Scott Smith said he was enjoying a 2019 winter vacation with his family in Massanutten, Virginia, when the Century High School physical education teacher noticed signs pointing the way for visitors interested in something called FlingGolf.
A Google search helped him gather some information and interest, Smith said, enough to bring it back to Carroll County as a possible addition to the high school PE curriculum. Smith said he talked with Jim Rodriguez, the county’s supervisor of health and physical education, and both men were intrigued by a fast-paced sport that combines lacrosse with golf.
County and school officials agreed to introduce FlingGolf as a “pilot” sport, with Century, Manchester Valley, and Winters Mill high school students being the first to get a chance to participate in PE and Team Sport classes.
“I think it’s just different, no one has seen it before,” Smith said. “The kids are so used to a routine, so used to doing the same thing, so we can throw this out there and see what happens. Let them buy into it, and they bought into it. They’re enjoying it.”
Rodriguez and Christine Tobias, Carroll’s assistant supervisor of health education, met with Smith and his Team Sport class Monday morning at McDaniel College, where Green Terror director of golf Scott Moyer had the Green Terror’s golf course ready for action.
More than 20 students took to the course with FlingSticks, a lightweight hybrid club that holds a golf ball in a carrier at its head. On the side of the carrier, or channel, is a flat surface used for putting when players reach the green.
Players launch the ball with an overhead motion, like in lacrosse, but can also drop down and take sidearm shots. They’re also allowed to gather some momentum, a la “Happy Gilmore,” before launching shots down the fairway. Flop shots are the best bet when close to the green, and putts are better served as pushes toward the cup.
General rules of golf apply, Smith said, and players keep score with par as a guide.
Smith said he and fellow PE teachers Bernie Koontz (Man Valley) and Denny Snyder (Winters Mill) drew up rules and regulations for Carroll’s FlingGolf syllabus over the summer. The trio then played a round with Rodriguez at McDaniel as a trial run, and Smith said they kept pace with the traditional golfers ahead of their group.
Rodriguez, who has recently introduced snowboarding to Carroll’s elementary school curriculum, and parkour at the middle school level, said FlingGolf could become integrated into the high school routine next year.
Carroll County Daily Headlines
“It was intriguing to me, to be able to combine the lacrosse and the golf together,” Rodriguez said. “One of the things I’ve heard from my teachers is ... bringing something new to the curriculum. Hey, we love what we do, but at the same time it sometimes gets old for them to repeat the same units.”
Smith said he put together a six-hole golf course at Century and had his Team Sport class playing outside when school began in September. Ryan Williams, a sophomore, said he enjoys the minimalist approach to FlingGolf.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “Regular golf, you’ve got to bring around all the clubs. You’ve only got one piece [now], and it’s kind of fun.”
Williams and his classmates were yelling “Fore!" Monday morning with almost every approach shot, and most of the students seemed to find success at various times. Some struggled with technique, while others sprinted toward their golf balls after firing tee shots high into the air.
“It’s really fun, especially being able to do it with a bigger group,” said freshman Arden Jones. “It’s much faster than [playing] real golf.”
FlingGolf originated in Massachusetts and started five years ago. It’s popping up at courses across the nation, and Rodriguez said he has been in touch with a few other local courses for when high school students get a chance to play in class.
“It was a very strange concept when I first saw it, but it seemed fun,” Century senior Kevin Barker said. “I had a wonderful time playing.”