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Portable, temporary mound is a perfect fit

February 16, 2018  - By

(L to R) Bill Lee, Craig Dohm and Richie Sauget at the 2018 STMA show in Fort Worth, Texas.

It takes time to achieve perfection, but Bill Lee believes he may have achieved it with a lightweight, portable pitching mound.

Lee, the longtime commissioner of the 14-team Frontier League (which includes teams such as the Traverse City Beach Bums, the River City Rascals and the Washington Wild Things), observed as teams in the league made the switch to natural grass but struggled with installing a permanent pitching mound.

“About five or six years ago I felt the need for a really good portable mound that teams could get on and off the field so they could then have a flat surface for soccer or football,” Lee recalls. “When my friend Richie Sauget said to me, ‘I’m going to turf this field, what do I do about the mound?’ I said, ‘I have an idea.’”

Sauget listened to Lee’s idea for a lightweight, portable pitching mound, and suggested they take it to a friend who built fiberglass models. The didn’t keep the prototype they got back for long — they sold it to the University of Southern Illinois. The Perfect Mound was born.

“The (players) loved it,” Lee recalls. “They said, ‘This mound is perfect!’ We thought, ‘that’s a pretty good name.’ For a few years we had the ‘Almost-Perfect Mound,’ but now we’ve kept working on it and we’ve got it to where it needs to be. People come and look at it, and we’ve got some pretty nice clients now, which is an amazing feeling.”

Those clients now using the Perfect Mound include big-name programs like Notre Dame, the University of Michigan and the University of Kansas. Another honor was recently bestowed upon the Perfect Mound when it was named by the Sports Turf Managers Association as the winner of its 2018 Innovation Award at last month’s conference in Fort Worth, Texas.

“We’ve been very blessed with success, and we’re having fun while we’re doing it,” Lee says. “This is our third STMA show. Our first show was in San Diego, a little 10-(foot) by 10-(foot) booth. We didn’t know what to expect. Last year in Orlando we took our youth mound and our bullpen mound to the show, and everybody said, ‘This is great, but do you have it in a big mound?’”

Now the product is blowing up in the college and high school levels of baseball across the country.

“A lot of fields are going turf and they’re asking, ‘What do we do about the mound?’ Do they go concrete, composite, gravel?” Lee asks. “Hopefully we have answered that question with the way we can change out (our mound.)”

The Perfect Mound has been a fun side project for Lee, who maintains his full-time job as commissioner of the Frontier League. Rich Sauget Sr., managing partner of the Gateway Grizzlies in Sauget, Ill., is co-inventor and partner, while Rich Sauget Jr. is another partner. Craig Dohm “does incredible things” running the day-to-day business for Perfect Mound, Lee says.

“We started this out five years ago going very slowly, but it’s moved on and on,” Lee says. “To be in places like Notre Dame, Michigan, the University of Minnesota, Fordham… we feel very lucky.”

Photos: Seth Jones

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About the Author:

Seth Jones, an 18-year veteran of the golf industry media, is Editor-in-Chief of Golfdom magazine and Athletic Turf. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Jones began working for Golf Course Management in 1999 as an intern. In his professional career he has won numerous awards, including a Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) first place general feature writing award for his profile of World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman and a TOCA first place photography award for his work covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In his career, Jones has accumulated an impressive list of interviews, including such names as George H.W. Bush, Samuel L. Jackson, Lance Armstrong and Charles Barkley. Jones has also done in-depth interviews with such golfing luminaries as Norman, Gary Player, Nick Price and Lorena Ochoa, to name only a few. Jones is a member of both the Golf Writers Association of America and the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association.

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