Local inventors on target with touchless ball lift for golf courses
Friday, July 24, 2020
The Windsor Star/Mary Caton
COVID-19 was literally the necessity that became the mother of invention for a new touchless ball retrieval system devised by two local golfers and now business partners in Frank Cirino and David Thibert.
Cirino serves on the golf course committee at Pointe West and was involved in meetings around how to safely reopen the course following mandated protocols.
“We had to come up with an idea on how you could retrieve the ball out of the hole without touching it or the flag stick,” Cirino said.
He had a rough idea of how the Mully Cup would work and as president of Amherstburg’s Lomar Machine Repair he sought out the expertise of a client, David Thibert, owner of Mega Mold International in Maidstone.
Thibert, a member at Essex Golf and Country Club, refined the design and nailed down the specific compound to make it durable.
“We made a few different versions and then realized we needed something adjustable because some flag sticks are a half inch (thick) and some are tapered,” Thibert said.
For a project that only started to percolate in April, Cirino and Thibert had something ready for play when the provincial government allowed courses to open in mid-May.
Pointe West golf pro Rick Schmidtgall did a short YouTube tutorial for players on how to use a putter to lift the top plastic disc of the Mully Cup up and release the ball.
Thibert’s own course started play with another metal version of a touchless device but switched when they saw the Mully Cup.
“It doesn’t scratch or damage your putter like the metal ones were,” Thibert said.
The biggest advantage, noted Cirino, is “ours allows the ball to go in at 360 degrees, there’s nothing that obstructs the ball.”
The Mully Cup is also in play at Beach Grove, Seven Lakes, Fox Glen and the new mini putt attraction at Ure’s Country Kitchen in Harrow.
The Mully Cup is being used at about 50 courses across Canada according to a spokesman for its distributor, Bayco Golf in Winnipeg.
“These guys have come out with the best unit out there,” said Cal Surgenor, general manager for the company that sells golf course accessories. “I’ve seen many different versions, a few guys were out very early in the market with something but we chose to sit back and watch that category and we’re really, really glad we waited. This does the job, it’s durable and it doesn’t impede play.”
Surgenor thinks the Mully Cup will stick around even if the time comes when play no longer needs to be modified because of COVID-19.
“Some day when COVID is gone, this item is the new normal,” Surgenor said. “It absolutely will stay. “
Its arrival dovetails nicely with a recent rule change that states the flagstick doesn’t have to be removed when putting.
“It speeds up play,” Cirino said. “And a lot of people don’t like to bend over to get their ball out of the cup.”
Thibert likes to pull the pin on putts of 10 feet or less but knows “it’s kind of a hard change for our generation but for the next generation of golfers it will be nothing.”