An association parodying the PGA has managed to get a burst of momentum by holding tournaments for players who can’t get below par—perfect for those who roll their eyes at The Masters. And yes, it started as a joke.
“Fat Mike” Burkett—a punk-rock icon known for his bands NOFX and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, as well as for his record label Fat Wreck Chords—is perhaps the most famous member of an association that’s gotten a lot of mileage out of a gag. It’s a group that holds tournaments embracing the terrible golfers of the world. If you like the Razzies, you’ll love the MGA.
We are striving to be the best that we can achieve, but the best that we can achieve is at a mediocre level.
“It started out as a joke,” MGA cofounder Jon Morley told CNBC last week, in the midst of a more prominent tournament, the Masters. “We started talking about all the ways we’re different and we’re the same as pros. … We are striving to be the best that we can achieve, but the best that we can achieve is at a mediocre level.”
The group, which got its start in 2006, has fully embraced the idea of counterprogramming, holding PGA-parodying tournaments at local chapters around the country. The players compete for to shoot for “mar”—meaning you want to bogey on every hole to win. Not that there’s much to win: The MGA money list shows that awful golfers are competing for pennies on the dollar in tournaments with names that some newspapers wouldn’t print.
“The MGA does not discriminate with handicaps; it encourages players of all skill levels, except those with skill levels higher than ours,” the association’s website explains. “If you are a good golfer, move along, there’s nothing for you to see here.”
(That line about not using handicaps is only half true. The association handicaps good golf players, ensuring that everyone finishes with a terrible score.)
MGA’s founders told CNBC that the venture has been successful and is seeing steady growth. With membership dues in the $40 to $60 range, the association has expanded to 60 local chapters, with 1,100 members worldwide. Revenue topped $200,000 last year.
In the long run, MGA hopes to grow large enough to become a full-time gig for the organization’s founders, Morley said that could happen with a membership count around 3,000. If it gets bigger than that, there’s always the potential for sponsorships.
“The more golf struggles and the better we do, the more attractive we become to sponsors,” Morley said.