Business With A Heart

New Hampshire native gives back after health scare through launch of 3 Up Golf

BY WAYNE MILLS

New Hampshire native Rob Zimmerman was rolling along with a nice life in April, 2012. Only 34, he had a family, a great job as a software engineer and a membership at the private Nashua Country Club.

But his life changed on a cold, dreary day.

Zimmerman was playing golf, carrying his bag as he always did, when he suddenly felt pain in his left shoulder. He finished the round, went home and told his wife, Danielle. She advised him to see a doctor. He put her off.

He felt shooting pains in his left arm at the driving range the next day. Again he told his wife. Again she advised him to see a doctor. He said he would in the morning. He never made it.

The pain became so intense in the middle of the night that Danielle rushed him to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with a heart attack brought on by a severely clogged artery.

“I was 34 and I wasn’t ready for that. It was a life-changing moment,” he said.

After a month spent recovering and reflecting on his life, he experienced his “aha moment.”

“I want to get into the golf industry. Life is way too short to not do what I want,” he told Danielle.

And so he began 3 Up Golf.

As an engineer, Zimmerman wanted to design his own product. Despite an already crowded market with intense competition, he kept thinking about golf balls.

“We thought a premium ball, at a value price, sold directly to consumers might just be successful,” he said

In 2013, Rob and Danielle teamed to form 3 Up Golf, the name inspired from the way Zimmerman marks his ball for tournament play with three green dots, along with the idea of being 3-up in a match as a positive sign.

But the Zimmermans didn’t want their company to be just another commercial venture.

“A charity component was already on the table before we even decided on the product,” Rob said. ”I wanted to give back in appreciation of surviving my heart attack and having the chance to live a normal life. We decided that a percentage of our proceeds ($3 for every dozen balls sold) would go to charity, just as is done with Newman’s Own food products.”

It sounded like a great idea. But they still needed a product.

“I wanted a three-piece urethane ball,” he said. “We found a manufacturer who let us modify their stock offerings, but I didn’t like anything they had. I always played the Titleist Pro V, but wanted something softer, so we thinned out the cover and lowered the dimple count.”

Thus, the 3F12 ball was born.

The target group for the 3F12 is the low to mid-handicapper. “It is really designed for a player who can put his tee ball in play so he can attack the green. Our ball is all about soft feel, lower trajectory and controlled spin rate,” he said.

The 3F12 has been approved for tournament play by the United States Golf Association and is being used across the country and into Canada.

The success of 3 Up Golf has led the Zimmermans to launch a new two-piece golf ball and expand their support staff. It was expected to be ready for market in late summer.

“It’s a lower compression two-piece Surlyn ball that’ll be great for the mid-to-high male handicapper as well as for ladies and juniors,” he said.

Zimmerman recently hired local star Lisanne Schmidt, a former New Hampshire junior state champion and a runner-up at the state amateur.

“When one of the top golfers in New Hampshire inquires about joining 3 Up to contribute, you listen,” Zimmerman said. “When it turns out she’s a great writer, a Pinterest junkie, and an avid Instagram and Twitter poster, you ask: ‘When can you start?’”

Since launch, 3 Up Golf has contributed more than $4,000 to charity. Among the beneficiaries have been Golf Fights Cancer, Golfers Against Cancer, The First Tee of New Hampshire and the McDonough Scholarship Fund, a longstanding New Hampshire institution that provides college scholarships to employees at New Hampshire golf courses.

The company is now on its fourth production of golf balls and is turning a profit. Golf balls can be purchased on its website, at various New England pro shops and Golf & Ski Warehouse.

If there was ever an example of doing well and doing good at the same time, New Hampshire’s 3 Up Golf is it.

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