests at the bottom of the cup.
Golfers can simply lift the flagstick to retrieve the ball instead of using a putter to try to pop the ball out or jamming their hands into the cup with the flagstick still in to try to retrieve the ball—both of which can damage the cup and slow pace of play.
The Golf Ball Tender also helps protect the green from damage caused by golfers dropping the flagstick on the green and acts as a guide when replacing the pin in the hole.
“It’s just hard to get your ball out of that cup without impacting the edges,” Koning said. “Our goal with Golf Ball Tender is to help keep the cup in good condition all day long. The more you talk to golf course superintendents, the more you hear about cups fraying as a result of players retrieving their ball with the flag still in. Golf courses that want to offer the best experience for their members and guests will want a Golf Ball Tender on every hole.”
The patent-pending Golf Ball Tender remains pliable in all conditions, easily attaches to the flagstick, and will stay on the stick all season. It is available in custom colors.
Koning is president of LS Molds, an injection molding and mold-building company in Holland. He also is a prolific inventor, developing products including imitation blueberries for material handling and crafts, plastic corners for protecting certain materials, and a magnetic hanger system for suspending ceilings.
Why I Invented the Golf Ball Tender
USGA rule change Rule 13.2a(2) allowing putting with the flagstick remaining in has created an unexpected problem: cup edges becoming frayed because players are reaching into the tighter space for their golf balls. The rule has increased the pace of play but often at the cost of crisp edges on the hole, especially when you consider that nearly 50% of golfers now putt with the flagstick in.
The Golf Ball Tender is a pliable disk that attaches to the stem of the flagstick, resting at the bottom of the cup. Players simply lift the flagstick to retrieve the ball. The Golf Ball Tender is not visible until the flagstick is pulled from the hole. What’s more, Golf Ball Tender helps protect the green from damage caused by carelessly dropping the flagstick on the green and also acts as a guide when replacing the pin in the hole.
In addition to indirectly encouraging players to reach down with two fingers, the new rule increases the frequency of players attempting to “pop” the ball out of the hole by yanking out the flag. These harmful techniques cause damage, which negatively impacts the experience for subsequent players. The Golf Ball Tender makes ball retrieval faster and more convenient, easier for the elderly and enhances the pace of play as the new rule intended.
As a golf enthusiast myself, I developed the Golf Ball Tender to keep the game of golf fast-paced with pristine blemish-free holes. I firmly believe this 100% made-in USA Golf Ball Tender will help to accomplish these goals.