ORLANDO, Fla. – During Caroline O’Connor’s tenure at Stanford, the practice range was dotted with sheet-metal targets featuring the logos of the Cardinal’s Pac-12 opponents. When range balls bounced off those targets, the sound was unmistakeable.
“Most ranges lack tangible targets,” O’Connor said. “I wanted to have something you could see and you could hear (the ball) hit.”
Since resigning last spring after 17 years with the Cardinal, O’Connor has kept her hand in the golf industry through her target system. She estimates that she put the targets into practice at Stanford at least 12 years ago. Her players used them mainly for wedge practice, and O’Connor says it was during that time that Stanford had one of the nation’s best overall short-game percentages.
The sheet-metal targets became something O’Connor was known for among fellow coaches because she used them during summer golf camps and during Stanford-hosted events, which is why she decided to branch out with the idea. A handful of college teams are now using O’Connor’s sheet-metal target system, including reigning NCAA Division III women’s national champion Methodist College and top-20 Division I women’s programs such as Florida (No. 5) and Vanderbilt (No. 15). O’Connor also has officially partnered with Troon Golf Academies.
O’Connor calls her company Sonix golf, a name she arrived at during a brainstorming session with her two sons. The tagline? “A sound approach to a better game.”
The most distinctive characteristic of O’Connor’s targets is the black sheet metal from which they are made. O’Connor compares the sound of striking the target with a golf ball to hitting the range picker.
“It’s a combination of the visual and the auditory feedback that actually facilitates motor learning,” she said. “You’re facilitating learning while you’re having fun at it.”
Each target is 4 feet in diameter and, at about 65 pounds, is designed to move easily around a practice range. The targets fold into a flat position for storage and shipping. Non-college customers can cover the targets with adhesive logos and use them for advertising purposes. Magnetic covers also are available, and O’Connor designed those with corporate outings in mind.
O’Connor, who led the Cardinal to three top-5 finishes at the NCAA Championship, references a long track record of success with the targets among the college crowd. They’re especially popular among O’Connor’s former players.
“That was one of the cool things about it when we went public with this,” she said. “We have 12 years of history.”