How far can a Golf Ball Travel? Alternative Golf Association Challenges Inventors with $10,000 prize for Adding 25 Percent more Distance

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Performance, not conformance: Winning ball for average swing speeds doesn't have to meet USGA standards for size, weight and dimples, but it does have to roll. Deadline June 1, 2011.

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Alternative Golf Association management team Scott McNealy, Pat Gallagher and Bob Zider

I'm not even sure it can be done, but it's my guess this will come from outside the golf industry.

The Alternative Golf Association today launched the $10,000 Longest Golf Ball Challenge to inspire inventors and engineers to add fun for players of its new game, testing under the name Project Flogton (“not golf,” backward).

AGA founder Bob Zider, himself an inventor of Flexon eyeglass frames and golf clubs, conceptualized and funded the challenge to unleash equipment developers from the USGA’s conformance constraints. The prize-winning ball will be used for long shots only, and it does not have to have dimples or otherwise look like a traditional golf ball. It must, however, test out for 25 percent more distance for players of swing speeds of 80 to 100 mph than current USGA-approved golf balls do, and meet the criteria listed in the Official Rules.

The criteria include that the ball must roll on impact, have no more force on humans or windows than conforming balls and be marketable at no more than $1 at retail. One dozen of the balls must be submitted to the AGA by the contest deadline of June 1, 2011.

“We are not ball designers,” said Zider, a bogey golfer out of Sharon Heights in Menlo Park, Calif. “In the spirit of Flogton and the AGA, which has set out to develop a game with the help and input of players, we’re doing this to find the people who are smarter than us. I’m not even sure it can be done, but it’s my guess this may come from somewhere outside the golf industry.”

In preparation for the challenge, the AGA and Hot Stix tested several existing nonconforming balls against a standard Titleist ProVI (with a conforming driver) and found that the nonconforming balls currently on the market offered marginal or no improvement. “If it’s only a 10 percent difference, that is the difference between hitting the ball in the center of the clubface and off center, as most people do,” Zider said.

Zider, Commissioner Scott McNealy, CEO Pat Gallagher and legal counsel Damien Eastwood launched the AGA in January at http://www.flogton.com to foster the creation and evolution of new games – “golf for the rest of us,” they call it – that could be played on existing golf courses.

“The reaction has been extremely positive among the golf course owners and operators, the equipment manufacturers and, most important, the people who play,” McNealy said.

McNealy has established a committee to review various game and rule proposals, but, he said, “Equipment advances are essential components of what we’re trying to do to make the game more fun for the recreational golfer, the new golfer, the aging golfer. We’re setting aside USGA conformance standards, and we want innovation on what might be possible.”

Contestants may find the complete rules and entry form at the AGA’s http://www.flogton.com. If none of the balls submitted by the contest deadline of June 1, 2011 tests for at least 25 percent more yardage than the conforming ball, no prize will be awarded. The AGA will, however, continue to partner with equipment companies to test the limits of what is possible.

Said Gallagher: “We are hoping this inspires all equipment companies, inventors and innovators to see partnering with the AGA as a new market opportunity for equipment that can make the game more playable.”

About the Alternative Golf Association:
The AGA formed in 2010 in Palo Alto, California, after inventor and entrepreneur Bob Zider recruited his friends Scott McNealy, Pat Gallagher and Damien Eastwood to join in creating a new game that would not be bound by golf’s rules and equipment restrictions. After studying golf industry trends and listening to course owners, equipment companies and players concerned about lack of growth in the game, they concluded there was room in the sport for a more playable alternative to USGA golf. The AGA's mission is to return innovation and invention to the sport and encourage a style of play that stresses performance over conformance. For more information about “golf for the rest of us,” the AGA and Project Flogton, visit http://www.flogton.com.

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Susan Fornoff

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