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Golf Ball Beeps for Errant Shooters

March 1, 1993

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ William Barnhill put his inventive talents to work for a practical reason. He was tired of losing golf balls.

Barnhill, who works in an electrical supply warehouse by day, has spent his spare time for the past five years inventing, reworking and perfecting what he says is the first audio golf ball.

″I got introduced to golf by a friend, and the first time I went out I lost all 12 balls that I’d paid $20 for,″ he said. ″That gave me the idea of developing a ball that’s easily located.″

Now, after investing $100,000 in development, the 29-year-old inventor and his partners in Protech Enterprises Inc. hope to mass-produce their Trakflite Sonic Golf Ball.

Barnhill said his research showed there are 24 million ″average″ U.S. golfers, who probably also lose their golf balls, an indication that there might be a huge market for his invention.

The Trakflite, a regular white golf ball, has a modified core that holds a small battery, an electric circuit and a beeper. When struck by a golf club, the ball emits a high-frequency sound that can be heard up to 100 yards away. The sound can be silenced after the ball is found, Barnhill said.

Convinced he’s got a product that will be successful, Barnhill has been making the rounds of golf industry trade shows to introduce the Trakflite.

At a retail price of about $20, Barnhill said he expects the Trakflite initially will be a novelty item. But he said the product has benefits that should broaden its appeal.

For example, Barnhill said, the Trakflite could speed up play and help golfers avoid taking penalty strokes for lost balls.

″We’re proposing to revolutionize the sport,″ he said.

He still needs $500,000 more for full production of the Trakflite, but Barnhill said he’s talking to prospective investors and believes he’ll have the money soon.

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