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Softgolf History & Timeline

Softgolf History & Timeline

1974...

  • Raymond Baldorossi Sr., A design engineer at Martin Marietta (Lockheed Martin), observes his son, Ray Jr., hitting a 4” souvenir basketball with a golf club at their home in Orlando Florida. After hitting the ball well, Ray Jr. exclaims, “Dad that would be cool... golf with a big ball!”. Senior starts designing clubs and balls the next day.

1975...

  • After a year of experimenting with different types of balls, Ray Sr. settles on a lightweight closed-cell foam with an outer vinyl skin to bring the weight upon the ball. The 4 3/8” diameter ball has no dimples and travels about 50 yards on a good hit. Simultaneously he has developed 5 large-faced clubs (different angles).

1976...

  • March... Ray Sr. builds molds for 5 professionally designed clubs and makes models of them for casting purposes by handcrafting them using wood and molding putty. He also starts playing around with different ball designs with a variety of sophisticated dimple arrangements. 
  • May… Ray Sr. and his wife, Blanche, start writing technical descriptions of the equipment and rules of the Softgolf game. He presents a rough sketched concept of a logo to his son-in-law, John Czajkowski, and asks him to make the logo. 
  • June... Ray Sr. designs a Softgolf ball-making machine. Ray and his son build it together. The ball machine is made completely out of repurposed parts from the 1960s (washing machine, skateboard wheels, pipes, scrap metal, and circular saw.). The machine still cuts a perfect sphere to this day and was last used by Ray Jr. in February 2021 to make a prototype of “The Ball” (a highly durable ball that plays well and can be mass-produced) Once the ball machine is completed, they go to work making a lot of balls in their hand-dug basement. It takes an hour to make each ball with 75% of the time going into applying several coats of vinyl to it. The ball machine is used often throughout the 1970s and 1980s because each ball only lasts for a few months.
  • Fall... Blanche and Ray Sr. apply for 5 patents.
  • Winter... Over 300 balls are completed and they start making mass quantities of various sizes of clubs for people of all heights. The process to make the specialized clubs takes about 45 minutes per club. They decided to go with 3 clubs per set because the difference between hitting the ball with the longest club and the shortest club is only about 20 yards ... the two clubs that are designed to hit the ball distances between that are eliminated.  

1977...

  • February... While still making clubs, they also start making club carriers out of PVC pipes.  This too is a process that takes about an hour to make. So the total time it takes to make five clubs, the ball and the club carrier is 4 1/2 hours (excluding preparation work like building the ball machine and making the molds for the club faces). 
  • Summer... All of the patent requests are denied and have been denied twice. They have to rewrite the applications and resubmit it to the US patent office. They have successfully completed making over 200 sets of clubs and carriers of various sizes.  The clubs and cases are being painted an assortment of colors to help determine size.
  • Fall... Their applications for five patents have been denied for the third time. While they are somewhat frustrated, they have good reason to believe they will eventually be awarded their patents. With all the balls, clubs, and club cases completed, the production team (Ray and Ray Jr.) start focusing on making the holes scorecard stands, tee off markers, and signs.

1978...

  • Summer.. After two years and applying 4 times, Blanche and Ray are finally awarded the first of 5 patents.  They have a party and introduce Softgolf to their friends. 
  • Ray and Blanche have been searching for a location for their first Softgolf course. They settle on a par 3 course in Delran, NJ.. They sell the home they have shared for 21 years to their son-in-law and move to Burlington, NJ. (John Czajkowski still lives in the Orlando house with the handmade pool and basement to this day).

1979...

  • July... For the first time ever Softgolf opens and is introduced to the world. 
  • September... Softgolf has the first World Softgolf Championship.

1985...

  • Summer... Ray Jr. moves from Florida to take over as operations manager. 

1986...

  • Softgolf has grown ever so popular and there are now lines of people waiting to play Softgolf seven days a week.

1988...

  • September... After 10 years of operating in Delran New Jersey, the landlord opts to sell the property and does not want to renew the lease. The Baldorossi Family discusses moving Softgolf to a new location but ultimately decides to focus on finding a ball that they can mass produce. There are a dozen entities interested in Softgolf franchises; however, they know that they need to have a ball that will last more than three months in order to scale. 

1999...

  • Ray Jr. finds a new type of foam. He and his father are able to make three lumpy prototypes from the sample he acquired. After a lot of testing the new ball proves to be highly durable but it cannot be mass-produced and it’s challenging to make a decent-looking professional Softgolf ball from it. The prototype type is still holding up well after 22 years. 

2005...

  • Both Rays continue to research and test new foam materials and developments. Ray Sr. Is diagnosed with a rare terminal disease. 

2007...

  • December 30... Raymond F Baldorossi Sr. passes away. A few months earlier Ray Jr. promises to find the perfect ball that has high durability, plays well, and can be mass-produced. 

2008...

  • The ability to blow mold a closed-cell foam is discovered and patented.  This means the Softgolf ball has the ability to be mass-produced. 
  • Ray Jr. comes up with the idea to keep the darkness of the ground, illuminate all the equipment for night play. He also finds a more durable outer coating to apply to the ball. He begins experimenting and testing ideas to make solar-powered equipment and course. 

2009...

  • Ray Jr. starts producing new glow in dark balls and clubs. Soon after, he designs and makes the light-up holes, flags, and scorecard stands. All of the equipment for a solar-powered Softgolf course is completed by the fall of 2009. 

2011...

  • November... For the first time since September of 1988 Softgolf opens at Plantation Palms golf course. Softgolf utilizes the course at night only when conventional golfers are not playing.

2011- 2014...

  • Softgolf continues to operate on various golf courses at night time when they are normally closed. The process of setting up Softgolf on the fairways of commercial golf courses involves four hours of setting up in three hours of break down just to operate for a few hours at night. By 2014 Ray knows the popularity of Softgolf is once again thriving and it is time to find a permanent location.

2018...

  • After almost a year of many meetings with Forsyth county (North Carolina) officials, Softgolf opens for a 10 day trial period at Tanglewood Park. 
  • Fall ... Softgolf signs a 3-year contract (starting in 2019) to operate at Tanglewood Park. 

2021...

  • Never complacent, Ray Jr. continues to make improvements and invent new unique fun activities. One of his more unique ideas is a talking hole that jokes around and makes fun of players' games.
  • In February Ray achieved a huge milestone by developing 2 prototypes of “The Ball”. He is in the process of acquiring new patients. The Softgolf course at Tanglewood Park continues to grow in popularity and the night golf has proven to be especially popular. Softgolf continues the tradition of hosting the World Softgolf championship every year. There are four age brackets in men’s and women’s categories as well as a wheelchair-bound division. 

Blanche Baldorossi is currently 93 years old and still enjoys playing Softgolf.  Ray Jr. has named the World Championship trophies in honor of his parents. The male winners receive the Raymond Baldorossi Sr.  trophy and female champions receive the Blanche Baldorossi trophy. All of the trophies are presented by Blanche.

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