ELKINS, W.Va. — Just when we think that everything worth anything has already been invented, along comes something new that makes us say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
A case in point: SafeTees pouches for golfers.
The SafeTees pouch is a pocket golf tee holder, and it was invented this past year by George Moore, a Randolph County resident and golfer, George Moore.
In October 2015, Moore had a mishap with a 2 ¾-inch golf tee on the 14 th hole at the Highlands at Fisher’s Mountain, near Franklin, WV.
“It was my turn to tee off. I was playing well. I was excited. I was animated. I also was too quick to reach into my pocket for a ball and tee. I felt a stabbing pain in my right ring finger. I pulled out my hand, and a tee was dangling from the finger. And there was blood.”
According to Moore, he muttered something like “darned.” Then a thought struck him: There should be something to safely hold tees in a golfer’s pocket.
He says that when he got home that evening, he spent a couple of hours searching the Internet. He couldn’t find anything like what he envisioned.
He drew a rough sketch of a pouch that would hold several golf tees, and the next morning, it occurred to him that he wanted something like a shirt Pocket Protector that holds pens and pencils.
He returned to the Internet and searched for “Pocket Protector.” That led him to Erell Manufacturing Co. in Elk Grove Village, IL.
The company boasted on its Web site that it was one of the first manufacturers of the Pocket Protector and still makes them. What the company said next was even more encouraging.
Erell: “Providing quality products and developing partnerships with our customers remain the cornerstone of Erell Manufacturing Company, as it has for over 68 years.”
Moore fired off an email to the company, and a short time later, the company president, Randy Silton, a grandson of the founder, responded. Moore explained his idea, Silton liked it, and that was the start of their cyber business relationship. They worked together over the next 11 months, communicating only through emails and, occasionally, the UPS.
In June, Moore formed a corporation – SafeTees Pouch, Inc. – (“I’ve never done anything like this”) and there were seven prototypes before he was satisfied.
“The pouch had to be clear, so a golfer can see which tees are longer and which are shorter. Most golfers use short tees on par-3 holes. “We also needed a special vinyl that would maintain surface adhesion with repeated use. Randy came to the rescue and offered four possibilities.”
Moore says, “I tested them all, and we settled on a special clear, heavy-duty vinyl that resists punctures and has a relatively high coefficient of friction, thus gripping the tees securely.”
The pouch is 3 inches by 3 ½ inches, accommodates five tees of various styles and lengths and fits comfortably in the pocket. The bottom half of the front of the pouch is smooth, allowing for the clear imprinting of words and logos. The pouch is packaged with a display card printed by Ralston Press in Buckhannon.
Moore says the feedback from golfers has been overwhelmingly positive. The hardest adjustment, he says, is remembering to put the tee back in the pouch after teeing off. (Pulling out a tee or inserting one into the pouch can be done easily while walking to or from the tee box, so it doesn’t slow play, Moore says.)
Pouches started rolling off the production line in late October, and Moore and his wife, Marilyn, have set up an assembly room in their basement. They’ve also been busy selling SafeTees pouches at area holiday craft shows.Marilyn is handling the bookkeeping end of the business, and the entire Moore family is busy getting the word out on Facebook, eBay and the company Web site (www.safeteespouch.com). Pouches are popping up all over – California, North Dakota, Colorado, Illinois, South Carolina and Texas, as well as in West Virginia.
The retail price: $5.
Moore’s promotional literature says the pouch eliminates “some of the pain from the game,” and he says “it works as advertised.” He adds that he’s used one for 15 rounds, and there’s never been a problem with loose tees in the pocket.
“The hardest adjustment for the golfer is to remember to put a tee back in the pouch after teeing off, but that’s an easy new habit to pick up. And the best thing: The tees can’t hurt you anymore.”
He says, “Every time I use the pouch, I marvel at how clever it is.” He adds with a wry smile, “I never, ever, say, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’”
Moore is an unlikely golf accessory inventor. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in mass communications from Texas Tech University.
What’s more, he didn’t begin playing golf until age 65. “I’m a retired newspaper guy, and I worked 10-12 hours a day six days a week for years. No time for golf.”
That all changed at retirement and after a son-in- law dragged him to a driving range one afternoon. Moore hit several balls with a borrowed club … and the rest is history.
He lived in California at the time, so it wasn’t hard finding good instructors and good courses. A friend invited him to play in a tournament, and that’s when he connected with three other men. A foursome was born, and Moore and “the guys” played at least once a week at courses throughout California.
He’s often asked about this handicap. His response: “Lack of consistency.”
He and Marilyn, a native of Elkins, moved from California to Elkins five years ago, and the past two summers, Moore has worked part-time in the pro shop at the Elks Country Club.
Moore says he thinks golf is a metaphor for life in general. “It teaches you how to handle the various real-life situations we all face at one time or another. I think I’m a better person, husband and father, for having played golf.”
He adds with a chuckle that whenever he says he’d like to play golf on such and such a day, Marilyn typically responds, “I think that’s a great idea.”
Moore, who just turned 76, notes that golf is about the only sport a person can play into their later years. He says he’s known golfers who play into their 90s, and he’s even played with an elderly golfer who carried an oxygen tank.
“He was a retired San Francisco firefighter, and he had bad lungs. So on the golf course, he’d lay the oxygen tank on the ground, still connected to it, mind you, and hit the ball. Then he’d pick up the tank, hop in the golf cart and do it all over again. He was a great guy, and not a bad golfer.”
What’s ahead for SafeTees Pouch, Inc.?
Moore says, “Well, the Lord has brought us to this point, and He’s going to continue guiding us. A secret goal of mine is to be able to make a significant
contribution to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital some day.”
Pouches will go up for sale at Amazon.com in the not-too- distant future, he says, and there also are plans to sell the pouches worldwide.
“There are 60 million golfers, and over the next five years, I’d like to see us reach a tenth of them.”