NEWPORT, Pa. (WHTM) – Austin “Showtime” Ebersole from Newport, Pennsylvania is the top athlete in the new professional sport of FlingGolf and spends his days training and traveling the country competing in tournaments.
“Fling Golf allows me to be me,” said Ebersole. “I don’t have to act like somebody I’m not.”
FlingGolf has only been an organized sport since 2022 and Ebersole has been the No. 1 ranked player by World League FlingGolf (WLF) at the end of both WLF seasons.
The game is similar to golf with the same par and objective of putting the ball in the cup, but the ball is thrown with a stick similar to a lacrosse stick instead of being hit. The other major difference is that just one flingstick is used instead of alternating golf clubs.
“Think snowboarding and skiing,” Ebersole said. “Playing on the same course, going down the same slopes, but just doing it in a different way.”
Ebersole was introduced to FlingGolf in 2019 at the PGA Show in Florida. Ebersole moved from Newport with his wife to Delaware where her family owns the American Classic Golf Club and where Ebersole is now general manager. While Ebersole was at the PGA Show he was looking for something for families to do at the golf course because he acknowledged golf can sometimes take a while to learn.
There, Ebersole saw the now owners and commissioners of WLF throwing golf balls into a net with flingsticks. Ebersole was hooked. He bought some sticks for the golf club and his family all started playing for fun.
In 2021, the owners of WLF went on Shark Tank and earned a deal. Producers at ESPN saw the show and took an interest in the sport and told the owners that if they had a tournament they would cover it. The owners called Ebersole in January of 2022 and asked to hold the first-ever FlingGolf competition at Ebersole and his family’s golf course.
The American Classic was held in May of 2022 with players from 19 states competing.
“At this time probably 5,000 to 8,000 people [were] playing, but nobody [had] ever played with anybody because there was never any reason to,” Ebersole said. “It was just people playing for fun.”
Ebersole came in 4th in the tournament and his competitive nature was sparked. Ebersole is a professional golfer and has a background in baseball, basketball and football. At Newport High School Ebersole played varsity baseball for four years and varsity basketball for two. He combined what he learned from those sports to begin seriously competing at FlingGolf.
At the second-ever tournament at Massanutten Resort in Virginia Ebersole placed first.
“I went all in,” Ebersole said. “I trained properly, I got sponsors and it was cool. Then they came out with a world ranking and because I had a fourth place in Delaware and a first in Virginia I had the best two finishes. I became the first-ever number one ranked World League FlingGolf player.”
Ebersole was just named the No. 1 player again for this past season, making him the only person to ever be ranked No. 1 at this point. This year Ebersole won two of the five events and placed second, third and fourth in the other events.
Ebersole now has his own brand surrounding his game of FlingGolf, complete with his nickname “Showtime” which he was given by spectators for his behavior on the course. Ebersole doesn’t follow normal golf etiquette because he doesn’t have to in FlingGolf and because showmanship is part of his natural personality.
“Whenever I’m putting if it’s really awkwardly quiet and 50 to 100 people [are] watching, I’ll go like Hulk Hogan and I’ll try to get people cheering before I do the shot,” Ebersole said. “If anybody watches the ESPN stuff they’ll see me do some Happy Gilmore things where I’ll ride the pony. It’s just about having fun.”
Ebersole sells his brand’s merchandise and has a custom flingstick available for purchase. Two weeks ago in Virginia, he won his third individual men’s championship and at that competition, he ran into a competitor that was using his stick.
Ebersole had met the man and his son in Colorado earlier this year where Ebersole won the Colorado Open and he had given the boy stickers along with a ball. The boys’ father remembered this gesture and decided to buy Ebersole’s stick. Three months later they got to meet on the course as competitors.
“It’s so cool; It’s things you dream about,” Ebersole said.
Ebersole uses FlingGolf to help others as well and has competed in charity events including the 100 Hole Hike to raise money for youth.
No matter where FlingGolf takes him though, Ebersole never forgets where he is from.
“I’m very proud to be from Newport, specifically East Newport,” Ebersole said. “On my ESPN profile, it says that my hometown is East Newport. I do that because East Newport is not necessarily the nicest place to live. . . . it’s viewed as the rough part of town and I’m very proud to represent that area. Very proud of being from the 717.”