What once started as a hobby by chance has grown into a thriving business with four employees. Nicky Dörfel from Raamsdonkveer fishes golf balls out of the water as a diver throughout Europe and even beyond. Last year he recorded a record catch with a total of 1.4 million balls. They are all cleaned and sold as second-hand balls.
He just got back from Dubai where he pulled golf balls out of the water. The young entrepreneur Nicky Dörfel (34) is doing well with his company Gulf Square. On this Saturday he and his partner Willem de Jongh are on the golf course in Teteringen to dive golf balls out of the water. Not a superfluous luxury, because at least a thousand balls end up in the water every year, says a golfer who just passed by.
When Nicky was 20 years old, he saw a documentary about an American who became a multimillionaire by surfacing golf balls. Then he thought; I will too. Instead of fishing for carp, Nicky went hunting for golf balls in the water. In the meantime he is active on 250 golf courses, spread all over Europe and even beyond, such as recently in Dubai.
Almost every golf course has a piece of water as an obstacle and over which the ball must be hit. But not every golfer succeeds and so many end up in the water. When Nicky started his career as a golf ball diver at the age of 20, he sold the fished balls for one guilder each to a golf course.
The golf balls that Nicky takes out of the water these days earn him between fifty cents and two euros each. If you consider that the entrepreneur now has more than one million golf balls in stock, the revenue model is clear. Recycling the balls is also good for the environment. Because otherwise all those plastic balls will remain in the water.
It’s about more than just diving and fishing. After the balls have been removed from the water, they are cleaned and selected for quality. At the moment that is still human work, but next spring Nicky hopes to have a robot that can clean and select a hundred balls per minute.
Nicky is now so busy with his business that he can only dive himself two days a week. “I still like diving the most, but not every day anymore, because that’s too heavy. You have around 45 kilos on your body and you’re digging in the mud all day, so you usually don’t see anything. digging on your knees all day and puts the golf balls in nets.
A millionaire, following the example of his American source of inspiration, Nicky is unfortunately not yet. “I’m working hard to achieve that. We’re doing our best.”