TU students win award for innovative putter

By taking overspin putters into overdrive, a team of six University of Tulsa students won first place in the high growth division of the 2014 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup collegiate business plan competition held April 10 at Bricktown Events Center in Oklahoma City.

The team of six took a design by mechanical engineering professor Steve Tipton and created a cartridge with three different degrees of overspin that can be applied depending on the putting surface. They also came up with a business model, which includes testing the product and then licensing the technology to one of the major golf equipment manufacturers.

The team pocketed $20,000 for winning the Governor’s Cup. Next it will do more extensive testing of the putters prior to the Donald W. Reynolds Tri-State Award Competition May 22-23 in Las Vegas, where they will face the top two teams in the graduate divisions from Arkansas, Nevada and Oklahoma.

Team leader Phillip McCoy is working on his MBA at TU while the other five members are undergradutes, including former TU golfer Krsitina Merkle. Other team members are Se Yeon Kim, Bryan Kinzer, Gann Swan, a caddy at Southern Hills Country Club, and Yang Zhao.

McCoy said the difference between their putter and overspin putters such as the Taylormade Ghost or the Nike Method is the loft on the face.

"The other two have almost no loft angle, which negates the overspin," McCoy said. "Ours has a 4.2 loft. The technology really, really works."

In preliminary testing with a mechanical putting arm the students dubbed Iron Nancy (maybe in honor of former TU golfer Nancy Lopez), McCoy said the putter outperformed a Scotty Cameron putter. However, much more testing including using area professionals on golf courses remains before the regional competition.

McCoy’s work has mainly been on the business plan and he believes the best approach will be to prove the technology works then market it to one of the heavy hitters in the putter industry. More than 60 percent of putters are sold by Titleist, Ping, Odyssey and Taylormade, he said.

Tipton applied for a patent on the technology in 2012 and that is pending. For this project, he turned his concepts over to three of his mechanical engineering students and then added three marketing and business students to develop the marketing plan.
 

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