We've heard of RoboCop, but there's a new robot in town. RoboPutt, a self-service kiosk that gives putting lessons, is free to deploy for owners of golf facilities.
Machines are installed at no charge, with the understanding that the profit will come from lessons sold, said Gil Sery, Chief Information Officer of RoboPutt.
"The profit potential for a golf facility with a RoboPutt unit is conservatively $2,000 a month," he said.
RoboPutt launched last month at the 2011 PGA Merchandise Show in Orldando, Fla., and plans to distribute locally by May and internationally by October.
"We have received a lot of interest from over 120 golf facilities, and even one casino," Sery said .
How it works
The golf pro or shop owner enters the golfer's personal data, and the computer helps the golfer develop his stroke that is recorded on a card equipped with a magnetic strip. Golfers use their own putters with RoboPutt, but the machine actually performs the swing, allowing players to feel how to properly move the club.
"All other training devices make you move the putter, but now RoboPutt does it for you," said Joe Sery, RoboPutt's CEO, a mechanical engineer and former vice president of engineering at Carbite Golf and Gil Sery's father. "This is the best way to develop muscle memory, gain confidence and love putting."
The golfer can use his card loaded with his personal data for future lessons on any RoboPutt in the world and won't need help from an employee after his initial visit.
RoboPutt uses a headset, so golfers can listen to putting tips and advice. And since the putter is moving with or without the golfer, he can release the putter and experiment with unlimited posture and stance options to find the one that best suits him, Joe Sery said
"Have you ever noticed how each professional golfer has his or her own putting stance? "Now you can find yours," he said
Gil Sery said golfers can buy 5-minute lessons from the kiosks for less than the cost of a sleeve of golf balls. The price of lessons, negotiated between RoboPutt and the venues hosting machines, usually ranges from $5 to $20. The shop owner keeps 35 percent of the revenue and RoboPutt keeps the rest. However, the company also pays shop owners a negotiated fee for the time it takes to measure a golfer's swing metrics, encode them onto the magnetic card and register the golfer with the RoboPutt database, all of which are necessary to use RoboPutt.
Although the amount of money RoboPutt drives in will likely vary from location to location, Gil Sery said the minimum goal is around $700 per month.
"Much less than that and it's not worth our while to keep the unit there," he said.
Sery also said his staff would repair any problems with the kiosks or deploy new machines if necessary. However, he doesn't expect many malfunctions.
"The robot has been designed to withstand a lot of use, so we don't anticipate a lot of fixes. We've seen to that with the endurance testing we've done," he said.
For pros and novices
The kiosks are not strictly designed for the masses. A professional golfer may also buy her own customized RoboPutt for $25,000.
"That golfer will be invited to a special session during which all his or her swing metrics – swing plane, swing radius, putter lie angle and putter length – will be taken," Gil Sery said. "We will also record him making a 10-foot putt and upload that stroke data to the robot using a proprietary, custom-designed swing data recorder called Digi."
Gil Sery said he hopes RoboPutt will also inspire new golfers.
"Our secondary market is universities and colleges, where we hope to put some units to benefit the next generation of golfers," he said.
Click below to watch how RoboPutt works.