My background has 30+ years of management, technology development, and financing expertise from successful companies including Qualcomm and Four11 (Yahoo). I founded and ran numerous early-stage technology companies and has been mentoring start-ups for 14+ years at MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service. Served on the board of Telio, Norway’s fast growing VoIP provider through their IPO and currently on the board of Amelio, a rapidly growing day care business in India. I was also an advisor to FairwayIQ, a technology leader creating innovative solutions in golf course management. Was an early employee at QUALCOMM, the wireless communications technology leader, where I grew from an engineer and program manager to eventually lead wireless data initiatives. As CEO and founder of Momentum, Inc., I’ve set strategic direction, successfully led the financing efforts and was the visionary and spokesman for this early developer of portable client-server technology. He also advised Four11.com, an Internet email innovator, through its acquisition by Yahoo.
As a golf enthusiast and entrepreneur, I always wanted to combine my passion for the game with my business experience. I got that opportunity when I partnered with my good friend Tim Tierney, PGA teaching professional at Weston Golf Club in Massachusetts, to create what we feel is a game-changing training device.
Tim has been my instructor for many years and his insight into the game and the golf swing is second to none. He was mentored by the legendary Ken Venturi who himself had been mentored by Byron Nelson. The key to his teaching is his dedication to what he knew is the single most important fundamental to great ball striking – your head must be in the proper position from address through impact.
As an MIT engineer with extensive experience in wireless technology, I knew I could create a device that would allow golfers to feel the concept of proper head position. Tim and I created Tour Pro Tech, LLC soon thereafter and after several prototypes and feedback from hundreds of golfers and instructors, PowerPlane™ was born.
PowerPlane™ has recently launched via our website and we are thrilled with the initial response. We are looking forward to introducing this revolutionary concept to the entire golf community at the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show.
MATT WARD: What was the genesis in creating PowerPlane™?
RICH KOSOWSKY: My co-founder, Tim Tierney,is an exceptional teaching professional and my coach.Tim was mentored by the legendary Ken Venturi who, in turn, was mentored by two of the game’s greatest legends, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson. Mr. Venturi taught Tim that great ball striking could only be achieved by maintaining proper head position from address through impact. Tim’s 20+ years of teaching experience reinforced that concept as a critical one. As a tech entrepreneur, I quickly developed a prototype and tested it with Tim. His first swing confirmed that we were on to something big. From that point on, PowerPlane™ grew in both capability and effectiveness and has been so rewarding. Usually tech startups develop for a year and then get out to users only to then find out that they missed the mark. With PowerPlane™, we worked with golfers and instructors from day one and it really shows.
MW: Despite a series of major technological gains over the last 25 years specifically with clubs and balls — the state of teaching has failed to effectively reduce handicap levels for men and women beyond a token amount. What’s been wrong with teaching over those years?
RK: Two things come to mind. First, golfers are consumed with too many swing thoughts. It’s overwhelming and with modern technology, too easy to jump from one new theory to another. It needs to be simpler. And second, once a golfer leaves a lesson, they are on their own to practice. A golf swing only improves when the golfer practices correctly – and it’s hard for them to know if they are doing so in between lessons. So, the improvement from lesson to lesson just doesn’t happen the way it should. For the average golfer, PowerPlane™ will help them start to make centered contact immediately shot after shot. For the tour pro, the ability of PowerPlane™ to help them with more advanced aspects of the swing, like maintaining their desired spine angle, establishes PowerPlane™ as a tool for all.
MW: How does PowerPlane™ change the paradigm in teaching golf more effectively?
RK: The major focus of technology development in the golf industry has been on clubs and balls, and on data analytics.There are now a plethora of swing, ball, wrist, weight shift and body trackers. The result is an overload of data, of the “what” that is occurring, and a real lack of the instructional “how” it should be done. PowerPlane™ makes teaching simple and effective by indicating “how”. The only thing the golfer thinks about while using PowerPlane™ is the position of the head. It allows them to focus on the one thing that is most important to solid contact and allows their natural ability to take over. No more guessing if they are practicing correctly. PowerPlane™ uses instant auditory feedback to let them know when their head position is incorrect, providing the immediate stimulus necessary to change their behavior and improve their swing instantly. We see a big shift coming from the data overload and complexity of the “what” to the simple behavior modifying “how”.
MW: How much information is needed — and how much is overkill — in getting golfers to improve their overall performance?
RK: As I stated above, we believe the focus has been on data and the “what” golfers are doing. Very few know what to do with all of this information and for an average golfer it is serious overload. Our focus is on creating a simple user experience and utilizing instant feedback to effect immediate change in behavior. As many of our instructors say, their job is to effect change, but if the student isn’t aware of the problem, it’s impossible. You could say PowerPlane™ uses minimal information – a simple auditory feedback loop to create awareness and effect change immediately – yet virtually every one of the hundreds of golfers who have used PowerPlane™ start to make centered contact within the first few swings.
MW: There’s been much discussion in golf in growing the game among Millennials, women, and minorities. How does golf make the shift from an aging male baby boomer crowd to a new audience in the 21st century?
RK: The first step is to broaden the appeal of the sport to these groups. Part of this is occurring with the emergence of new, young tour pros like Rory (McIlroy), Jason (Day), Rickie (Fowler) and Jordan (Spieth). The PGA of America has initiated an amazing Growth of the Game campaign and it is starting to take root and build up junior golf programs nationwide.This is attracting minorities from inner cities and we are now seeing more young girls taking up the game than we have in a long while. The second part is making it easier to learn. Golf is a difficult sport to master, but should not be so hard to become adequate.Tools like PowerPlane™ make it much easier and fun to get started. By getting golfers in the groove and experiencing steady improvement with every club in their bag, they hit more pure shots that keep them coming back, and avoid the misses that lead to frustration.
MW: You can change one thing in golf unilaterally — what is it and why?
RK: Like many golfers, if I could change one thing it would be pace of play. Waiting to take your next shot has a big impact on both enjoyment and performance. To this end, I am involved with a company, FairwayIQ, that is using some very innovative technology to address this issue. Hopefully, in the near future, a golfer will be able to get an idea on how long a round will take and even plan their schedule based on such predictions.
MW: Best advice you ever received – what was it and who from?
RK: My friend and former professor at the Harvard Business School, Bill Sahlman, taught me the concept of making a decision be the right decision. This is a founding principle of entrepreneurship and of any endeavor that requires making decisions with imperfect information (really life in general). You make the best decision you can at the time and then work like heck to be successful with it. This is not to say that you won’t be wrong sometimes, but you really have to believe. When you get a group of dedicated individuals with the same foundation, incredible things are possible.
MW: Are you searching for endorsements from PGA and LPGA players?
RK: Our focus has been on creating incredibly effective, behavior modifying products that are absolutely simple to use, to grow the game by providing a simple route for learning and improving. We have been getting great feedback from top instructors and tour pros and we look forward to helping these professionals with their own swings, with their students swings, and with spreading the word about PowerPlane™ and its benefits.
MW: Do such endorsements still resonate with golfers in terms of product validation?
RK: It depends on the product and the endorser. The exciting thing about PowerPlane™ is its applicability to golfers of all skills. This makes PowerPlane™ a good fit for many tour pros in terms of endorsement. Having said that, we have seen PowerPlane™ improve performance for hundreds of golfers during our extensive beta testing process. So we know it works, as do those who have had the opportunity to use it.
MW: Will you be able to provide metrics that show conclusively how golfers using PowerPlane™ have fared when using the product?
RK: It is relatively straightforward to correlate the effects of PowerPlane™ to measured changes in swing path, angle of attack, overall distance, accuracy and Smash factor. But quite frankly, we haven’t had to because virtually every golfer starts to feel proper ball striking so quickly. All golfers know that sweet sensation when you strike it right in the middle of the face and the ball flies. They can see the improvement in ball flight and trajectory. And they can see the gain in distance that results from being behind the ball at impact, staying centered and balanced to ensure proper weight shift and then compressing the golf ball. When you get into position, you commit to your swing and play with confidence. The results have been game changing. We are extremely confident in the product and how it performs. PowerPlane™ truly unleashes the swing you’ve always had inside you. And with our no questions asked 30-day money back guarantee, why wouldn’t you want to try PowerPlane™?