Killian Clear, 2016 CSU mechanical engineering graduate, has only just moved into his new house. Climbing the stairs reveals that he’s already quite settled in – multiple 3D printers are at work in what he calls the “manufacturing center”. In a closet nearby, six more printers sit idle, intended to go to future collaborators as his company grows.
He’s printing the Courserover, the brainchild of Clear and his business partner, Tomas Martinez, a 2020 mechanical engineering graduate. It’s a golf bag with 3D printed components, a plastic cylinder with wheels for mobility and a custom topper to hold tees, clubs, and drinks.
Martinez met Clear through his older brother, and took an internship in the spring and summer of 2020. When COVID-19 hit, work dried up and the internship fell through, but Clear invited Martinez to the other project that he was working on – Courserover.
“I remember he called me like ‘hey, I don’t really need help anymore because everything’s slow, but I have this other thing I’ve been working on, this project for golf’,” Martinez said. “He’s like ‘do you play golf?’, and I say ‘yeah, I love golf’.”
Clear and Martinez’ shared experience with the game turned out to be valuable. According to Adjunct Professor Bert Vermeulen, who invited the two to present in his Technology Entrepreneurship class in Spring 2022, this experience is key to Courserover’s success.
“They are users of the product themselves,” Vermuelen said. “They needed something like this, so they already understood what the alternatives were.”
Vermuelen also consulted with Courserover, assisting in patenting their work.
Clear funded the first summer, but Martinez used the golf bag as his senior design project, earning a $3,000 venture funded grant. The team also presented their idea at the Venture Rams Business Showcase, winning second place and an additional $1,500.
“I think when [Tomas] decided to make this his senior design and we got a grant, then we were both like alright — we’re going to actually try and give this a lot of effort,” Clear said.
Scott Van Hoesen, going into his senior year of a Mechanical Engineering major, has also been given a 3D printer to go into production. He is also working Courserover into his senior design project, testing and iterating the bag’s design and the production process.
“This year during senior design I hope to utilize the resources provided by the university to finalize the Courserover design and end the year with a bag ready to be manufactured on a large scale, ready for sale,” Van Hoesen said.
The bag was designed with shorter golf courses in mind, aiming to be an affordable option for people looking to try golf for the first time. It holds 9 clubs, making it appropriate for courses consisting of par 3 holes.
“I wanted to make golf more of a sport that anybody could look at and say ‘yeah, I’ll try that’,” Clear said. “I realized that golf is cool, but it’s pretty intimidating to get into. It felt like a really exclusive sport. And it’s expensive too.”
“[Tomas] introduced me to the product during his senior design and I immediately loved the idea,” Van Hoesen said. “I was new to golf and thought it was the perfect product for someone like me looking to casually start playing.”
Although Courserovers are already available for sale on their website, Killian and Tomas are not yet aiming for sales beyond friends and family, who have made up most of their client base.
“Honestly, when we get a sale through the website, it’s kind of like ‘dang it’,” Clear said. “Now I have to go make it, and it takes a little while to make one.”
“Right now I think we kind of hesitate with sales because we definitely are still in the prototyping phase,” Martinez said. “We have things break, we’re still working out some kinks.”
“One funny thing was that we put the wheels on the wrong way, so the nut would actually unscrew itself while you rolled it,” Clear recalled. “There’s just these little things that you don’t find out until you try.”
The team is working hard to streamline the design before 2023.
“Hopefully by next year we’ll have different materials for the tubing, different manufacturing processes,” Martinez said. Van Hoesen is key in finding where these changes can be made, a fresh set of eyes on the bag.
“We’re gonna go to the Colorado Golf Expo,” Clear said. “We did that this February. We didn’t get a booth or anything because they’re kind of expensive, we just walked around with [Courserover] and a lot of people were like ‘What is that? Where did you get it? That thing is pretty sweet.’ We’re thinking next year we’re going to try and get a booth.”