I grew up on a farm west of Philly with two brothers and a lot of sports equipment lying around. We were not overscheduled, and beyond school athletics, we had time on our hands. The three of us and some neighbor friends spent a lot of that time combining equipment and competing in our own “original sports” programs. Football on skates, ultimate frisbee on dirt bikes, sledding with a Big Wheel, and one that stuck, golf with a lacrosse stick.
Fast forward a couple, ok several, decades and I was still thinking about that simple idea of hurling a golf ball with a lacrosse stick to hit a tree, or a rock on the other side of the pond. But a lacrosse stick gave no feel and really not much distance. What if I developed a new stick that could allow me to throw the golf ball at least 200 yards, and really control the shots with pinpoint accuracy? And if that were the case, and I made it so that I could play every shot with one stick, could I play it on a golf course?
Of course not.
No way would a golf course allow that.
For whatever reason, I got obsessed with how far I could throw a golf ball, and 200 yards became my holy grail. During a year and a half of developing prototype after prototype (and sneaking on to several local golf courses to test them), working on the perfect angle, length, weight and balance, I also started to understand that maybe, just maybe, golf courses weren’t all the stuffy, uptight places that you see on tv.
Long story short, I brought one of my FlingStick prototypes to Walt Lankau, a Board Member of the National Golf Course Owners Association, to get his sense of whether golf courses would be interested in welcoming a new sport. His response was “This is exactly what golf courses need!” Just like snowboarding infused new energy and generation of players to ski resorts, we started talking about how FlingGolf could do the same thing for golf courses since it can be played in the same foursome as golfers and course owners need to make no changes to their course.
On that cue, I introduced FlingGolf and the original AK1 FlingStick at the NGCOA Annual Conference in February 2014 in Orlando Florida. The reception I got from many, many golf course owners was awesome. If FlingGolf players wanted to bring a FlingStick and come play at our courses, they would be welcome, they said. Some courses even went so far as to buy our FlingSticks and promote it themselves (and have now made a very sweet ROI! See the story of Massanutten Resort) As the President of one of the major golf course management companies said to me, “If I don’t need to make any changes to my courses, why wouldn’t we let them play?”
So that was the beginning and over the last 5 years, ambitious players, aka the “New Swarm” have driven the charge and played FlingGolf at what we estimate must be well over 1,000 courses in the US, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica, several Islands in the Caribbean, several countries in Europe, Morocco and on courses ranging from the local 9 hole to Pebble Beach, St. Andrews and Pinehurst. Seriously.
And we know this is just the beginning. The New Swarm is young. Very young. We have no way of knowing every course that our players play on, but our goal is to have our players conquer all 15,000 golf courses in the US and 35,000 around the globe. Every single one of those courses is what we call “FlingGolf Ready,” just waiting for the first player to walk through their door and introduce them to the world of FlingGolf.
To the thousands and thousands of players who make up the New Swarm and have taken their FlingStick and cleared the way for others to follow, we thank you. And for those considering the fun task of liberating courses from old, tired traditions, know that you will be a pioneer of a new sport and the Future of the Fairway!
Alex Van Alen
Founder of FlingGolf
CEO of New Swarm Sports LLC