Ever been out on a golf course and everything about the day was perfect except for your scorecard? Does that happen every time you go out? There’s a league for you.
Golf can be a frustrating game, but taking a step back reveals a healthy activity built for socializing. For those who might not win their club championship but still love playing the game, the Mediocre Golf Association has a venue for golfers to enjoy.
Tim Brennan and Mike Conklin are members of the Mediocre Golf Association Kent Island Chapter, but 2023 will be their last year in it. The two men enjoy the sport, but the travel involved needed to be more manageable. They wondered how they could keep playing but reduce their commute times. Brennan and Conklin realized they were in rather fertile ground.
“There are tons of people here; it’s the golf capital of the Mid-Atlantic – the Ocean City area and Delaware beaches – so we figured let’s bring it down here and make it a little bit easier for local people,” Brennan said.
With that, the Lower Shore Chapter of the Mediocre Golf Association was born and set to begin play in early 2024.
“Our first tournament will be in March, then it’s one tournament a month, March through October,” Brennan said.
The Mediocre Golf Association is a league that conducts itself officially, but it is geared toward fun and welcoming golfers from a wide range of skill sets. The opening tournament is called the Rebel Beach Am-Am, a play on the PGA’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and trophies are made with comedy as the driving force.
“I like to tell people that it can be as serious as you want it to be,” Brennan said.
There are more than 100 chapters of the MGA nationwide, in Canada and in Australia, with each running the same amount of tournaments leading up to a national invitational event held in Las Vegas in November. The league was formed by a few casual golfers who wanted the thrill of playing in a tournament but knew they just weren’t very good.
“We play by the rules of golf. A ball goes out of bounds, you’re actually having to take all the penalty strokes – you have to do it the right way. There are no gimme putts inside of 2 feet; you have to knock everything in the hole,” Brennan said.
Handicaps come into play, but in a reversal of how they are traditionally used. A majority of the field is not allowed to use their handicap during play – unless they are too good.
“The MGA believes that a bogey golfer, somebody who shoots around 90 on a normal par 72 course, is ideal. That’s the ideal mediocre spot. Nobody gets shots taken off their score. What we do is penalize the good golfers. If your handicap is 18 or below, you get strokes added to your score,” Brennan said.
Boasting his own MGA handicap of 10, Brennan gets eight strokes added to his score. He said if someone shoots under 80, they are disqualified for being too good. Brennan said there are safeguards to ensure players don’t intentionally add strokes toward the end, but he also thinks a golfer wouldn’t do that.
“If you’re playing in this league and you can shoot 72, you’re gonna go for it, because how often does that happen?” Brennan said.
Brennan and Conklin believe there are a lot of people in the area who would enjoy playing in a league structured the way MGA is. Their goal is to cultivate a friendly, welcoming and inclusive environment for as many people as possible. Players can be as young as 18 and as old as their bodies will still allow them to swing a club. Men and women compete against one another in the tournaments. The Lower Shore Chapter is hoping to schedule tournaments within reasonable distance for golfers in southern Maryland and Delaware.
“We have eight events throughout the year – a couple near Ocean City, a couple in Sussex County and a few in the Salisbury area,” Brennan said.
Remaining cost-friendly is another objective of the MGA. Brennan said the yearly fee has remained under $50 for the last few years, and he hopes to keep the cost of tournaments below $100 per person as well.
“It’s just a bunch of guys and women out there who want to have some fun. There may be a few adult beverages consumed on the course and afterward, but it can be as serious or as laid-back as you want it to be,” Brennan said.