It’s Showtime!

The Current sits down with FlingGolf aficionado and ambassador, Austin Ebersole

Austin Ebersole approached the first tee wearing screeching-loud neon shorts, along with a hat and sunglasses combo befitting a 1980’s pro wrestler. As the crowd cheered on and the ESPN cameras rolled, Ebersole reared back and hurled a golf ball 180-plus yards, landing just off the fairway.  Later on, after sinking his final putt of the day, Ebersole, the local favorite, hitched his equipment between his legs and galloped around in a short semicircle: a pony ride that would make Happy Gilmore proud. This was the 2022 World League FlingGolf Classic from the American Classic Golf Club in Lewes (and airing to a worldwide television audience). For a niche sport that’s barely a decade old, it seemed like a shining and unlikely achievement.  And Ebersole, of Lewes, happens to be its leading superstar.

FlingGolf’s Origin:

A sport still underground enough to lack its own Wikipedia entry, FlingGolf traces its origins to 1980’s Chester County, Pa., where Alex Van Alen and his brothers loaded golf balls into lacrosse sticks and whipped them at trees spread across their family farm. Years later, Van Alen (today the CEO of New Swarm Sports, the business face of FlingGolf) prototyped the FlingStick by merging design principles of lacrosse sticks and jai alai baskets. Unlike traditional golf, where players employ up to 14 different clubs, FlingGolf requires just a single FlingStick which can launch a golf ball 200-plus yards. FlingGolf players can maneuver the stick in a variety of methods, from the far-flinging tee shot to the scoop-style chip shot, and even utilizing its hard-shell sides like a traditional putter on the green. Van Alen and his small team officially went live with FlingSticks in 2014 and began marketing the sport as exhibitors at trade shows and PGA tour stops and events. In 2021, Van Alen introduced his invention to a national TV audience on the hit ABC show “Shark Tank.” The Major League Lacrosse league even hosted a FlingGolf tournament during its all-star weekend in California. 

FlingGolf vs. Traditional Golf:

FlingGolf, for the uninitiated, is not unlike tossing a golf ball with a specially modified lacrosse stick. The game relies on nearly all the same rules and regulations as traditional golf and can be played on any golf course—and even mixed in with regular golfers. “You’re basically throwing the ball instead of hitting it,” says Ebersole, who also serves as general manager for the American Classic Golf Club. “You’re using this one stick instead of a bag of clubs, but you’re still playing the same par, the same balls, and the same holes. You’re not changing the course in any way.”  Yet as his alternative sport grows, Ebersole is keenly aware of how it interacts and intersects with traditional golf play. As a seasoned golf pro, he adheres to proper etiquette and course expectations—without sacrificing the looser, laid-back vibes of FlingGolf. Says Ebersole: “It’s almost like the emergence of snowboarding in the eighties sharing space with skiers. It’s not stuffy. It’s its own vibe. We’re playing golf the same way in the sense of etiquette and still honoring all those traditions.”

How Ebersole got involved and how it took off:

Ebersole met his FlingGolf fate in 2019 at a PGA event. “There are always these new gizmos and things to do,” he says. “I saw these two guys just, like, chucking balls into a net and I was like, what the heck are they doing?”  Ebersole bought a pair of FlingSticks to bring back to Lewes, thinking it would be a fun activity for kids and tourists who visit the beach area for golf and leisure. But he found himself using it instead, along with his wife, her sister, her husband, and friends Neil Little, and Jack Bovich. The six formed the Delaware Titans, today a regional powerhouse that battles other clubs across the country and has helped to popularize the sport over the last five years.

 At 32, Ebersole is combining his passion for the game, his infectious enthusiasm, and his standing in the local golf community to grow the nascent sport around Delaware and the nation. He is currently sponsored by Callaway Golf and is the number-one ranked player in World League FlingGolf, a distinction he’s held since October 2022. “We’re even going to England in June [to play internationally] with yours truly as captain of team USA,” he says. “The whole thing, it’s been a freaking wildfire.” A Newport, Pa. native who moved to Lewes in 2015, Ebersole was a natural fit for FlingGolf. Growing up, he excelled as a point guard in basketball, a quarterback in football, and a shortstop in baseball. “Always kind of in that position of helping lead a team and really controlling the game,” he says. On mechanics: “My quarterback throw comes into play with my approach shots. Or I think about shooting a free throw and having that nice touch with your jump shots while playing FlingGolf,” he says.

By 2022, producers at ESPN had caught wind of Van Alen’s episode of “Shark Tank,” and pitched an idea to broadcast the first-ever FlingGolf tournament on their network with over 40 of the top players from around the country—hosted at the American Classic. “No one really knew what to expect. There was probably 6,000 to 8,000 people who had played FlingGolf by then. But up until this point, there was no reason to play competitively because there was just nothing.” ESPN and their viewers around the globe responded positively to the broadcast, helping put FlingGolf on the map.

Tournaments begat more tournaments, events, and gatherings, as the sport’s profile continued to grow. “Then, last year we had a five-stop tour all across the United States; to San Diego, Colorado, Virginia, Boston, and back to Delaware again,” Ebersole says. This season will bring another five-stop national road trip.

As the beach area prepares to welcome back the World League FlingGolf Classic this month (May 17 through 19, back at the American Classic), it does so as a bona fide FlingGolf hotbed. They also started spreading the FlingGospel through FlingGolf Fridays, a $20-a-head scramble at the American Classic that serves as a 101-training session for new players. “We get anywhere from 15 to 30 people every Friday, all summer long,” Ebersole says. “There’s so much local play here and we’ve made it so normalized. You come to Delaware and you’re not shocked to see FlingGolf. And I like to think we’re FlingGolf’s royal family.”

Like their alternative-sports forbearers “American Gladiators,” FlingGolf athletes are known primarily by their nicknames. Ebersole—with his flair for the dramatic and camera-ready persona—is known as “Showtime.” He competed in the 2022 Classic against FlingGolf stars Ken “Kenzo” Pytluk, “Lucky Jack” Bovich, and Mike “Big
Cat” Edwards.

What other local enthusiasts say: 

Lee Waples, who splits time between Vermont and Delaware, joined what he calls the second generation of FlingGolf disciples. “I probably never would’ve tried it if I saw it on TV or something,” says Waples, a longtime golfer with 60 years of experience (most of which sporting a sub-nine handicap) “But that is sort of the magic of Austin and the American Classic. It’s such a strong group of people there who are really competitive and are pushing the envelope on the sport.” Waples, 69, was initially drawn to the sport as a way to extend his life on the golf course—just one stick to carry makes the game imminently more walkable—but fell for it because of the strong sense of camaraderie and community Ebersole’s crew instilled.”  “It can be easy for the country club people to stick up their noses at FlingGolf,” Waples surmised. “But Austin is putting forth an image that says, this is real, this is professional, and we know how to act. He’s the face of the sport for a reason.”

Neil Little of Millsboro found himself under the same spell after attending a FlingGolf Friday event in 2019. “I haven’t picked up my regular clubs once since.”  Little, a former lacrosse player, became fast friends and teammates with Ebersole, and quickly found himself among the FlingGolf elite, ranking as high as 11th nationally. “You gotta understand that when people are around [Austin], there’s an energy and a swagger. “It kinda makes people nervous sometimes, but he really is the perfect ambassador for the sport.”

Forging New Traditions:

Ebersole, his family, and teammates are truly forging new traditions in Southern Delaware. For the charismatic star of a burgeoning sport, it feels like the culmination of a lifetime of experiences. “It’s very natural for me to not be afraid of being outside of the box. I love being different. I love making people smile. I love leading things and being that big brother figure,” he says. “I was never called Showtime until FlingGolf started. But now I feel like I’ve been Showtime my entire life.” 


  • Beach: Rehoboth Beach  
  • Restaurant: Big Oyster Brewery
  • Coffee: Rise Up Rehoboth
  • Dessert: Banana Cream Smith Island at Fins Ale House
  • Shop: Shorebreak in Lewes
  • Sunset Spot: American Classic Golf Club
  • Trail: Lewes-Georgetown
  • Breakfast Spot: Nectar in Lewes
  • Lunch Spot: Tequila Real in Milton
  • Happy Hour: Revelation Craft Brewing Co
  • Beach Activity: Passing frisbee
  • Beach Read: The Bible
  • Icecream Spot: Hopkins Farm
  • Live Music Scene: Bethany Blues Lewes

Flinggolf  101

FlingGolf can be played on any golf course with a typical golf ball, but here are a few nuances to the game:

For long distance shots, FlingGolfers are encouraged to make like Happy Gilmore and take few steps back from where the ball lies before launching the ball ahead of the spot.

Once a player reaches the green, they can apply a handful of different techniques for sinking the putt. FlingSticks are equipped with outer shells for normal putting, but players can attempt various scoops and sweeps.

Players receive a one-stroke bonus for every time they reach a green in two strokes less than par. This is known in FlingGolf as a “Reggie.”

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