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Green Acres

Seeing green, shoe-ins, furniture with a flair.

With golf, as with any sport, practice makes perfect. But if you don't practice, you won't ever be perfect--or even pretty good, for that matter. As an executive for The Coca-Cola Company, Mike Connor spent many hours on the links improving his handicap while making business deals. All the while, he kept hearing the same complaint from his golfing buddies: "If I had time to practice, I'd be a better golfer."

After seeing an advertisement in a golf magazine for backyard putting greens, Connor realized that, given the rapidly growing numbers of amateur golfers, his pals probably weren't the only ones who would pay for the opportunity to practice the game in their backyards.

"I knew if I came up with a quality, cost-effective practice golf product that could be installed in a backyard, then people like me would certainly be interested," says Connor, 40.

In 1995, with $250,000 raised from private investors, Connor started Short Game Inc., a McKinney, Texas, company that installs custom-designed putting greens in backyards, golf training centers and hotels. To get the word out to golf nuts, Connor installed demonstration greens at local golf tournaments and offered a putting green as a prize in a contest sponsored by Sporting News magazine.

Connor expects Short Game to gross $1 million this year. The company has been offered licensing agreements and will soon expand to other states.

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