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Launching a golf product to clean up

Mark Spencer and Ron Borgese have launched a

Mark Spencer and Ron Borgese have launched a business making and selling what they call the BizMark, a small device that allows players to mark and clean their golf balls. (June 7, 2011) Credit: Howard Schnapp

With $4,000, a patent and undying passion for a little white ball, Massapequa residents Ron Borgese and Mark Spencer risked it all to launch a new golf product: the BizMark.

"Everywhere we go, we hear it all the time. What is that?" said Borgese, 46.

"Basically it's a portable device that allows players to mark their ball and clean it, which can improve putting performance," said Borgese. Marking the ball keeps it from being confused with those of other players.

"Sales have been growing exponentially. We started with a few hundred, then sold 1,000 in April and 7,000 in May." says Spencer, 39, who maintains his wireless consulting company while pouring everything into manufacturing BizMarks.

Heading all aspects of the startup at its Westbury facility, from design and quality control to business development, Spencer thinks they're on to something big. "Once a golf ball or golf product manufacturer catches on, the possibilities are endless. Everyone plays golf, and who wouldn't want to improve their game?"

The BizMark is a 2-inch, round-shaped ergonomically designed ball cleaner that fits easily in golfers' hands and pockets. It can put a customizable mark on the ball -- anything from a name to a corporate or country club logo.

The two friends met more than a decade ago on the same green where their "lightbulb" moment struck. "About a year ago, we're playing golf on the 15th hole at Brookville Country Club as Ron was cleaning off his golf ball by licking his fingers and wiping the ball on his pants," Spencer explained. "Ron said, 'Eeeeew,' and we looked at each other -- that's it! A ball cleaner."

Borgese explains many serious golf players use a wet towel -- carried by a caddie or tied to a golf bag. That can be messy.

After literally sketching on napkins over lunch at the Asian Moon restaurant in Massapequa, Spencer, who had never designed a product before, was obsessed, he said, with "getting it right." He went home and on his dining room table created a prototype out of aluminum foil.

After an unveiling at Orlando's PGA show in January, they have  made 10,000 ball cleaners, which are selling fast at $4.99 each in a variety of colors: blue, red, green, white -- even chrome. Customers say it's a reasonable price point.

Borgese and Spencer initially went into full production with another friend, Chris Sonner, 44, of Huntington, making BizMarks by hand using glue and custom-built panel board. Now, they are producing thousands through a variety of manufacturers in Bay Shore and Bohemia, with dozens of distributors worldwide.

The BizMarks have been used in golf tournaments across Long Island with sponsors such as Winthrop Hospital, Morgan Stanley, The Viking Group in Copiague and Joseph Eletto Transfer in Hicksville.

Marian Wafer, who has been running the Clark Gillies Celebrity Golf Invitational in Huntington for 15 years, ordered 200 BizMarks, which she said patrons enjoyed. "It's a unique product that you can easily customize. People were talking about them and trading different colors."

Borgese, who had owned a computer chip equipment distribution company, said, "We decided to create, manufacture and sell the product right here on Long Island. The bottom line is we're keeping our eye on the ball while keeping it clean."

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