This article was published in the Lenoir News-Topic.

See Horace Minton out on the golf course, and you’ll probably do a double-take.

What he’s using to whack the ball is not a traditional golf putter at all – it has a CB antenna in place of a traditional club shaft.

This is what he calls the Minton’s Flex-a-Putt Putter, which Minton designed more than 12 years ago and has been using ever since. It’s now in the first round of competition in Walmart’s “Get on the Shelf” contest, which is just what it sounds like: a multi-round competition launched in 2012 in which the public can vote for product ideas they would like to see on the shelves at the retail giant’s stores. In its first year, the contest had three winners.Minton got fed up with traditional putters, he said, when he missed a putt “about that far” – he held two fingers out less than 12 inches apart. He needed more swing, more of a pendulum effect. He needed flexibility.

So he started thinking about what he could rig together to give his putter that pendulum swing. He tried a couple of ideas before he tried out a CB antenna, which had exactly the tension and rigidity he wanted.

Minton has a technical explanation for why the putter works. Half of a golf game is putting strokes. If you can putt less, your score will be lower. Games, he said, are won and lost on the green.

“It’s a whole different concept, so nobody’s ever seen anything like it or had it in their hands before,” he said.

For years, the Flex-a-Putt was just a way for Minton to improve his own golf game – and turn a few heads. Then he heard about “Get on the Shelf.” He made a video and entered it in the contest. More than a year later, on Aug. 9, he learned his putter made it into the first round – the “audition stage,” Walmart calls it.

Minton’s putter is up against a variety of contraptions, everything from a fingernail-clipping catcher to the “Catchoo Sneeze Catcher” – a patch designed to be worn on your arm, ready to be sneezed into.

If the contest doesn’t work out, Minton said he will consider other avenues for marketing the Flex-a-Putt. Right now, though, he’s just glad he took the step instead of just letting the idea rest.

“You can sit with something and wonder if it’ll ever happen and never try,” he said. “Or you can give it a shot.”