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How do you go from improving people’s performance between the sheets to more accurately administering the rules of golf?

That’s a question for Bath-based entrepreneur Richard Longhurst.

“It’s definitely a departure,” he laughs. “On paper, I’m probably the least likely person to be doing this.”

The co-founder of Lovehoney, the world’s largest sex toy retailer, Longhurst has invented the Pocket Timer, an easy-to-use golf gadget that could save your scores.

Shaped like a coin and roughly the size of a poker chip, the lightweight, bright red Pocket Timer is designed to help you find lost balls using the full three minutes you are entitled to under the current Rules of Golf.

It’s ridiculously simple. When you start your search, simply click the timer in your pocket to begin the three-minute countdown. You’ll feel a buzz when you start and another every 30 seconds, until a double buzz tells you when your time’s up. Easy as that.

Making products that vibrate comes naturally to Longhurst. In the mid-1990s, he was editing a magazine called “net”. This was just before the internet – “I think people were still calling it cyberspace back then” – really took off and, sensing an opportunity, he and business partner Neal Slateford decided to launch an e-commerce business. One problem: they had no idea what kind of business it should be.

It was only after attending London’s Erotica Show at November 2001 that Lovehoney was born.

“There were so many sex toys for sale but hardly any brand names,” Longhurst told “That was the lightbulb moment for us. We said, ‘If Amazon sold sex toys, how would they do it?’”

What started with a £9,000 investment in 2002 has since blossomed into a global business worth a reported £850million. It’s official: sex sells.

Longhurst and Slateford sold a majority stake in the business to a Swiss private equity firm in 2018 and left the business altogether in 2019. Since then, Longhurst has done what any newly-minted entrepreneur in his position would do: play lots and lots of golf. That’s where the seeds of the Pocket Timer were sewn.

“It was when the rules changed in 2019 and you went from having five minutes to find a lost ball to three that I first had the idea,” he says. “Let’s face it, not everybody likes wearing a watch when they play golf, so the only other way you’d be able to keep time is by using your phone. But most golfers keep that in their golf bag and it’s unlikely anybody is going to pull it out before they go traipsing off into the rough to look for their ball. It’s just not something people do.

“So, how do you know when your three minutes is up? I figured having a little thing in your pocket that keeps time and vibrates – of course – when your three minutes is up would be a simple, efficient solution.”

Longhurst shared his vision with the owners Joy Factory, a Chinese company he had used in his Lovehoney days. Using the mould for a sex toy remote control, the Pocket Timer was born.

At only £14.99, with free UK delivery, Longhurst believes it fills an important gap in the market and, having helped improve people’s performance and pleasure in the bedroom, he’s hoping to do the same on the golf course.

“I’ve played since I was ten-years-old and, in the 40 years since, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody time a search for a lost ball,” he says. “The problem isn’t people taking too long. It’s people not taking long enough.

“How many times have you seen somebody have a quick look and then say, ‘It’s alright, don’t worry about it’. They’re worried about holding up play because they don’t know how long they’ve been looking. Chances are they’ve been looking for about 60 seconds. They’ve then got to go back and replay the shot, take a drop, play the provisional they’ve hit – all under penalty.

“They’re giving up shots unnecessarily, which means they’re shooting higher scores than they need to and it all ends up being needlessly demoralising. The Pocket Timer can help fix that. It won’t find your ball for you but it’ll give you a fair and fighting chance.”

Longhurst took delivery of his first run of timers shortly before Christmas and gifted one to his dad. “He was very pleased but, given my past life, it was a little disconcerting to give him a vibrating toy,” he laughs.

Long term, he hopes that golf’s ruling bodies might one day mandate the need for players to properly time their ball-hunting.

“You never know,” he says. “There might be more money to made from this than from selling dildos.”

For more information or to buy, log-on to


Rule 18.2a

A ball is lost if not found in three minutes after the player or their caddie begins to search for it. If a ball is found in that time but it is uncertain whether it is the player’s ball:

• The player must promptly attempt to identify the ball (see Rule 7.2) and is allowed a reasonable time to do so, even if that happens after the three-minute search time has ended.

• This includes a reasonable time to get to the ball if the player is not where the ball is found.

If the player does not identify their ball in that reasonable time, the ball is lost.

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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