Golfers push putting product to the masses
The Aspen Times
A Carbondale native, member of the Aspen Junior Golf travel team as a kid and former assistant professional at River Valley Ranch, Andy Rubin eyed playing on the PGA Tour as a young man.
When that goal didn’t work out as planned, Rubin followed his teaching coach to San Antonio, eventually branching out on his own. Today, the 36-year-old teaches tour players and clients from all over Texas.
He also has an important side project, the Tour Gate, a $10 tool that helps players with their putting strokes.
Partnering with teaching pro and friend, Tom Covino, Rubin co-invented Tour Gate, a training aid Rubin says does two things: It fixes alignment issues, and it helps players hit putts with the center of the club face. A thin piece of plastic with two tees and a disc, it’s similar to the training technique where tees are used to correct the swing path.
Enter third partner David Fritz, president of Innovative Sports LLC, and the product was brought to the masses about four months ago. The largest retailer the trio is in talks with is Dick’s Sporting Goods. The Fortune 500 company stocked 30 different stores with 12 Tour Gates. Depending on sales, they could end up in 4,500 different locations.
“One of the stores that got it first, they sold 11 of the 12 in the first four days or so,” Rubin said. “That was a good sign, but we still need to get it out there.”
On a similar trial basis to the Dick’s agreement — and on automatic-reorder status in some cases — the product also can be found at Golf Galaxy, Golf Town, Golfsmith, Forzani, PGA Superstore and ProActive Sports.
Regardless of how far Tour Gate goes, Rubin and Covino plan on unveiling three other products at a PGA show in Orlando, Florida, in January. Rubin said he has learned that the world of invention is hard.
Even before Tour Gate, Rubin and Covino shared moderate discussion with Shape Sticks, a training setup that helps players learn how to draw and fade the golf ball. The hardest part with that, he said, is that the user almost needs an instructor to explain how it works.
“That’s the hurdle that we’re going to cross next,” Rubin said, adding that an instructional video is a possibility. “Dick’s also liked it. … Once we figure out how to cross that hurdle, I think it’ll be pretty good, as well.”
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Peter Arnold’s playing career ended after high school, but his time on the ice continues a few decades later. A longtime USA Hockey official and new Aspen resident, Arnold is searching for the next generation of hockey referees among the youth ranks here in the Roaring Fork Valley.