Local Invention Makes Golf Safer During COVID-19

Story by Michael Seguin

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Perhaps no local invention embodies that spirit more completely than Windsor’s Mully Cup Flag Stick.

The product was created by local businessmen Frank Cirino, the owner of Lomar Machine Repair Inc., and David Thibert, a partner at Mega Mold International.

“I’ve been in business for over 27 years in the Windsor area,” Frank states. “We provide services to the tool and mold industry, which is how I met David. He’s a good client of mine. We have a great working relationship that extends beyond our offices.”

As with so many other businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic caused David and Frank’s workflow to stall a bit. However, the two took advantage of the slight lull to develop one of Windsor and Essex County’s most innovative new products: the Mully Cup Flag Stick.

Creators of the Mully Cup Frank Cirino and David Thibert. Photo by Alex McIntyre.

“I’m one of the Chairs of the Golf Committee at the Pointe West Golf and Country Club in Amherstburg,” Frank explains. “When we were going to open up the golf course, we had to come up with a solution to retrieve the ball out of the hole without touching the flag.”

Frank spent weeks looking at the different types of units and materials available including pool noodles, wood handles and inverted cups. Eventually, he dreamed up the idea for an elevator style lifting device with fishline to support the bottom flange.

After several weeks of brooding over the concept, Frank approached his colleague David, who was playing out of Essex Golf and Country Club, with his idea.

“I said, ‘David, is there a way you could form plastic to a 25 thousandths wall thickness at about 16 inches long?’” Frank recalls. “At first, David said, ‘Uh. That’s going to be very tough to do…’”
After explaining his concept in greater detail, Frank was able to recruit Mega Mold into his latest venture.

“Once Frank came to us with a concept, we got our engineering team involved,” David explains. “We started working with 3D models. We said, ‘What do you think about this? What do you think about this?’ We went back and forth with questions. How we were going to hold the two pieces together? How we were going to inject plastic? How we were going to produce it? After we crossed all those hurdles, we built the mold in just over a week.”

“We had to make many changes to the mold,” Frank states. “We didn’t know that there were so many different types of flag sticks out there. There’s half-inch thick flag sticks and two styles of tapered flag sticks. We had to modify the mold four or five times to accommodate all the different types. Once the mold was completed, and with the help of Injection Technologies, we began hard testing.”

“We went through several variations,” Frank states. “Thankfully we were able to salvage the mold and just keep adding to it. We just kept building on top of what we had.”

The Mully Cup Flag Stick is a novel, yet beautifully simple invention. The bottom part of the flag stick rests inside the hole. The upper part pulls the bottom cap up, allowing golfers to retrieve their ball with their putter—all without having to touch the flag.

What’s more, the flag stick allows the ball to enter the hole at 360 degrees, meaning it won’t interfere with the game. The product is made of plastic instead of metal, meaning that it won’t damage anyone’s putter or the course itself if it is removed.

And as with all great inventions, the product was immediately embraced.

“We’ve been receiving great feedback,” Frank states. “We haven’t had any negativity. People have come up to me and David and said, ‘What a great idea you had! I hope it goes well for you!’ There’s tremendous satisfaction in knowing that people have embraced this product so wholeheartedly.”

Perhaps, most spectacularly, Frank and David have continued to encounter their invention on their home turf!

The process of removing the ball from the hole using the Mully Cup Flag Stick system.

“We sold some flag sticks to Fox Glen Golf Course,” Frank states. “I have to drive by there on my way into work every morning. When I look over and see people using the Mully Cup, I get this big smirk on my face.”

“My son works at Seven Lakes Golf Course,” David explains. “When the Mully Cup first got installed, he told people that Mega Mold was part of the development. But the guys he worked with didn’t believe him! It wasn’t until he showed up to work one day with some pieces from our garage that he convinced them that this invention came out of Windsor.”

The Mully Cup Flag Stick has been a phenomenal success, already attracting national attention.

“A gentleman from Bayco Golf out in Winnipeg contacted us,” Frank states. “They’re a distributor of golf course supplies. They asked if they could be our distributor for this product. They have distributors in Canada, the United States and Europe. They felt that they could sell quite a few of them for us.”

“People are already installing it at practice facilities, putting greens and mini-golf courses,” David explains. “That’s making us very excited.”

The Mully Cup Flag Stick also has benefits beyond what Frank and David initially planned for.

“The Mully Cup has uses beyond what we initially anticipated,” Frank states. “A lot of elderly people like the invention because they don’t have to bend over to grab their ball. Even greenskeepers love the product. They’re saying that the greens are staying nice and sharp, since no one is damaging the hole putting their club in it anymore. Everyone’s been so positive.”

While no one can say for sure how far the invention will travel, one can’t deny that the Mully Cup Flag Stick is a homegrown phenomenon that will hopefully remain a fixture of golf courses for many years to come.

“With Injection Technologies on board, we have the capacity to produce enough parts for the world market as required,” David states.

“People are saying that this invention is a game changer,” Frank states. “I think that it’s here to stay!”

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