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As an inventor, Jimmy Rosa has experienced a "Rocky"-like journey. He got knocked down, but kept getting back up and didn't stop swinging. And now, his creation, The Balanced Golfer, which is tailored to the most vital element of developing a consistently good golf swing, is on the verge of becoming a hit.
"My phone's blowing up, and when I make phone calls, they pick up," says Rosa, a Bensalem resident. Having struggled for five years to market and sell his invention, Rosa's breakthrough came when he got the endorsement of Lee Westwood, now the world's No. 3-ranked golfer. Westwood taped an infomercial for the product, which sells for $49.95, and has gained widespread credibility in the world golf community.
It is being newly packaged and presented for better exposure in retail stores, including Golfsmith and Edwin Watts Golf. It's also available online at www.thebalancedgolfer.com.
The Balanced Golfer is designed to helping golfers maintain balance throughout their swing. It's a simple, lightweight board, a golf swing training plane designed for a golfer to check and correct his or her balance, the key to improving accuracy and distance. When a golfer takes a swing and the board is pressed to the ground in front of or behind the feet, it indicates the golfer's swing wasn't properly balanced. The position of the board helps the golfer specifically locate where balance was off, making it easier to correct.
Martin Hall, one of the world's top teaching pros, said in a testimonial: "Everyone should learn on the Balanced Golfer."
Another top teaching pro, Bob Thatcher, said: "The easiest teaching device to help you with your swing that I've ever used."
The product is radio show GolfTalk Live's product of the month for November, and in January, Rosa will do a major launch of it at the Professional Golf Association's trade show in Orlando and the Honda Classic in Palm Beach.
For an underdog such as Rosa, 48, this is quite a heavyweight comeback after absorbing some significant blows. He grew up in Fall River, Mass., and spent six years in the Navy, taking up boxing while in the service. Rosa moved to the Delaware Valley near a buddy and began working in the fitness industry as a salesman and trainer. In his own training, Rosa liked to jump rope, but found extended periods of jumping rope end with tripping over the rope. So Rosa developed one that disconnected in the middle, called Easy Jump.
Not versed in marketing, Rosa had trouble selling it and later was beaten to the punch. Another company did it, and the rope became a hit. It was a major body blow, but Rosa wasn't done swinging.
He took up golf and became interested in the mechanics of a consistent swing. The key question he asked himself: ‘Why are the best the best? They all use different clubs, so it's not the clubs, it's the guy holding the club. So what do the best do to control the club?
"Balance means control. If you're in balance, and you're in control, that means every single time at impact, the club face is going to be in the same spot, same position. When you're in balance, you can actually control the clubface at all times," he said.
Rosa dug into research, went to PGA events, talked to the pros. He came up with a balance board, and took his idea to friend Tom Kaechelin of Levittown, who designed one weighing two pounds and made of a sturdy polymer. It could accommodate golfers of all weights, and would be durable on grass, sand and turf.
Rosa said he knew he had something good from the outset because Hall and Butch Harmon, Tiger Woods' former swing coach, both liked it.
But it was hard creating public awareness with limited funds. Still, his hunger for success made him persist.
"I need a celebrity to put some eyes on the product," he told himself.
Enter Chubby Chandler, super agent of PGA golfers, whom Rosa approached at the Honda Classic last March. Chandler gave the product to Westwood, one of Chandler's top clients -- Westwood loved it.
Then Rosa found some investors. Meanwhile, an infomercial is airing in Japan, and he says more wholesalers and retailers are interested. "With the new packaging and everything, more people are aware of it. We keep making it and taking orders," Rosa said.
His advice to aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs: Be careful with your money when trying to market your product. He considers himself lucky that he didn't have a lot.
"Treat it like you don't have any money," he said. "Everyone gives you advice and you pay them. I learned every aspect of the business, with no middle man, and spent the time to learn."
Dan Dunkin: firstname.lastname@example.org