With the advent of formalized rankings, season standings and WLF Points Championships, it is important to take the time to honor and recognize an individual each year for achievements that go beyond formal competitive play. The Player of the Year award seeks to honor an individual for everything they do during a calendar year to further the mission of the WLF and grow the sport of FlingGolf worldwide. Last year two players shared that award - Austin "Showtime" Ebersole and Ken "Kenzo" Pytluk. They were the growing sport's first two champions but were also instrumental in spreading the game to a wider audience and setting examples for others to emulate. In 2023 and beyond, the award will focus on recognizing what a player has done outside of formal competitions. The 2023 winner of that award, for the second year in a row, is Austin Ebersole.
"Winning the Player of the Year award is such an honor. I always try and give this sport and everyone involved with it my heart and soul and to be recognized for that is really special," Ebersole said upon learning of the honor. "FlingGolf means the world to me - it's provided me with an opportunity to make new friends, travel the country, and even provide for my family."
Participating in the Golf Association of Philadelphia's 100-Hole Hike at the DuPont Country Club to raise awareness for FlingGolf and support the Youth On Course initiative, which subsidizes the greens fees of youth golfers and FlingGolfers. Austin raised over $5K personally and over $23K with his fellow participants. He significantly grew the awareness of FlingGolf by being the first participant to complete all 100 holes, finishing 90 minutes before the rest of the golfers finished.
From June to August, he led the 5th year of the "FlingGolf Fridays" FlingGolf League at American Classic, with an average of 27 players per week, which was up over 50% from the prior year. On average, 17 of those players participated almost every week, with the remaining 10 comprised of tourists and locals that were playing for the first time. This focus on both introducing FlingGolf to new players AND encouraging consistent competitive play is crucial to the growth of the sport.
Austin became the first golf course professional to conduct "FlingStick fittings" for American Classic customers and was entrusted by New Swarm to custom-build FlingSticks at the pro shop. This led to a significant increase in the local sale of FlingSticks by American Classic.
Hosting the New Swarm Classic for the second time along with the entire Morrison family and the staff of American Classic Golf Club.
FlingGolf Friday League at American Classic Golf Club
Participating in podcasts such as the Save Par Podcast and conducting a TV interview with DelMarVa Sports Nework (DSN). The latter segment directly led to DSN filming and airing the Individual Tournament at the New Swarm Classic in May.
Participating in multiple "Fling with a Pro" events at local golf charity outings, including one that supported the First Tee of Delaware.
At the Potomac Highlands Regional at Capon Springs, Austin joined Mike Edwards, Krysta Smith and Sam Scannell in leading clinics for new FlingGolfers and took part in a panel discussion about competitive FlingGolf.
Ebersole building a FlingStick at American Classic
Continuing to give in-person FlingGolf lessons to American Classic patrons and shifting the focus of his professional teaching to FlingGolf.
Attended the 2023 PGA Show to meet with potential FlingGolf sponsors and continued to raise the bar in terms of sponsorships for FlingGolf players, including landing apparel deals with Pins and Aces and a royalty deal on a signature pair of sunglasses with Neven Eyewear.
"Austin embodies the leadership and character that are vital for our sport to grow and we are proud to honor him with this award," said WLF Commissioner John Pruellage. "He has the drive and determination to be the best - both as a player and as an influential force in growing this sport worldwide."
"His enthusiasm for making our sport as big as possible is infectious," founder and CEO of New Swarm FlingGolf Alex Van Alen added. "It's all the little things that members of our community do that add up to make a tremendous impact on growing FlingGolf."
As indicated below, Austin and Ken's names will also be engraved on a perpetual trophy for the Player of the Year award that will be formally presented to them at a future tournament in 2024.
WLF PLAYER OF THE YEAR
2022 - Ken Pytluk, Austin Ebersole
2023 - Austin Ebersole
2022 Co-Players of the Year Showtime and Kenzo posing for a selfie
In addition, starting in 2024, members of the World League FlingGolf player community will have the ability to recommend and nominate fellow players for this award. There will be a formal nomination and finalist selection process that will involve the recently-formed Commissioner's Advisory Committee (CAC). "Our goal is to turn a spotlight on all that our player community collectively does to grow the game," Pruellage said. "Not just for the ultimate winner of the award but for those that have been nominated. Their efforts are critical to our growth and they should be recognized."
"This award is one that I'm very proud of and I hope to make the greater FlingGolf community proud," Ebersole said. "I'm forever grateful for the sport, and I couldn't be more excited for 2024 and beyond."
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About World League FlingGolf
World League FlingGolf is the official governing body of FlingGolf®, establishing rules, certifying professionals and courses, and promoting events and leagues of all skill levels. Our mission is to make FlingGolf the most widely played sport on golf courses across the globe.
About New Swarm
New Swarm created and promotes the alt-golf sport FlingGolf and designed and sells the patented FlingStick. FlingGolf is an action sport for golf courses that combines athleticism, strength and touch, using just one stick to hurl a golf ball and shape every shot from tee to hole. It appeals to a younger, athletic and active player and since its inception, thousands of players are energizing over 2,000 golf courses in more than 35 countries across the globe. New Swarm promotes FlingGolf to players looking for a fun and athletic way to enjoy a golf course, and for golf courses to gain significant incremental revenue by filling empty tee times with new players.