Golf with a Lacrosse Stick: Introducing FlingGolf
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Golf with a Lacrosse Stick: Introducing FlingGolf

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Golf with a Lacrosse Stick: Introducing FlingGolf

“Intercropping” is the practice of growing two crops in the same field simultaneously like, say, sowing garlic alongside rows of tomatoes. FlingGolf works under somewhat of the same concept.

The game, where golf balls are hurled down fairways using a basketed stick, is played alongside traditional golf from the same tees, with the same pace of play and with no course alterations required.

The seed for FlingGolf was planted on a farm west of Philadelphia where Alex Van Alen grew up. A natural-born inventor, Van Alen dreamed up wacky sports while playing outside with his brothers. These Frankensteinian amalgams tended to mash together sports—they’d tie on hockey skates and play football on ice, jump on dirt bikes and toss around an ultimate frisbee or ride Big Wheels down a sledding hill. So it’s fitting that, as an adult, he brought to market a lacrosse stick with a special channel that holds golf balls with a striking pad on the exterior for putting.

His creation started out more as a hobby than a business idea. He played lacrosse and but knew that without major modifications to the basket end of the stick, the ball would never travel far enough. His goal was to throw a golf ball 200 yards. Tinkering with the design of the jai-alai cesta—the handheld wicker scoop used to propel the pelota in the sport popular in Spain, Latin America and Florida, and which holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest-moving ball sport—did the trick. The current official record FlingGolf throw is 252 yards.

In stark contrast to the traditional game, the learning curve is very shallow. It takes roughly 20 minutes of instruction to be adept and round-ready. Unsurprisingly, mastering the feel needed to excel in the short game poses a greater challenge.

Showtime

Austin Ebersole, 31, is the top-ranked FlingGolfer in the world. Straddling the world of the traditional game and FlingGolf, in his day job he’s the general manager and teaching pro at American Classic Golf, a nine-hole course in Lewes, Del.

Five years ago, he stopped by the booth of New Swarm, Van Alen’s company that markets the FlingStick, the sport’s single piece of equipment. He wanted to increase course utilization and this golf variant fit the bill.

“We wanted to bring in something that families and people on vacation could do together. Sometimes, golf can take months and years to get good enough to where you’re not embarrassed to play. I didn’t want Disc Golf because that would require building a course and I didn’t want Foot Golf because I didn’t want to cut huge holes into the greens. But this was the same course, the same par, using the same golf ball—you’re just doing it a different way.”

The light bulb went off immediately. Ebersole bought a couple of FlingSticks and began introducing the game to his clientele. He soon realized he had a knack for it. The American Classic GC hosted one of the sport’s first professional tournaments in 2022. He finished fourth, earning the nickname “Showtime” when, during the final round, he raised his hand to his ear seeking a reaction from the gallery.

“I don’t know what came over me but, in the moment, I went Hulk Hogan for five seconds and got everybody to cheer before my putt,” he recalls. A random spectator barked, “This guy is all about the show!” 

To cap off that round, Ebersole nailed a 16-foot par putt and celebrated by imitating Happy Gilmore, putting the FlingStick between his legs and “riding the pony.” That was the birth of Showtime.

Crowd-rousing antics aside, he sensed that, if he put in the practice, he had a chance to maybe become the Tiger Woods of FlingGolf.

“It was very eye-opening. I saw an opportunity to do something professionally and potentially become the No. 1 player in the world while also being that unicorn that walked the line between the two different worlds of golf and FlingGolf and I had a blast doing it.”

Fast-forward to today. He has accomplished that goal with three professional wins and has twice been named player of the year. There are five stops on the nascent World League FlingGolf Tour which just named OnCore as its official golf ball for the 2024 season. Play has garnered coverage on ESPN2 and regional grassroots leagues are springing up.

While Van Alen won’t reveal the sales volume of FlingSticks (which retail for $124-$249), he allows that the figure is in the tens of thousands and that the game has been played on roughly 4,000 courses in 33 countries. While the early strategy was to sell to clubs which would then rent them out, Van Alen has since pivoted to focus on the end consumer in an effort to build a player community.

“We’ve transitioned from looking at golf courses as customers to looking at players. We sell far more sticks to individual players now and we know that they can get on just about any course. We almost never hear of anybody getting rejected.”

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Mike Dojc

Mike Dojc

Mike Dojc

Mike Dojc, a press card carrying member of the leisure cognoscenti, has spent over two decades covering golf and travel. When he's not repairing divots the size of small craters, he's producing effervescent content for a diverse range of clients, including Forbes.com and AAA Living.

Mike Dojc

Mike Dojc

Mike Dojc

Mike Dojc

Mike Dojc

Mike Dojc





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      Jonathan “AquaJon” Bellingham

      3 months ago

      I take it from somebody who owns a golf course resort, is a top senior player, and has introduced the sport both domestically and internationally, when it comes to deciding whether FlingGolf™ is for you, doing not seeing is believing. Don’t take my word for it. Leave behind pre-judgments and open your mind to a whole new pioneering sport and try it. As hundreds of new players have already done, you can thank me later.

      Reply

      Bob Scott

      3 months ago

      I found this sport in the summer of 22′ after seeing an episode of Shark Tank. I found a nearby club that rented sticks and tried playing the following day. I was on the phone ordering my stick while driving home from that first experience. I love this game, I’m 71 years old and am out playing 3-5 times a week. I’ve accumulated a couple more sticks and am now a brand ambassador, giving lessons and demos any time I can. Two lines that we repeat often…The Future of the Fairway & Same rules, Different Tools! Look it up, find an Ambassador near you and give it a try.

      Reply

      Garry "Bruce Leroy" Callis Jr.

      3 months ago

      Thank you MyGolfSpy for highlighting this sport, and its greatest champion. I’m a fellow WLF (World League FlingGolf) Professional, and as someone that has been in the golf industry for the past 5 years, FlingGolf has been some of the most fun I have ever had on the golf course, full stop. It’s a sport that is for everyone. I highly implore everyone to simply give it a try, and before you go “oh you’re just throwing the ball, this isn’t hard,” the same nuances of course management are still there. In fact, I wager that it’s slightly harder because now, you don’t have a 7 iron from 150. You have a FlingStick and you don’t know off the top of your head what a 150 yard throw feels like. You’re still navigating the greens with techniques like the sidecar, clean sweep, and other techniques. This sport has the potential to be one of the biggest things in the world. So get on this train before it leaves the station.

      Reply

      Kelly Woerdeman

      3 months ago

      Such a great sport! If you think you won’t like it, try it, you will be pleasantly surprised.

      Reply

      CryptoDog

      3 months ago

      Nope

      Reply

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