Another local golf club is experimenting with ways to drive new revenue and younger players to its course.
Hunting Hawk Golf Club in Hanover County recently began offering rounds of FlingGolf, which allows players to toss and putt a standard golf ball using a hybrid of a golf club and lacrosse stick.
Jeff Staton, Hunting Hawk’s director of golf, said the daily fee club invested in 14 FlingGolf sticks earlier this year. It’s the latest local example of an industry-wide trend that has courses getting creative in their efforts to drive more rounds and find ways to get more youthful crowds out on the links.
“It’s a way to draw the family out and give people a different outlet for golf,” said Staton, “and maybe fill up some of those tee times in the afternoons.”
That trend is fueled by the themes of cheaper, faster and different from the traditional round of golf.
Hunting Hawk is offering rounds of FlingGolf, including a cart, for $25. That’s half of its current weekday rate for a regular round of golf. And the club said the average time to play a round of FlingGolf is about 90 minutes.
Hunting Hawk considered other new golf alternatives, such as foot golf, but liked FlingGolf for the fact that it didn’t require any changes to the golf course and allows players to play alongside regular golfers.
Staton said Hunting Hawk, which is owned by developer and builder HHHunt, wants to use FlingGolf as a way to go after corporate events and kids parties.
Hunting Hawk had about 29,500 rounds played last year, Staton said, and he hopes FlingGolf will be a healthy supplement to its traditional revenue.
“If we could get 1,500 to 2,000 rounds out of (FlingGolf) next year and increase from there, I’d be really happy.”
FlingGolf clubs are made by a company of the same name that was founded in 2014 by Alexander Van Alen of Boston, who grew up playing lacrosse and golf.
“I put the two pieces together,” said Van Alen, 48.
He said early FlingGolf prototypes resembled a jai alai stick and evolved into a design that could handle every type of shot in golf and that could fling a ball about the same distance as an average golf shot.
Off the tee, some advanced FlingGolfers are able to toss a ball 250 yards, Van Alen said. The clubs are also fitted with a groove on the side that allows the ball to be pushed/putted on the green.
“That was my holy grail: I needed something that could go 200 yards to know I had a sport on my hands that could be commercially viable,” Van Alen said.
The clubs weigh 8-ounces and sell at a base price of about $150 apiece. FlingGolf sells its clubs both to individual golfers and in bulk to golf courses. Van Alen expects the individual golfer market to be its largest revenue driver.
FlingGolf is now a two-man company that hustles around the world to trade shows and golf clubs to sell course owners and consumers on its idea.
Van Alen isn’t sure how many courses now allow FlingGolf, but he said close to 300 are currently promoting the game.
Other courses in Virginia using FlingGolf sticks include the course at Massanutten Resort and the military course at Fort Lee.
He said hot spots for sales have been in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Toronto, Maryland and Virginia.
Hunting Hawk isn’t the only course in town trying new things to draw in new players.
Independence Golf Club, a daily fee course that straddles the Chesterfield-Powhatan county line, recently purchased a batch of Golf Bikes – two-wheeled alternatives to golf carts that course owner Giff Breed hopes will attract players interested in increasing the pace of play and getting more exercise than the typical round.