How the pandemic’s golf boom inspired one woman to take up the game — and invent a new swing aid

Doreen Raftery invented KlockIt Golf when she took up golf during the pandemic.

Courtesy of Doreen Raftery

Until a couple of years ago, Doreen Raftery had no interest in golf.

As a wife and mother, Raftery’s days were filled with family obligations and the responsibilities of running a cafe and catering business in her home state of Massachusetts.

But after 20 years serving customers, the pandemic forced her business to close. Around the same time, Raftery’s husband, Steven, retired from the fire department after 32 years.

“It left me with a lot of time on my hands,” Doreen said of the shakeup during a recent chat on the phone. But, she said, she believed that from every bad comes good. And for the Rafterys, the good turned out to be an introduction to golf.

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“We took up golf like three million other Americans in 2020, and we decided to hit the links,” she said with a laugh. “The only problem was I was an awful golfer.”

Doreen discovered that she struggled to keep her eye on the ball through impact. In an effort to practice at home, she searched online for a suitable training aid but found the selection to be minimal.

That’s when Doreen decided to take matters into her own hands.

“I grabbed a pair of ladies’ nylons, a golf ball, and a spike, and I put it into my backyard. I stuck it in the ground. And I would use that every day to help me keep my head down, to focus, to swing,” she said. “Everyone thought it was just the greatest thing.”

Doreen’s invention enabled her to take full swings hitting a real golf ball without having to worry about where the ball was going. The spike anchored the nylons, and Doreen found she was able to focus on the ball through impact instead of feeling the need to lift her head to look up too soon.

Doreen continued to make tweaks to her prototype, and ultimately produced KlockItGolf, which hit the retail market in January and is currently available for purchase in GOLF’s Pro Shop.

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“I go out and I try to take a few swings every day. And I do have to say it has improved my game,” Doreen said of KlockIt. “I no longer whiff the ball. My game is completely different. And now at least I have the confidence to get out on the golf course.”

One of Doreen’s favorite aspects of her product is its potential for multiple uses. Golfers of any level can benefit from it, and it can be used as a warm-up tool as well. The fact that the KlockIt features an actual golf ball, as opposed to a plastic or whiffle-style ball, is another detail that Doreen believes sets the product apart.

KlockItGolf is now a full-time gig for both Doreen and Steven, who already have another game-improvement product in the pipeline. The new product is similar to KlockIt, but suitable for indoor use.

“We didn’t want to be a one-hit wonder,” Doreen said.

Given the momentum the Rafterys are currently riding, it appears that’s highly unlikely.

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jessica marksbury

Golf.com Photographer

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.