Jon Morley is a race car driver. He drives fast.
Jon Morley is a golfer. He likes to play fast.
Jon Morley is also the founder and "El Presidente" of the Mediocre Golf Association (MGA). With his tongue firmly in his cheek, Morley's association has embraced mediocre golfers who play for fun and competition that rewards, well, mediocrity. It's "casual competition" (I think I just coined a phrase), and with it, he's created a way to remove the "slug" factor from MGA events and admonish those whose slow play habits are reviewed and met with humorous disdain. So please read on and learn the solution to our perpetual "slow play" problem.
I first wrote about the MGA 11 years ago in an article exploring the "Alternative Golf Universe." Included was the flash-in-the-pan, poorly branded, and quickly defunct Flogton (notgolf spelled backward) led by Sun Microsystems founder Scott McNealy who attempted to gain relevance by hosting a gaggle of golf executives at his home on Pebble Beach's 16th hole. Unfortunately for McNealy, the impressive view likely stuck better than the presentation. In the end, golfers, or aspiring ones, were not attracted to a dumbed-down, Al Czervik-friendly version of the sport (thanks to Geoff Shackleford for the "Caddyshack" reference).
The MGA survives and has grown because it embraces all that golf's about while not taking itself too seriously. It's now 83 chapters and over 3,000 members scattered across the US, Hawaii, Canada, and Australia, where its trademarked name prevented Greg Norman from grabbing it. Membership costs just $43 a year, and $63 for access to "advanced stats."
Each chapter plays eight events annually, culminating in a "world championship" in Las Vegas in November. Last year's event drew 345 mediocre members, including eight or nine women. And all it takes is to remain mediocre because getting better risks penalization.
The MGA has its own handicap calculation based upon bogey golf or an 18 handicap. Morley tells members that "bogey golf is great, mediocre golf." If your MGA handicap drops below 18, say to a 15, the player is penalized three strokes in their next event. However, players don't "get" strokes when over the 18 threshold. They just have to get better. Morley tells the story of a 12-year member who won for the first time with an 86 after previous scores of 100/99/97/99.
An emphasis on fast play keeps members happy and willing to play more both in MGA events and elsewhere, having learned habits that move them around a course with satisfying pace and efficiency. It's Morley's "Slug Index," and there is something to learn here that course operators can pass on to leagues, members, and regular customers.
The "Slug Index" is Morely's solution to slow play. Think of "Yelp" for golfers.
MGA Members can post two reviews per year for each player and only players in their chapter. They'll post one to tell them where to improve and then hopefully re-rate them later in the year with a positive update. Reviews are anonymous and submitted at any time; when a review pops up, it's not necessarily the guys you just played with.
The Slug Index page is accessible in the member's "Clubhouse" on the MGA site (basically the User area). Members can choose a player to review on the slug index page and see their current index and past reviews submitted about them. They'll see the rating for that review, which is an average of six categories. Members can click on each review to see the details and figure out where their pace could use the most improvement. The six categories, rated on 1-7 scoring, are:
Morley has witnessed some weaponizing of the slug index (people giving a guy 7s across the board just because they don't like him). However, that doesn't really affect the players standing since the index is just a tool for self-improvement and doesn't factor into their handicap or status on tour. Morley says, "I believe that weaponization is rare and that most people who go to the trouble of reviewing someone are genuinely trying to help the player understand where his pace is strong and where it could use improvement. I haven't heard of any stories of animosity on the course. I think the anonymous aspect of it helps there." Chapter leaders can see each player's index when forming groups for each event, enabling them to evenly distribute the slow players to ensure a foursome of slugs doesn't clog the entire course. Below are screenshots of how the Slug Index appears to members to see their personal ratings and to rate another member. This is the detailed view you can see when someone reviews you:
- Readiness when it's their turn.
- Full swing pre-shot routine.
- Short game pre-shot routine.
- Green reading routine.
- Time spent looking for lost balls.
- Overall pace of play.