Scott Haack has found a way to turn sports into his business.
Now, the Jackson High School alumnus is taking his business to reality television. Haack, who graduated from Jackson in 1988, appears on the current season of "Driver vs. Driver 2," a Golf Channel series which follows the journey of aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to develop the next world-class driver from Wilson Golf.
Having created a variety of golf products, including the CoreLinks golf swing training device, now distributed and sold by Kick X Golf out of California, Haack has been in the golf business for a while now in addition to being president of ChiroPro Consulting. But he traces his line of work in the sport back to his time growing up in Jackson and the years that immediately followed it.
"My dad started me playing when I was in fourth grade, but it wasn’t really one of the things I wanted to do," Haack said. "I didn’t understand it and didn’t know many kids playing it. But it was something my dad and I could do together and I would play a lot going forward."
After graduating from Jackson, Haack went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in sports science from Malone University and continued on to graduate school. Golf remained part of his life, but his time on the links declined and when his daughter was born in 2003, he then went five years without playing. He did attend what was then known as the World Series of Golf at Firestone Country Club and that experience gave way to one of his golf inventions, a device designed to aid golfers in developing good muscle memory to benefit their swing form.
He saw some players try to accomplish the same mission by pinning a tool under their arms, but keeping the towel there was difficult. His answer was a dual reel system with connections that made it functional and practical.
From there, other golf inventions followed and yet, Haack’s connection to the sport weakened a bit when he lost his father.
"My father passed away in 2015 and when he passed … my playing partner was my father," Haack said, explaining that he hasn’t felt the same desire to get out on the links as a player since then.
When he was playing regularly, he was able to get his handicap as low as eight, but as any golfer knows, not playing regularly is one of the surest ways to lose your form and as a result, inventing golf-relaid devices became the way Haack stayed linked to the sport that had been a part of his life longer than most any other.
He played football at Jackson, but knee injuries ended his playing days and he initially got into power lifting and bodybuilding, although neither was a long-term activity. Being able to help golfers with their game through inventing proved to be enjoyable and to date, Haack estimated that he has come up with about 30 products.
When the chance to audition for "Driver vs. Driver 2" came around, he recognized it as a good opportunity to make additional business contacts and get his name out there more, whether he was eliminated early on or went on to win.
"One comments I make on the show is that being on it is a capstone moment of my pro career," Haack said. "How many people get to appear on TV for something they developed? I like that it’s not just submitting an idea, but there has to be something unique about your product … and maybe something unique about you. I’ve developed a lot of friendships through the show and I’ve also learned what it’s like to put makeup on for TV."
When he was sifting through ideas for what he should submit to the show, Haack narrowed his approach down to a pair of designs for a driver. One was more traditional and fit more with the way golf equipment is designed today, while the other was "more radical." The first, he reasoned, could be good enough to win, but ironically, may not be unique enough to earn a spot on the show. The second was more divergent from the norm, but Haack admitted that it can be tough to know what direction the golf equipment market will go in next and the more unique design may not resonate for that reason.
He also tried to get a feel for the show, which was tough because he hadn’t seen its first season and learned about it - and the chance to apply - from a co-worker. The link to apply came in late, just six days before the submission deadline, so it was a rush to get his pitch together in time.
As one of 14 finalists, Haack was flown to Wilson Sporting Goods headquarters in Chicago where most of the episodes were taped. The contestants were initially divided into two teams and half were eliminated in the first week of the show, with the others winnowed out over the course of seven episodes. PGA pro and golf equipment reviewer Rick Shiels, nine-time NHL All-star Jeremy Roenick, and Wilson Golf president Tim Clarke were the judges for the show and evaluated each contestant’s driver as it progressed and was developed.
Although Haack’s driver didn’t make it to the final three - Evan Hoffman, Tim Slama and Jimmy Huynh are the competitors who reached the last round and made the trip to Lake Tahoe for the last episode - he enjoyed being part of the show and is looking to take the exposure he gained from the project and use it as a way to move his golf equipment business forward.
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