One day in 2007, as Randy Bowman pulled into his home’s driveway, he found his younger brother, Michael Bowman, staring down deep in thought.
Michael Bowman stood where the concrete expansion joints met, which emulated a crosshair pattern. He wondered aloud whether they could develop a similar crosshair laser golf alignment aid that could be used outdoors.
At the time, Randy Bowman — a retired 20-year U.S. Marines veteran — had a comfortable job in the oil and gas industry. Even though he was a self-proclaimed hack, he loved golf. He also believed players could benefit from a laser-type aid. That’s when the internal entrepreneurial voice started nagging him.
In the ensuing three-plus years, he and his brother read anything they could get their hands on about lasers, holograms, LEDs and other related technology.
“When I started, I didn’t know anything about lasers other than you could mess with a cat [with them],” said Randy Bowman.
By the end of 2010, the brothers found an engineer who developed six prototypes of what eventually would become Sqrdup, an instructional golf laser aid that claims to improve accuracy across all facets of the game. An award-winning swing alignment tool, Sqrdup assists players with accurate positioning and invaluable adjustment feedback for their feet, hands, club and target. Moreover, it can also be used as a helpful guide in creating repetitive putting strokes.
Believing in the product so much, two years ago Randy Bowman told his wife it was now or never. Either the product gets off the ground or it doesn’t. Either way, he didn’t want to look back and say, “what if?” So sans his brother, Bowman pursued the venture alone. He quit his pipe valve purchasing position and convinced his wife to sell their Denver-area home before moving to Georgia, to be closer to product development.
How does the device work? For starters, Sqrdup is lightweight. It’s designed as a 6-inch crosshair square that’s only 1 ½ inches thick and weighs just 8 ounces. The visibility of a green laser beam, which sits at an angle on a tripod, provides a fixed line to help golfers visualize their alignment.
The green lasers, built by a respected Frankfurt, Germany company, are visible in full daylight and can work on any type of terrain from fairways to deep rough. There’s also little fumbling. The device, powered by a rechargeable battery, can be set up quickly and easily moved by foot or golf club in seconds to get the perfect alignment.
Along the way, there have been surprises and setbacks. Naming the product comes to mind. It’s more convoluted than one would think. The product was originally spelled the proper, phonetical way, yet Bowman soon ran into an issue.
“When we went to register for the website, we found someone parked the name,” said Bowman, the CEO. “So I found the guy and asked him if he was using it. He said, no, but if you send me $15,000, it’s yours. Thanks, but no thanks we said.”
Bowman maxed out credit cards, secured personal loans, dipped into his own savings and 401k, borrowed from investors and looked bankruptcy in the face. He even applied to the entrepreneurial TV show Shark Tank and made it to the second level, all in the name of promotion and investment gain.
“When I look back at all the things I didn’t know, I just continue to add to the things I didn’t know,” said Bowman.
The accolades have grown, too. The product was recently recognized with a 2019 Golf Digest Editor’s Choice Award in the category of Best Training Aids. Dr. Jim Suttie, 2000 National PGA Teacher of the Year, and Ted Simons, executive vice president / chief operating officer of Nicklaus Academies, also have endorsed it.
Sqrdup has partnered with PGA Tour player Cameron Percy and Grant Price, a PGA teaching pro.
“Sqrdup is simple, lightweight and extremely functional,” Price said. “This is not just a product to improve solid golf fundamentals but can be used to help visualize start points and lines on the greens as well as enhance your stroke at home, the office or at a hotel when traveling. It is a must-have product to aid players at all skill levels.”
Suttie is quoted on the company's website: “Research has proven that 85 percent of golf swing learning is visual. This being the case, the Sqrdup alignment tool does a better job giving feedback on your alignment than any tool I have used in my last 40 years of teaching.”
With all the sweat and tears he has put into it, Bowman knows the product like the skin on his bones. Sometimes, though, there are still surprises.
“I heard from one teaching pro who said that he went out just before dusk and projected the beam 62 yards to a flag on the driving range and worked on his wedge game,” Bowman said. “When he told me that, I thought there was no way. I went out myself and you can project it more than 100 yards. The brighter the light you’re using, it makes it harder. Indoors you can go as far as you want.”
Bowman admitted that “putting is the area people see the quickest improvement,” adding he has a video on his cellphone that shows him making 26 of 27 putts from 10 feet. Of course, the device provides the line, but the more important point illustrates the repetitive stroke players learn.
While in the testing phases, he tagged wife Jennie and 5-year-old nephew Jacob. He wanted non-golfers to demonstrate that it works. His wife became a believer immediately, thinking “this thing” would never benefit her, said Bowman. With Jacob, he moved a ball from 5 to 8 feet within a hole on a green, turned on the device and watched as the child sunk his last six shots.
“Tell you the truth, if I knew how hard this was going to be, how high of a hill to climb up, I never would have done it,” said Bowman. “But it is a good product.”
The company’s ultra-bright laser beam alignment aid kit is available on its website for $199.
Ken Klavon was the online editor and a senior writer at the U.S. Golf Association for 12 years. He has covered golf for 24 years.