Ophthalmology Times - August 15, 2012 - (Page 34)
AUGUST 15, 2012 / Ophthalmology Times
Invention a hole in one
Dr. Joe Lee’s indoor portable golf net gains grip with worldwide attention
By Carol Patton
In the swing f things
Los Angeles—Back in 2011, ophthalmologist Joe Lee, MD, invited his wife and two small children to witness something spectacular. While wearing helmets, they stood in their home’s recreation room—holding their breath—as Dr. Lee hit a golf ball with his favorite 8 iron into an innovative golf net that he designed. Dr. Lee is an inventor. Though he has performed more than 60,000 LASIK surgeries over the past decade at Lasik Eye Center in Los Angeles, he also holds six U.S. patents— all in the area of refractive surgery—and another for an adjustable corneal ring, which contained strands of material that would correct a person’s vision. Although the ring never materialized, he never stopped thinking about those strands. “I’ve had those curved strands in my mind’s eye for the past 17 years,” Dr. Lee said.
To see Dr. Lee’s golf net in action, go to http://ow.ly/d2ux2 to view a video.
Joe Lee, MD—tired of hearing his buddies joke about his poor golf form, but never having enough time to practice the sport—designed an indoor portable golf net (SwingBox) that works with ropes and tension to catch and return golf balls.
Catch me if you can
Every inventor tries to design a better mousetrap, or in Dr. Lee’s case, a better golf ball trap.
Joe Lee, MD
Phone: 310/874-6638 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Getty Images/Photodisc/Jill Fromer ; (Video courtesy of Joe Lee, MD)
Three years ago, he found the perfect application. Tired of hearing his buddies joke about his poor golf form, but never having enough time to practice the sport, he used the basic principle behind those strands to design an indoor portable golf net (SwingBox) that works with ropes and tension to catch and return golf balls. Since then, he formed his own company, SwingBox Inc., which has sold hundreds of golf nets at $450 each, and has high hopes that it will become the most popular indoor golf net in the world.
“The device’s front interface uses ropes that are at tension,” he explained. “When the ball hits the ropes at high speed, the ropes stretch apart and the ball goes in, hits the mat on the back, which is 3 to 4 inches away from the ropes, and comes back at a low speed.” Since the net doesn’t take up much space (it can be placed several inches away from a wall), it can remain standing. It also offers audio feedback. After hitting a golf ball, golfers immediately sense if they have hit the ball well or flush, or a little bit fat or thin, because of the thud or type of sound the ball makes off the back mat, he said. Dr. Lee only developed two prototypes before realizing he had struck the right design. After 6 months of working with an Asian manufacturer—sending and receiving thousands of e-mails and visiting the plant several times—1,000 units finally arrived, now stored in a warehouse. However, many have since sold. This past spring, he exhibited his golf net at the PGA merchandise show in Orlando, placed a fullpage ad in Golf Digest, and posted a video of how the golf net works on YouTube that has already received more than 600,000 hits. Part of his advertising campaign targets children, whose parents don’t have the time or money to spend at practice ranges. The golf net is also likely to cross borders since people from Australia, Belgium, China, and Denmark have inquired about distributorships. Meanwhile, Dr. Lee’s golf buddies are no longer laughing at his form, which he said
ÔIt all started with my original idea of a corneal ring. That idea died, came back to life, and was reincarnated as a golf net.Õ
Joe Lee, MD
has dramatically improved since he began practicing his swing with the golf net. While now a better player than Charles Barkley but not quite as good as Tiger Woods, he did score a hole in one with the golf net. “I love tinkering,” Dr. Lee said. “It all started with my original idea of a corneal ring. That idea died, came back to life, and was reincarnated as a golf net.”OT
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