An innovative and logical way to grow and support the
game of golf
(“not golf” spelled backward)
Alternative Golf Association 1/27/11
The problems with golf
• Of the estimated 25 million golfers in the United States, only about 5
million play 25 or more rounds per year*
• Less than 20% of all golfers post/maintain a handicap*
• 10-15% of all 15,000-plus golf courses are “at risk”*
• Kids/Baby Boomer golfer segments aren’t growing
• Country club model is broken in many areas
• Most trends in golf are flat or going the wrong way*
• Equipment innovations of last several decades can make good players
better, but for vast majority they generate no improvement
• Average score has stayed at around 100 for decades*
• Fringe “nonconforming” equipment doesn’t help much, promotes
cheating at USGA golf, and is considered taboo.
Sources: NGF/Pellucid *
We think golf is the greatest
game in the world, but golf
What players say
“Golf takes too long to play”
“It’s too difficult for new/occasional players”
“Golf isn’t fun”
“It can be intimidating for new players”
“Why should I spend time and money on something that is frustrating?”
Sources: NGF/ Pellucid
What golf stakeholders say
• Course operators: “What can I do to increase play?” Price promotions
haven’t solved the problem.
• Equipment suppliers: With sales declining, discounts not working, they
ask “Where do we go for innovation?” and “Where are the new ideas?”
• PGA teaching pro: “I lay awake at night worrying about how to keep my
students from quitting”
• Golf analysts: “Golf needs innovation, entrepreneurs,” “Something’s got to
give – maybe it’s one set of rules/one set of equipment,” “Become more
relevant to recreational players while protecting tradition and not
alienating the core,” “Golf establishment is dysfunctional.”
• USGA :“Our responsibility is to regulate and protect the game, not grow
Sources: actual conversations with stakeholders, analyst quotes: Pellucid
Other sports/fields of play have multigame variants in order to grow
• Ski slopes: Snowboards have saved the ski industry, operators have found
ways for skiers and snowboarders to co-exist at the same facility
• Baseball: Smaller diamonds, tee-ball for kids, softer/larger balls for
softball and youth play
• Sailing: “Lido 14,” Hobie Cats, sailboards, windsurfing, not just mono-hull
• Equestrian: Rodeo, western saddle, English saddle, jumping/dressage
• Basketball: Lower hoops, half-court games, use smaller balls
• Soccer: Smaller fields and smaller balls for youth play
• Tennis: Players use larger racquets; schools offer team tennis
• Ice rink: Hockey, curling, speed skating
• Other example: Roller skates/skateboards/longboards
An answer for golf?
Alternative Golf Association (AGA)
• Bring new attitude, ideas and energy to golf
• Create a second option to USGA golf that is more fun and relevant for “the
rest of us”
• Give occasional golfers a reason to play more often; give defectors reasons
to come back
• Respect the traditions of USGA golf while creating legitimate new game
that can also be played on any golf course. Not “goofy golf” or “cheating”
at golf, just an alternative for frustrated or new players
• Give all stakeholders reasons to get involved
• Create a “movement” on adopting new ways to play and think about
playing a competitive, yet more approachable, game on a golf course
• Add new fun, new revenue, new game for golf and its stakeholders
AGA’s main goal
Preserve the great characteristics
of golf while growing the game for
AGA’s plan: 4 elements
Introduce new games and rules that are considered legal –
legitimate, playable, competitive and accessible games that can be
played on any participating golf course.
Introduce innovative equipment that actually makes it easier and more
fun for people of widely varying abilities to play, and that can be used
instead of or with existing USGA conforming equipment.
Introduce a new, more fun style and set of social standards that are in
step with the norms of today’s society. Jeans ok, cell phones/PDA’s
ok, talking and laughing while playing ok.
Create an online media community with social networking features to
educate, connect, excite and celebrate the news: Finally, a more
playable game for the rest of us.
AGA: a new brand of play
• Is active, healthy, distinctive and competitive to symbolize a major
change in play standards that are more flexible, make the game more
fun and frankly, make more common sense today.
• It’s different from USGA golf. A new look, feel, attitude and style. It
isn’t golf as defined by the USGA rules, but a new game and a new way
of playing on a golf course that is more relevant today. Eliminates the
“stigma” associated with USGA golf.
• The AGA seeks to collaborate with selected consumer products brands
(i.e. beer, energy drinks, cosmetics, automotive, apparel, resorts, etc)
to leverage their marketing assets and target growth in various player
segments (kids, college students, women, seniors, resort guests, highhandicap golfers, disabled golfers, charities, etc) in organized course
• Clubs: Designs exist or can be contemplated that can make it easier to
swing/square up to the ball, control flight/spin of the ball, get correct grip
on the club for people of normal ability.
• Balls: It is possible to make golf balls that travel much farther on
impact, are more accurate on fairways and greens (could be three
• Brand/design: AGA branded equipment will be distinctly different in
appearance, design/color and will be clearly differentiated from USGA
conforming equipment. Unlike current nonconforming equipment that
encourages player to “cheat” at the USGA game, AGA equipment will be
designed and will be legal to play the different games.
• Unlike USGA conforming guidelines, AGA will have an open source
philosophy for equipment development that will encourage invention and
• Initial rules modifications have been suggested by AGA advisory group.
• Encourage further rule suggestions by members of AGA social network
community and vetted by wiki-style stakeholder advisory group before
• Have the games/rules rated by players who participate in AGA social
• Rule/segment variations will target different objectives. To improve speed
of play, 6-9-12 as well as 18-hole segments may be allowed.
• Course operators will determine how to integrate AGA play into regular
play to result in the best use of their facilities.
• Create vibrant and engaging online community enabling users to
connect, learn, stay current, share experiences.
• Offer demonstrations, digital games, real-time apps for posting
scores, uploading photos, videos, monitoring pace of
play, distances, scores, calories burned, etc.
• Features will include “first to xyx” acknowledgements, “here is the AGA
game we play,” course/tournament locator, book tee times, discounts on
equipment, travel assist, online retailer, etc.
• Growth strategy for AGA games will be through viral trial and adoption by
players and courses promoting this more playable alternative.
AGA increases playability, reduces scores
• Equipment innovations make bad shots “less bad” than you know they
would have been (fade vs. slice, draw vs. hook)
• Real bad shots (open/closed face, chunks, bladed shots) are still real
bad and not rewarded.
• Rules and equipment enable most players to get around the green in
• Equipment gives players ability to stop good shots on green
• Speeds up play with less time looking for lost balls
• Using one mulligan per hole reduces typical score by 8 strokes.
• Using both AGA rules and equipment can be expected to reduce the
typical score by 15 to 20 strokes.
The AGA’s concept validation plan:
• “Flogton” (“not golf,“ backward) is the working title of the AGA’s initiative
to seek the best ideas for change from stakeholders looking to introduce
more playable versions of golf. Flogton’s goal: Become recognized as a new
style and brand of play and symbolize the movement where change in golf
• Flogton’s mission: Grow golf for everyone by embracing innovative and
entrepreneurial solutions to make games that are more fun.
• AGA/Flogton message to golf: Make room for us.
Elements of Project Flogton
• Give players rules modifications to make the game more playable and
improve speed of play. Invite them to share their experiences with the
online community (for advisor review prior to publication) on the site.
• Advise players on what existing nonconforming equipment may make their
game more playable. Provide a forum to rate which games and what
equipment is most effective.
• Encourage equipment developers, inventors interested in making
equipment for Flogton to come forward with their ideas to be evaluated
by AGA advisors.
• List “Flogton Friendly” golf courses who adopt and promote games
developed in the AGA as a way to increase play. Encourage teaching pros
to use Flogton as teaching method.
• Seek consumer products brands interested in promoting Flogton
Future Flogton equipment
• Projected improvements:
Distance driver (better distance off the tee)
Control driver (better control on fairway)
Training grips for clubs
Fairway ball/tee assist device
• Seek major brands interested in making equipment for use in Flogton.
Establish distribution channels for Flogton equipment.
• Seek apparel brands interested in developing clothing for Flogton play.
Who wins with AGA and Flogton?
• Golfers. They have a more accessible, enjoyable and social game option.
• Golf Courses. The 20 million occasional golfers have a reason to
return, others to try golf for the first time, resulting in a way to increase
play and retain players.
• Equipment/apparel companies: A significant new market.
• Consumer brands. They find new opportunities to target and
develop/strengthen relationships with affinity groups.
• PGA/USGA/governing bodies. With new ways to protect the traditional
game and its followers, they can watch overall participation and retention
in the golf industry grow. Today’s Flogton players may become your players
tomorrow. Why should your players quit when they can play Flogton?
Why the AGA concept will work
• AGA can rejuvenate existing, underutilized capital investments (courses).
• AGA uses already established supply lines and distribution channels.
• AGA presents an opportunity for a new, more satisfying and potentially
lower-cost experience for a large existing market that is now registering
• AGA’s healthy, outdoor activity can appeal to all demographic segments.
• AGA’s growth potential is scalable.
• AGA is supported by an experienced management team and world class
AGA’s 10-year goal
Double golf industry revenue by 2021
The AGA/Flogton goal metrics:
• Add 25% more distance to average golfer’s drive
• Reduce hooks, slices, chunks, skulls by 50%
• Increase wedge spins by 100% allowing good shots to remain
on the green
• Have special purpose balls for distance, accuracy, spin and
• Lower score by 15 stokes
• Develop cross index data to allow competitive play between
AGA games/equipment and USGA in same group
• Increase fun by 200%
AGA call to action for the golf industry:
• Course owners: Realize that many of your players are playing versions of
Flogton now. Embrace this concept, use it to invite more players and help
us collect data for game development.
• Equipment companies: devote R&D to develop for Flogton. Attention
inventors: The performance over conformance lamp is lit. Go to work!
• Sponsors: Pick a demo segment and let’s go after it together.
Kids?, College students?, Gen-X?, Women?, Frustrated 20
handicappers?, Boomers?, Charities?, Families?, Vacationers?, Team
• Architects: Design ways to renovate courses including AGA game
layout, develop course layouts that will offer 6-9-12 hole rounds as well as
18. “Flex-course” concept for new courses.
• PGA: Use Flogton to teach the game to your students.
• USGA: be supportive. We love your game. We want our game.
AGA Phase One leadership
Bob Zider *(Founder) Founded Beta Group in
1983 to “beta test” idea then partner with
corporations. Startups include Personics
(custom music), Flexon eyeglasses, J&J
cardiovascular stents, Pixl Golf
Pat Gallagher *(CEO) Top business/marketing
executive with the San Francisco Giants for over
30 years. Led sponsorship/marketing plan for
AT&T Park, considered sports marketing pioneer
Damien Eastwood (General Counsel) Former
Sun Microsystems VP/GC, expert in IP, open
source tech, M&A, social networking
Doug Barry (CFO consultant) Partner at David
Powell, Inc. Financial Services, 30 years
experience in banking and startups
(Kontiki, Marimba, mBlox, Netcentives)
Scott McNealy*(AGA Commissioner)
Founder/CEO Sun Microsystems, top CEO golfer
Bill Campbell* Chairman of Intuit, former
Apple/Claris key executive, advisor/mentor to
many SV companies
Tom Suiter Former principal in CKS
Partners, branding/design expert
Tom Isaak Founder/CEO of CourseCo, operates
17 NorCal golf courses
Bob Lurie Former owner of San Francisco
Giants, golf course developer/owner
John Abendroth PGA pro, host of “Hooked on
Golf,” golf course owner, NorCal golf personality
Jeff Mallett Former pres/COO/board member of
Yahoo, investor/owner EPLS soccer club