|A comedian who golfs more than 100 times a year, Mike McDonald is moving into the golf business with his "World's Funniest Golf Balls." (Courtesy Mike McDonald)|
Becoming a successful comedian is no small feat, especially when your peers are such comic all-stars as Stephen Wright, Dennis Leary and Lenny Clark. But after 25 years working his trade, Massachusetts comic Mike McDonald has established himself as a true success in the difficult field.
So why is it that all McDonald wants to talk about are his balls?
"My plan on this earth is to get everyone everywhere talking about my balls," McDonald said in a telephone interview.
Actually, there's a simple reason - McDonald has come out with his own line of comedy golf balls, and like his comedy career, it appears this venture will also be a success. At very least, his "World's Funniest Golf Balls" will be good for a laugh.
It started around a year ago, after a friend came to him with an idea for a novelty golf ball with ears stamped on. You know, so the ball could "hear" you when you're screaming at it to stay out of a hazard, or break an extra inch after a putt. McDonald was unimpressed. Forgetting who he was dealing with, the friend said the magic words: "What, you think you could do better?"
A year later, the "World's Funniest Golf Balls" have proven that, yes, as a matter of fact, McDonald could do better.
"I came back with Axis of Evil golf balls," said McDonald. "Then I came up with the Chosen Balls. As it turns out Jews have a great sense of humor."
McDonald then went to work, using friends and former colleagues for help with things like box design and artwork, to go on to produce an entire series of novelty golf balls, all of which are playable and come in a package that's literally dripping with jokes.
There's the Hit Man Golf Balls, which are promoted as "The balls you love to whack" and even include participation from an actor who was on the "Sopranos" (remember the clumsy bartender at the "Bada-Bing" who Tony used to smack around? Yeah, that guy).
It's been a costly but fulfilling venture for McDonald, who said his work in show business helped him navigate the tricky business of creating and marketing a new product.
"In the comedy world, I have to produce shows. Some of my background in comedy and producing shows, where you juggle a lot of things, those skill sets paid off," said McDonald, who started with an initial run of 12,000 units, which include three golf balls inside the colorful and joke-laden boxes.
Aside from the money he's invested out of his own pocket, McDonald says he had to pass on comedy gigs in order to work on his project.
"I've spent about $40,000," said McDonald of the golf balls that sell for $14.99. "That's going on stage a lot of times, unless you're Jerry Seinfeld. But you won't see Seinfeld doing this."
The balls came out three months ago, and McDonald is already seeing success. USGA approved, they're now available in gift shops around New England, and McDonald said he's extremely close to closing a deal with a "big" retailer. Still, McDonald - a lifelong golfer with an 11 handicap - is looking for bigger things.
"Golf is supposed to be fun," said McDonald, 50. "You know, you go to a tournament and you get your grab bag, and there's some Top-Flites in there and a bag of Skittles. Instead of the Top-Flites, you get the Axis of Evil balls. It's something funny to start the morning."
Talking with McDonald, you can see it's a labor of love, as well as a hunt for profit. After all, combining his favorite activities - golf and comedy - can't be a bad thing.
"At very least, I'll be able to write off my golf for the rest of my life. I'm a manufacturer now," said McDonald, who was preparing to pitch his product at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. "But if I get this to be the perfect storm, I'll be a very happy man."
You can order a set of the "World's Funniest Golf Balls" at ComedyGolf.com and find out more about McDonald's comedy career at MikesComedyNetwork.com.
January 17, 2008
William K. Wolfrum keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. You can follow him on Twitter @Wolfrum.
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