ORLANDO, Fla. -- BirdieBall president John Breaker was explaining his product to me, but I couldn't help staring up at the giant Golfzilla air target looming overhead and thinking how much more fun practice would be if I could smack golf balls at an inflatable reptile.
"This is such a key feature now," Breaker said of the inflatable air targets. "The kids will be there for hours."
So will the adults.
Golfzilla features four targets -- one in the mouth, one on each hand and another target on the belly.
Breaker said Golfzilla is a hit at schools, corporate events and driving ranges. One of his customers set up a Golfzilla 150 yards out on his driving range and gives away a new driver to anyone who can hit a golf ball in Golfzilla's mouth.
Not surprisingly, this guy has been selling a lot more range balls. Breaker's first golf product was the BirdieBall [right], a limited-flight practice ball that looks like a napkin ring and flies about 40 yards. It was named best instruction product at the 2005 PGA Merchandise Show.
After the BirdieBall, Breaker realized people needed targets to hit. So his company created small targets that can be set up anywhere. The next step was inflatable air targets.
First they had an inflatable skeeball target. Like the arcade game, BirdieBall's skeeball had three different holes of various sizes -- the smaller the hole, the more points you get.
Next came Golfzilla. The dinosaur has become a popular attraction at parties and events, as well as at driving ranges and clubs. Breaker said banner advertisements can also be displayed across Golfzilla to give businesses more bang for their buck.
But Breaker said the company's bread and butter is still selling BirdieBalls to schools. He tried to sell BirdieBalls in stores, but soon realized it's hard to sell his product if people can't try it out.
"No one believes a napkin ring will go 40 yards," he said.
According to Breaker, more than 6,000 schools use BirdieBalls in their gym classes and after-school programs. He said the BirdieBalls introduce the game to kids in a new way and makes practicing a whole lot of fun. It's no wonder then BirdieBall has been a hit with the PGA of America, which is trying to boost participation in the game through its Golf 2.0 program.
"This has really helped kids understand the game of golf," said Liz Breaker, John's daughter. Check out the video below to see Golfzilla in action, or go to birdieball.com.