"Face it, you suck. Join the MGA."
That's the pitch from the Mediocre Golf Association, an organization aimed at golfers who will never win the green jacket at The Masters. (Tweet This) Instead, the MGA offers players a chance to win big checks for very little money in tournaments like "The Bastards."
"It started out as a joke," said MGA co-founder Jon Morley, a former race car driver who helped form the MGA while golfing with friends. "We started talking about all the ways we're different and we're the same as pros." The differences were pretty clear, but the similarities? "We are striving to be the best that we can achieve, but the best that we can achieve is at a mediocre level."
The MGA held its first tournament in 2006 in San Francisco. It has since expanded to 60 chapters in several countries, with 1,100 members. Each member pays $40-$60 to join, and there are eight tournaments scheduled over eight months leading up to the World Championship in Las Vegas. Tournaments parody PGA names.
The Pebble Beach Pro-Am becomes the MGA Rebel Beach Am-Am. Instead of calling themselves "pros" as shorthand for "professionals," MGA members are called "medios," short for "mediocres." Regular golf rules are followed, but instead of par, players aim to shoot "mar," which is 90, or a bogie on every hole. Morley said, "This helps people feel better about themselves." Additionally, unlike regular golf, MGA penalizes players who are too good. Anyone with a handicap under 18 has strokes added.
The most mediocre part of all is the prize money. The total purse at every event is .000001 percent of the equivalent purse at the PGA event they're parodying. For example, if the purse at Pebble Beach totals $6 million, the Rebel Beach purse will total ... $6. The winner gets 18 percent of that, or $1.08. Each tournament has its own trophy, and the prize money is presented in an oversize check. "People like big checks," said Morley.
Last year's top money winner was Australian Luke Germaney, who earned $8.04 with an average score of 101. "He dominated," said Morley.
Morley said the MGA brought in about $200,000 in revenue in 2014. The organization was profitable, Morley said, though he declined to quantify earnings. He has big(ish) plans for his mediocre endeavor. This year the association is selling merchandise. Some local chapters have gotten sponsors like Hooters. Morley figures he needs to grow the association to 3,000 members for it to become his full-time job, and "we need 5,000 to matter to sponsors."
However, he's not seeking out traditional golf sponsors such as Titleist or Callaway Golf, but rather beer companies. "The more golf struggles and the better we do, the more attractive we become to sponsors."