AlignItUp Points the Way to Better Golf
Darien businessman helps golfers – and investors – improve their game
Angelo Imbrogno loves golf. And like most golfers, he’s always looking for ways to improve his game. In 2007, he found a way.
He also found a new business in Darien – AlignItUp.
“My putting was terrible,” explained Imbrogno, picking up a golf ball. “See this line here? This is what is supposed to be the alignment tool, where you line up the ball so that you can putt into the cup. The problem is, it is too small; you can’t even see it. A lot of golfers take a marker and they draw a line that’s much bigger that they can see. But that’s kind of a hassle.”
His solution was simple. “We developed the first arrow alignment tool,” he said. “Manufacturers put the marketing dollars into the logo, not into what actually helps the golfer. I’m doing the opposite. Our logo is the alignment tool. You use the arrow to line up your putt, (to) get a more exact line to the cup. It’s professionally imprinted, so it’s never going to fade or smudge like markers will.”
Imbrogno experimented before finally settling on the current design. A double-tailed arrow makes it easier to line up. The website name – www.AlignItUp.com – is printed in each of the two tails. The arrow is the largest possible with the current technology.
The original arrows were blue. Later, red arrows were added. AlignItUp now offers arrows in a variety of colors to match manufacturers’ logos.
“We have imprinted golf balls for every major brand,” Imbrogno said. “You name it, we’ve got them all.” He’s also added brands as requested.
Imbrogno’s friends helped test his design. Their response was overwhelmingly positive.
“Seasoned golfers like it because it’s big; they can actually see it,” he said. “Golf pros use it as a teaching tool (on) proper alignment.”
Imbrogno also tested the marketplace. “I had a bunch of golf balls made, and I sprayed them throughout every golf course on the way to work,” he explained. “I had clients on vacation (across the country). I said, ‘Here are two-dozen golf balls, and don’t come back with them. Just spray them and give them out.’ We’ve had hits on our website from just about every state now.”
In 2010, Imbrogno bought a booth at the Chicago Golf Show at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. Within 30 minutes, he sold his first sleeve of golf balls. For the next three days, his booth was a hub of activity. As he showed a ball to one family, their teenaged son suddenly exclaimed, “That’s the golf ball! You’re the guy! I used your golf ball but couldn’t find another one.”
Imbrogno continued to brainstorm new ideas.
“(Businesses) can put their logo on one side and the color-matched arrow on the other,” he said. “So when they give them to their clients, it’s not a generic golf ball with a logo on it. Everybody gives those away, and those end up at the bottom of the pond because everybody uses them; there’s no value there. But when they put a color-matched AlignItUp arrow on it, golfers tend to hang on to them because it’s their cherished putting ball. So they hold onto it five to 10 times longer.”
Imbrogno also participates in charitable golf outings. His giant golf ball with the sponsor’s logo is always a big hit.
“We take pictures of every golf attendee that comes in,” he said. “Then we give people who run the outing pictures of all the attendees. They get kind of crazy sometimes, and we do contests for best picture around the golf ball.”
AlignItUp also provides a covered tent and drawings for free balls. Their most recent events have been with UPS and United Way, and Illinois COPS/Woodridge Police partnered with Special Olympics.
Imbrogno’s primary occupation is financial advisor. He is the founder and owner of Blue Diamond Group in Darien. This work and his love of golf often intersect.
“I had the chance to meet Mike Ditka at an annuity conference. Out of 500 financial advisors, 50 were able to meet him and take a picture,” he said. “I know Mike’s a big golfer. When I went up to take the picture, I pulled a sleeve (of balls) out of my coat pocket.” Imbrogno explained the arrow to him. Ditka was impressed. Imbrogno was thrilled.
Are these balls legal in tournament play? The answer is yes.
“You can’t alter a golf ball,” Imbrogno explained. “You can’t put wings on it to let it fly farther. And you can’t put weights on it to help counter your slice. But you can mark a ball any way that you want. Our motto is, ‘Your ball just got better.’
“I’m just an average guy with an above-average idea,” said Imbrogno. “That idea will help you improve and enjoy the game more.”