BACKGROUNDER

Joseph Manieri started to play golf in his early thirties and he knew he had a lot of catching up to do with golfers who started perfecting their game much earlier in life. In search of every excuse possible to play year-round while living in the Northeast, Manieri found himself looking for ways to practice, especially during the long winter months of the off season. After years of investing in practice and training equipment, nets, clubs and other gear nothing quite fit his training needs. Joe, an entrepreneur with an engineering mindset, set out to create his own, in-home golf simulator environment and HomeCourse™ was born.

THE MANIERI STORY

Having been an avid athlete my entire life, I was always involved in sports. In my early thirties, I accepted an invitation to play a round of golf with a buddy. I fell in love with the game and 

Joseph Manieri

never looked back. You could say I became a bit obsessed. I began investing in every and any training apparatus from pop up nets, gimmicky clubs that promised to remedy everything. After years of searching for products that didn’t meet my needs or the vision I had for the perfect training aid, I decided I’d build it and ultimately developed HomeCourse™.
My goal was to create a golf training aid that would allow me to practice anytime that worked with my schedule, allowed me to use a real golf ball and had a project-ability factor to pair with my simulator. I also wanted a product that would take up little to no space and offered easy accessibility. I developed a prototype right in my garage and paired it with the simulator I purchased. I’d play a few holes almost daily and after using it, I saw a dramatic improvement in my game. Then, I started to invite close friends and family over to use it and nearly everyone asked how they could get their hands on one. Their reaction and enthusiasm put me on a path to filing patents and launching HomeCourse™ at the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, FL. Within one year of launching, HomeCourse™ has achieved global sales to golfers on nearly every continent.
Golfers know getting out on the course frequently enough to improve their game can be a challenge due to time and weather constraints. HomeCourse™ is a product I use almost every day and I’ve seen a significant improvement in my game as a result. The fact that I can now offer a product to golfers and pros that allows them to continue to perfect their game, as well as inspire others interested in golf to fall in love with the sport is very rewarding and satisfying.

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You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
To put it simply: customer satisfaction. The stories we hear from our customers on how HomeCourse™ is improving their game or how they’re having fun with friends and family using the product is extremely gratifying.
How long did it take to create the product from idea phase to actual creation?
It took a great deal of patience. It was a journey that took several years. It was roughly 7 years before we introduced HomeCourse™ to the marketplace.
What differentiates your product from the competition?
The retractability factor. HomeCourse™ is also fully wireless and remote controlled operated. Within roughly 30 seconds, you can convert any room into a driving range or simulation bay and when you are done, with the click of a button the room returns to its original space. That is a true differentiator.
Suggested retail costs for the HomeCourse™ Pro Screen is how much?
HomeCourse™ retails for $1,999.
Describe who your customer is?
Individual golfers and sports enthusiasts of all levels of play from novice to pro. We are also getting a great deal of interest from the Country Club circuit. HomeCourse™ allows members to play indoors in inclement weather and given the retractability of the screen it can be stored away when not in use, so it’s a product that can be used universally to practice, train or just to have fun.

Plenty of companies fixate on the importance of customer service. Define the term and how you go about doing it?
Customer service has and always will be our number one priority. We are deliberate in connecting with and building relationships with our customers. The HomeCourse™ team sends me the name of every customer and if a question comes up, in almost every case, I personally pick up the phone and talk to them directly. My discussions have resulted in a lot of invitations to play a round of golf together and that means a great deal to me. When you purchase our product, you become part of the HomeCourse™ family, and we care about the user experience and value their business.

How do you gauge customer feedback and what roles does it play in future product developments?
Customer feedback is extremely important to us. We listen to our customers and take their feedback seriously because it helps us to further refine and evolve the product. Through their insights we can enhance and incorporate design elements into the system and that will continue into the future.
If you change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
Pace of play. In today’s environment, time is of the essence. Being considerate of other golfers is key to speeding the game along, so we not only have time to enjoy the game we love, but also have time to spend with family and friends off the course. That’s why I think HomeCourse™ helps fill a need – it makes playing or practicing convenient and also helps save time with warming up before going out on the course or giving you access to play anytime.
The major golf organizations — USGA, R&A, PGA of America, PGA TOUR, LPGA — are all seeking ways to attract players to the game. This is especially so regarding Millennials, women and minorities. If you were advising them — what would you counsel they should be doing?
Make the game more exciting, accessible and less intimidating. Millennials are looking for a convenient and more of a high-tech experience. As for women, I have a wife and 16-year-old twin daughters who were all very hesitant to play. Their primary concern was feeling like they didn’t have the skills to get out on the course – it was more a confidence thing for them versus a love of the game. I believe we need to focus on giving women the opportunity to play conveniently, access to practice building their confidence and introduce the game to them early in life. Also, it is rare to find mentors who will introduce you to the game through a school environment. That is why I strongly encourage schools, especially in the inner cities, to consider introducing golf as part of their physical education programs. The game teaches you respect, discipline, integrity, problem solving, sportsmanship and many other lessons. It’s not just about the athletic factor only — it’s a game that teaches valuable life skills.
Outline the short and long-term challenges you’re facing as company and what you see as the plan to address them?
In the short term, addressing demand is a challenge. While this a good problem to have, we are focused on expanding our inventory to meet the high level of demand for the product by broadening our manufacturing channels. Today, our customers mount their HomeCourse™ unit to the ceiling or wall. In the not too distant future, we will offer a portable rack that allows the unit to be moved from room to room or outdoors with a mobile rack. We expect to introduce the portable rack for sale in the coming months. Longer term one of the challenges will be the continued evolution of technology and customization. We are addressing this by constantly working with our design team to bring our customers a product that keeps up with the pace of change.

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For more info go to: www.homecoursegolf.com