Global Edition

Sheffield Golf Firm Set to Score with Innovative Robotic Green

9.04am 7th October 2015 - Corporate

Nick Middleton, Managing Director of Zen Oracle, tests his robotic putting green
Nick Middleton, Managing Director of Zen Oracle, tests his robotic putting green

Established by Managing Director Nick Middleton in the 1990s, Zen Oracle began life as a specialist golf equipment company. Following diversification into coaching and, more recently, into performance technologies, the company operates within the elite performance area of golf. Today, Zen Oracle researches, designs and engineers putters which offer players a proven competitive advantage.

With a client base which includes elite golfers and PGA professionals, Zen Oracle’s scientific approach combines all aspects of golf performance, including mind, body and motion. The company operates from offices in Sheffield and has a studio in Rotherham.

In 2013, Nick and fellow director Andrew McCague developed Zen Green Stage, a variable contour putting green which would allow users to perfect the art of ‘reading the green’

The concept was based on an original idea by retired US Air Force Colonel Horace Templeton who first created green reading maps in the 1970s. According to Colonel Templeton, an inability to ‘read the green’ was the biggest barrier to performance. In September 2014, Zen used the same techniques to help create Greens maps at Gleneagles by the victorious European Ryder Cup team.

Nick and Andrew wanted to develop a remote control system through which users could control the contours of Zen Green Stage using robotic technology. They approached the Yorkshire Innovation Fund for help in taking Zen Green Stage to the next level.

With backing from the Yorkshire Innovation Fund, Nick began working with Sheffield Hallam University’s Dr Fabio Caparrelli, an expert in materials and engineering. Together, they designed and built a control system, adding sensors to a platform which would report to the user via a digital map.

The result of the collaboration is a market ready product which Nick plans to sell to sports facilities, golf coaches, elite golfers, clubs and academies. Nick believes that the backing from the Yorkshire Innovation Fund and his subsequent collaboration with Dr Fabio Caparrelli has doubled Zen Oracle’s sales potential.

Nick’s immediate priority is to sell Zen Green Stage in its current form as widely as possible. He is already exploring opportunities to apply the technology to third party products such as golf simulators. His longer term plan is to enhance the technology, allowing users an increased range of experiences.

“Thanks to the Yorkshire Innovation Fund, the team at Sheffield Hallam University gave us a fresh outlook on our future possibilities. The current trend to bring golf inside is expected to continue and we’re ready to capture this growing market,” he said.

Zen Oracle

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