Interlocking Panel Base
I first patented the concept of an interlocking panel base in 1999. When I looked at the market, there was a void when it came to an easier way to make quality sport systems accessible to a broad customer base, and a panel base system seemed like a logical approach. The panel had to far exceed the expectations of the installer and win the praise of the customer. What started as a new product became its own product category. A new systematic way of delivering, direct to the customer’s location, high quality sports surfaces was conceived. We had now set the course for the next generation of “on demand:”
- Golf Putting Greens
- Game Courts
- Bocce Courts
- Golf Tee Lines
- Athletic Fields
- Event and promotional play areas
Bring it to the Troops
Nearly ten years ago I had the privilege of sending a dozen of our Tour Links® pre-packaged putting greens to soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan during the second gulf war. I called the initiative Operation Desert Green. I cannot even begin to tell you the sense of pride my staff and I experienced knowing we were doing our small part in helping our combat troops. The response from the soldiers was overwhelming. Our story was aired on CNN Headline News and that launched a wave of requests from military personnel, family members and high-ranking officials from all branches of the armed forces. It was apparent that the soldiers were desperate for sports entertainment, and it was our duty to make it happen. So, we made golf accessible to the troops with our panel base system. Our system was:
- Easy to set up
- Easy to store when not in use
- Easy to ship
- A realistic experience
More Opportunities Mean More Sales
So what did these panels really mean for the bottom line? In other words many asked, “What’s in it for me?” The answer was clear to us. Give an event promoter, installer or designer a solution to logistical barriers and the sales will increase. Create a portable sport system increased the opportunity for selling more turf or courts. The market was waiting, and the panel solution allowed for those new opportunities.
In 1993, I designed and built the first interactive fan participation area in a stadium which we called “Fan Land.” The Tampa Bay Lightning was playing in a large stadium built for baseball, and I was given the challenge to make the remaining floor space an exciting experience for fans. If we could get fans to the stadium earlier, that would translate to:
- More concession dollars
- Increased apparel and merchandise revenue
- Less parking lot congestion
The secret to the area was the realism we were able to create. From kicking an extra point field goal to taking a few swings in the batting cage, testing your skill on a slap shot in the hockey zone to sinking a 50 ft putt, panel technology made it all possible.
It seems like a lifetime ago that I stood at the entrance of Fan Land with the Lightning owners waiting anxiously for the fans to arrive. We all believed in the famous phrase, ”If you build it they will come,” but I also knew my job was on the line if the fans didn’t show up. And show up they did! Hundreds of fans poured in to our sports zone. The next day the Wall Street Journal wrote an article on the future of the fan experience. We were a hit! From Miami to Buffalo our panel system concept was bringing sports to the masses on their home turf.
These are just a few of the examples of how the dream of making sports more accessible to the masses culminated in multiple United States and International Patents being issues for my panel base technology. We set out to change the lives of a few soldiers and have changed an industry forever.
It is with great pride that I look at the temporary transformation of a natural grass field in to a synthetic turf masterpiece hosting a college bowl football game or the hospitality tents of the US Open where corporate sponsors test their skills on one of our synthetic turf putting greens.
My dream is coming true! We are turning areas covered with broken glass and dusty soil into temporary and permanent fields, courts and play areas. Empty rooftops are now becoming areas for kids to play their favorite games, parking lots are hosting sports tournaments challenging the skills of athletes throughout the community . When recreation and leisure facilities are easily accessible to all kids, we will have accomplished our mission.