Rocket man trying to lift golf to new heights
By Matthew Kimel
Journal sports editor
At first, Shawn Kelly was not impressed.
The Ridge golf pro had never heard of rocketry golf until two weeks ago and was witnessing it firsthand Wednesday on the 433-yard first hole at the Auburn golf course.
It appeared that the rocket club being used by Doug Frost of Lake of the Pines had fired a lightweight replica golf ball just a mere 200 yards from the launch pad sitting in the tee box.
Frost was disappointed with what he saw and said he was “embarrassed.”
But after Kelly drove off in his golf cart to retrieve the balls, the pro was awed.
Frost, who is trying to re-launch his patented Rocketry Golf brand, wound up coming close to the green on all three of his launches. One landed on the green, while the other shots were past the green and off to the right by about 20 yards.
Asked if he was impressed, Kelly said, “I am now. I wasn’t when I saw it take off.”
Kelly thought he’d be competing against Frost on Wednesday, but Frost wasn’t prepared for a little man-vs.-machine action out on the links yet after taking some 23 years off from playing his self-invented sport. Apparently he hasn’t practiced his short game.
Under the rules of Rocketry Golf, Frost must putt when he gets within 40 yards of the hole.
Frost, who taught rocketry at a San Jose-area junior college and worked for NASA out of high school, invented Rocketry Golf in 1978. He patented it in 1989, and put his clubs on the shelf until 2011.
He’s currently trying to lift the popularity of the relatively unknown game.
“I’m overdue to get this going,” said Frost, a retired postman who used to work in Silicon Valley and Grass Valley. “The world deserves a game like this. It’s too much fun to leave in my garage.”
Frost has not sold a single club, but said it would cost one about $150 to play a round of rocketry golf. The clubs, which are based off of model rocketry, are safe to use outdoors, Frost said.
His launch pad, based off of a tripod, features a protractor to keep his shots at a 45- or 60-degree angle. He said he’s never lost a hole against a human golfer, although he’s only played eight holes. He hopes to go against Kelly in the future, and possibly host a tournament with a monetary prize going to the winner.
A PC Rocketry Golf game is also in the works.
Frost has never recorded a hole-in-one but he has scored a birdie on a 320-yard hole with a two-putt.
With a driver, Frost can hit the ball about 200 yards. With a rocket, he can surpass 800 yards. He believes his rocketry game is much more on par than his golf game.
“I’d whip myself (with the rocket),” he said.
For more on this obscure sport, visit rocketrygolf.com.