A Duffer's Dream
Antitheft retail tags inspired RadarGolf founder Chris Savarese to tackle one of the sport's major annoyances.
With a handicap of 17, Chris Savarese spent a fair amount of time in the tall weeds whenever he played a round of golf. After hitting a particularly bad slice on a course in 1993, Savarese headed to a patent library in search of the ideal system for tracking wayward balls. He unearthed several approaches - the oldest dating back to 1925 - but none was the hole in one he was seeking.
Later, while shopping at a department store, Savarese saw someone trip an alarm by unwittingly leaving with a sweater that had its security tag attached. "That technology might work in a golf ball," he thought. So Savarese asked a cashier for some sample security tags, took them home, cracked them open, and found the tiny radio frequency ID antennas inside. Soon after, he raised $80,000 from friends and quit his sales job to work on the idea.
Savarese launched RadarGolf last October, selling packages of a dozen radio-tagged balls with a homing device that can detect lost balls up to 100 feet away ($250); retailers include Golfsmith and the Sharper Image. Savarese says revenue grew 30 percent a month during golf season and could reach $1 million this year. Running a startup means his game has suffered, of course. Still, though he sprays more balls into the woods when he tees up, now he finds just about all of them.To send a letter to the editor about this story, click here.