BombTech Golf Interview with the University of Vermont

Posted by Tyler Sullivan on

BombTech Golf Interview with the University of Vermont

Thanks to Josh Brown at University of Vermont for talking about BombTech golf!

"Golf Bombs Away!

Alumnus works with students to engineer highly rated clubs

When Josh Ross received a new golf club — a driver designed by four UVM undergraduate engineering students — he was, he says, “a little skeptical.” An independent reviewer for Golfballed.com, a partner with Reader’s Digest, Ross receives a stream of gear from major manufacturers. Golf is big money: the National Golf Foundation reports that there was about $4 billion in golf equipment sales last year.

But the lime-green-and-black club Ross received was built by the decidedly non-major manufacturer BombTech, the one-man-shop of Tyler Sullivan, a UVM School of Business alumnus, class of 2007. He built the club at home in Vermont.

"Can a guy really get together with some college students and create a driver that is comparable to those already on the market?” Ross wanted to know. Apparently yes — or even better.

“I have received many items to test and review,” Ross writes. “There has never been one that blew my mind as much as this driver.”

Good numbers

Say “pull the pin,” and some might think of a grenade. Golfers might think of the putting green and the need to pull the flag — the “pin” — when a well-placed shot comes in toward the hole. Sullivan hopes his customers will think of both when using his driver. He calls the new club “The Grenade.” And it seems to be hitting many reviewers and golfers who have tried it, as, well, explosive.

The tests Ross and others have done give the BombTech club higher numbers for ball speed, carry distance, backspin, and total distance than other high-end drivers from companies like Titlelist, TaylorMade and Callaway.

Sullivan reports that business is brisk. He’s sold hundreds of the clubs, direct from his company’s website (he doesn’t use retailers, he says, to keep his costs down). List price, $499; as of press time, the club was on sale for $299.

His growing business began in frustration on the golf course. But not because he kept shanking balls into the rough. Instead, the clubs he was getting would break. He hits the ball hard. After six or seven drivers broke, he says, he’d had enough.

So he started building drivers himself, ordering shafts and high-end heads and assembling them at home. “I found out I was good at this,” he says, and pretty soon he was providing home-built clubs to his friends, too, and began to make some sales. But back-orders on heads — and a sense that the design of drivers was not what it could be, led him to wonder if he could go to market with his own, better, driver.

Engineering insights

In 2012, Sullivan — called “Sully” — approached UVM’s College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences to see if they could help. Professors John Novotny and Jeff Frolik, who lead the year-long “capstone” course for seniors in the college — “SEED" for "Senior Experience in Engineering Design” — connected him with four students.

Soon, Mark Belanger, Ryan Corey, Ryan Mickelson, and Evan Olson — all mechanical engineering majors, class of 2013 — were working away on club designs as their senior project. On a computer, they developed 3-D models of various possibilities, with an eye toward reducing wind drag on the club’s head.

“Bombtech Golf wants a radically new golf driver head to be sold to the public,” the students wrote in their design problem statement. “The driver head must adhere to USGA standards and must not infringe on any existing patents.” They explicitly had the average golfers’ ability in mind, seeking a club that is very aerodynamic while offering a large sweet spot.

The computer simulations led to building a real prototype that they tested in a wind tunnel in UVM’s Votey Hall. It had a large face, two large cavities in the underside, and a pleasing bulbous shape that fills the limit of the USGA’s rules: 460 cubic centimeters.

“It's not a hard science,” Mickelson says. “You have to balance the visual appeal with the functionality. We had some ugly drivers and some pretty drivers. There is no template out there which says: this is how you make the right shape.”

Their design is similar to other large drivers on the market — except for the dual cavities. These aim to reduce drag by creating a vortex behind the club head. Their final design, cast in Ti-1188 titanum, led to a 48 percent reduction in drag compared to a traditional driver.

An unexpected additional benefit of the cavities is that they slightly raise the club’s center of gravity. This, the students report, “reduces spin and creates a more penetrating ball flight,” reducing the “ballooning” that is the bane of many mid-pack golfers. Even more unexpected, the cavities seem to aid in squaring the face of the driver, increasing the odds of hitting the ball straight. “Now that is something no other company can claim,” Josh Ross writes. “It’s almost as if the driver has self-correcting technology.”

Game changer

Sullivan isn’t stopping with the driver. This year, he’s engaged another group of UVM engineering seniors to design a putter for BombTech. Corey Tillson, Tori Thacher, Cody Jackson and Jeff Keenan have developed a design for a wing-style mallet putter, heavier than average, to be forged in carbon steel.

Tillson holds up his smartphone to show two competing near-final designs the students have developed. They both look vaguely like spaceships. With Sullivan, the students are in final design talks with Stephens Precision, Inc., a specialty metal fabricator in Bradford, Vt.

“We want a 100 percent Vermont product,” Sullivan says.

“From our research, we came up with ways that our design would be better than other designs on the market,” Keenan says. Once they have a metal prototype in hand they’ll get to work testing it. They’re building a pendulum rig out of PVC pipe that will let them refine and widen the putter’s sweet spot and more tightly focus the paths of balls hit off-center.

“This next semester is really important,” Thacher says. “We’re going to be pilot testing our club, and we want to be sure it stands out over other clubs in the market.” One of the fundamental advantages the students have over major manufacturers is that they only need to think about best designs for golf, not tweaking exisiting product lines to meet marketing plans. And actually playing some golf using her own club should be rather fun too, she admits.

”We’re excited and nervous too,” Jackson says. “Sully has put a lot of trust in us to design something that will be marketable and ‘game-changing’ as he says. We’re his engineering team.”

Long ball

Sullivan played golf as a youngster and finished fifth in the Massachusetts State Championship his junior year at Westborough High School. “Then I took a total hiatus in college. I played rugby. I wanted nothing to do with golf,” he says. Then, in 2010, one of his buddies invited him to a long drive competition in New Hampshire. “I just showed up; I haven't played golf in years, and I qualified,” he recalls. “I hit it 350 yards. I got hooked. I was back.”

A certain reporter — who is so bad at golf that his handicap, if he had one, would need to be expressed with an exponent — did not grow up playing golf. Still, he tried out the Grenade at the Kwiniaska Golf Club driving range in the fall. Sullivan and the four students who had designed it were there, hitting what looked like missiles nearly out sight. The reporter fingered the club anxiously.

Then, feeling more like he was chopping wood than playing golf, the reporter arced the club down and barely grazed the top of a ball that dribbled, maybe, 20 yards over the grass. But the reporter heard a pleasing metallic noise nonetheless. “Just grip it and rip it; you'll be fine,” Sullivan said. “Swing easily.”

So the reporter took a deep breath and tried it again. Then, like an out-of-body experience, the Grenade swooshed down toward the ground with a delicious sense of weight, a moment of commune between titanium and plastic, a satisfying “ping,” and the ball vanished.

“There it goes,” said Sullivan pointing. And, after a moment, the reporter could see the tiny white dot land straight away, maybe 150 yards. “Made contact. That's good,” said Sullivan. “A little more weight on your back foot.” OK, the reporter realized, a club can’t make you a good golfer, but it can make you feel the power of a good design."

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Want to learn more and improve your swing? Join our BombTech Golf Academy!

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Which states play the most golf?

Posted by Tyler Sullivan on

Which states play the most golf?

I wish Vermont was on the top of the list, but I think we would be in dead last. Here is what Facebook fans thought.

Jake Mally - Colorado…. Ski until noon head down the hill to the links get nine in before sundown.

Kate Hughes - Got two more peeps planning to order a driver!!!

Kate Hughes - Minnesota!!!!

Bigg Jon Vic - I would argue that if the mid-west didn't have the winters they do, it would be Wisconsin hands down. We have the best 19th holes in golf! But because of the winters, I would have to say Florida or California.

Nick Pollard - AL

John Wheeler - florida

Dave Price - South Carolina

Keith Millard - Depends on the time of the year, Michigan has more public courses than any other state, however 5 months of the year you can't use them. Up North Michigan golf is unmatched.

James Ramsey - Alaska

Randall Stroupe - Florida definitely

Miguel Slowvick - AZ!

Will Merritt - Florida

Andrew Williams - Not even close

Andrew Williams - Florida for sure

Bill Standley - The State of Confusion!

David Thomas Culpepper  - South Carolina hands down!

Michael Metzger - Where else can u go ski and drive 45 min and play 18

Michael Metzger - Florida or cali, meanwhile in Colorado at 45 degrees and the course is clear were playing

Jeffrey Pedroza - Arizona

Chris Sims - Texas after they get to hit the Grenade!! pull the pin!!

Patrick Zmuda - The state of relaxation

Robert Crovetti - Myrtle Beach SC

Golf Crate - Arizona!

Dimitri Schenk - Europe!

Jason Sampson - Texas!

Shannon Weichel - Florida

Bill Blackden - Florida, 365 days a year

Johnny Wyman Riser - South Carolina

Andrew Patch - Florida and south Carolina.....

Matt Kramer - The Mitten. Hands down.

Alexander Campbell - Id love to say n.y. but the weather is not the best rite now..

Bruce F Moulton Jr. - Florida

Donna Paulette Alumbaugh-burdett Florida

Edward Hohlt - Ha California, winter hasn't hit us yet

Josh Ross - Gotta be Florida. Arizona and South Carolina would be close too maybe.

Dwight Lewis - Fla

Craig Knox - Arizona

Steven Kendrick - Arizona

Douglas Camacho - I dont know ..but i want to move there

Phillip Maurice Albert - Florida Arizona South Carolina California Michigan in that order

Landon Black - Cali?

Get your BombTech clubs now!

 

Want to learn more and improve your swing? Join our BombTech Golf Academy!

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What golf rule do you hate?

Posted by Tyler Sullivan on

What golf rule do you hate?

Life is about rules and so is golf. Most of the rules are for the good of the game. Whether it increase speed of play or promotes fair play, rules are part of it.

Although rules are apart of the game we all love. I asked our Facebook fans, "What golf rule do you hate?"

Here is what our fans said. In no particular order.

Stephen Lin - Being in divot in middle of the fairway

Mike Hallee - Can't fix a spike mark in your line!

T.J. Knapp - Cart path only, haha!!

Foster Jonathon - 14 clubs

Landon Black - Cart path only, if that counts.

Mark Medwed - Cart path only because u have to carry extra clubs to your ball. Also slows down the game.

Dave Bach- you have to get it in the hole !

Nick Dicandia - Cart path only.. Hate it..I'm lazy

Eddie Galvan - Can't ground your club in a hazard.

Duane F. Pruett - Out of bounce rule

Paul Childers- Keeping track of my score. .. I feel like I'm doing awesome then boom I look at my score card.

Scott Good - 14 Clubs what?!!!

David Povey - Yup have to agree with Stephen Lin, divot in fairway should never be penalized!!

Max Graves - COR limit on drivers

Chris Jackson -Can't use a foot wedge

Devin Keester -No practice swings in the sand

That is the top answers from our Facebook fans. But, what do you think. Is there a golf rule or rules that you hate?

Let us know and thanks for reading.

Get your BombTech clubs now!

 

Want to learn more and improve your swing? Join our BombTech Golf Academy!

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Do you play better golf after a few drinks?

Posted by Tyler Sullivan on

Do you play better golf after a few drinks?

Golf is a difficult enough game sober, but do you play better after a few drinks. For us average golfers, it is common to have a few drinks during a round. But could it possibly help you play better golf. For most of us, the answer is no. I believe alcohol will certainly not help you play better but it can have a calming effect. This could calm nerves that normally would be exposed when sober. But does that lead to lower scores.....

I asked this to our 7,000 Facebook fans and here is what a few of them said.

What do you think?

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Want to learn more and improve your swing? Join our BombTech Golf Academy!

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Steel golf shafts vs. Graphite golf shafts

Posted by Tyler Sullivan on

Steel golf shafts vs. graphite

As technology changes, so does our options. Steel was the only option years ago, but now graphite has become the standard material for golf drivers. Where as steel still is most popular for golf shafts in irons, wedges and putters.

Let's talk about the few things to consider when looking at steel golf shafts vs. graphite.

The first graphite shafts that were released on the market were extremely high torque and were tough to hit with accuracy. As the technology has improved so has the performance. Tighter graphite weaves and higher density products have allowed for lighter graphite golf shafts that can be swung with speed and accuracy.

It is very unlikely that you will find any new golf drivers with steel shafts as an option. The added weight can't offer the same distance potential as graphite. The only golf clubs that I would consider having the debate of steel versus graphite for is your irons or even putter.

I currently game a set of irons with steel shafts but have been considering switching to graphite. Although they will be lighter than steel, I am looking at a "heavy" graphite option. The new technology allows golfers to swing their irons with ease and still maintain low torque and head twisting at impact. For irons, I would ask the question, why not graphite?

Steel and graphite are now not the only golf shaft options now available. Newer shaft options such as Grafalloy BiMatrix and UST Frequency Putter shaft combine both graphite and steel. These combination shafts are an attempt to offer the best of both worlds. I have personally tested the Grafalloy BiMatrix and have had good results with torque and accuracy but lacked distance of a pure graphite shaft. Bubba Watason currently plays a combo shaft which works well for his game.

Bottom line...Graphite is king in woods and steel is dominate in irons, putters and wedges.

Get your BombTech clubs now!

 

Want to learn more and improve your swing? Join our BombTech Golf Academy!

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