Softgolf makes a comeback in the Triad for a limited time
*Editor’s note: There was a typo in print; “and his father finally got their wish” was supposed to have “Baldorossi Jr.” at the beginning of the sentence. It has been corrected in the online version. The sentence “Later that same year, tragedy struck” was removed from the online version because it was confusing in context. The size of the balls (which online states that they are 4 3/8 inches) is actually 4 1/2-inches and the prices for admission have lowered to $9.39 online ($10.02 with tax) and $11.24 at the door ($12 with tax).
By: Jocelyn Jones
A new sport is making its way to the Triad. For a short time, Clemmons will be the home of Softgolf, a game that is based on the traditional style of golf but with a twist.
The differences between conventional golf and Softgolf is that everything is bigger in the game, and the rules are a bit more relaxed. The game is played with 4 3/8-inch foam balls ( around the size of a softball), three proportional large faced clubs and 12-inch diameter holes.
While the game itself may not be complicated, the history of the game certainly is, and it goes back over 40 years.
The owner of the new Softgolf course, Raymond Baldorossi Jr., and his father came up with the idea in 1974, and in 1978 got patents for their new sport.
The course opened later that same year and was open from 1979 to1988 in Delran, New Jersey, according to the website.
However, Baldorossi Jr. wrote in an email they had to close in 1988 for two reasons.
“The la flors refused to renew our lease,” Baldorossi Jr. wrote. “Dad and I talked about relocating, we were sold out every night, but we had about eight entities that wanted to franchise, and we had a challenge that kept us from expanding that we needed to overcome. It took one hour to make each ball using a homemade machine (made from old 1960s parts, skateboard wheels, washing machine, saw, pipes) we had to hand cut the sphere out of foam cylinders, hand drill 80 dimples, and add eight coats of vinyl coating to the exterior to bring the weight up. The balls only lasted about three months, so it was a constant battle to keep making new balls while maintaining the rest of the course.”
They decided to put all their energy into finding a durable ball that they would be able to mass produce. By 1997, Baldorossi Jr. finally found a new high-density foam that was the perfect material for the ball, but the father-son duo still was not able to mass produce it.
“My dad passed away on Dec. 30, 2007, but I promised my dad I would mass produce a durable ball and start Softgolf up again,” Baldorossi Jr. said.
Three months later, on his father’s birthday, March 17, 2008, he came up with an idea to not only help save money but to help bring another aspect to the course. He decided to keep the grounds dark and make all the equipment “light up.” He worked on the idea for over three years and opened the course in November of 2011.
“Twenty-three years had passed since we were last open, and I needed to test the market,” he wrote in an email. “This time our competition was video games and cell phones. I used existing golf courses, placing portable scorecard stands and 12-inch holes in the middle of there fairways. I also developed special tools to remove buckets, and fairway grass plugs and replaced them with light up Softgolf holes.”
Fast forward to 2018, Baldorossi Jr. wrote that he is in the process of mass producing balls that “will probably last over 100 years…it is virtually indestructible. NASA uses the same material in space because of its insulation, high elasticity and UV resistance qualities.”
Baldorossi Jr. and his father finally got their wish. Softgolf is in the Triad for an 11-day trial period at Tanglewood Park, located at 4061 Clemmons Rd. in Clemmons from March 29 (opening at 7 p.m.) through April 8. While they don’t have a long-term contract, if this trial period is successful, it could mean big things for Softgolf.
“A long-term contract could merit us installing our solar power system and artificial turf greens,” Baldorossi Jr. said. “We already have them, but it cost a lot to install the green energy products.”
The ultimate goal for Baldorossi Jr., when it comes to Softgolf, is to provide an affordable activity for family and friends and to also introduce the sport of golf to individuals that normally wouldn’t be able to play the sport. He also plans to use the game of Softgolf to give back to the community by hosting several fundraisers for different causes. Baldorossi Jr. plans to purchase golf carts that enable those affected by paralysis to play Softgolf. He also plans to work closely with veterans, and he wrote that children’s charities are also a priority.
“Throughout the development of the new Softgolf concept,” he wrote. “I have had several incidents that have felt like divine intervention. Like my dad and God are guiding me throughout my journey.”
The cost to play the game is $11.24 ($12 with tax) at the door, but $9.39 ($10.02 with tax) if you register on the Softgolf website (www.softgolf.net). The course will be open daily from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. and on Easter from noon to 10 p.m.