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SortaGolf hopes to take root

Shane SharpBy Shane Sharp,

He goes by the alias of "Don Glenn" to protect himself from the wrath from United States Golf Association. To his followers, all 2,685 of them, he is a revolutionary of Che Guevarian proportions. He is, well, we can't tell you who he is. But, who he is isn't important.

SortaGolf, he calls it.

No stuffy, complicated USGA rules with sections, subsections, and exceptions here. Just seven basic "Sorta Amendments" designed to simplify an oftentimes perplexing game: always improve your lie, double bogey is max, inside the pole is good, one in - one out, any found ball is yours, equipment; it's all good, and Mulligan to taste.

"SortaGolf puts into rules what people already do," Glenn says. "For example, the first rule is always improve your lie. This doesn't mean move the ball into the fairway, it means you can move it in the general area. The seven rules are about damage control and it has the potential to speed up play."

Mulligan to taste has the potential to speed up play? No, but Glenn says that taken collectively, the seven Sorta Amendments could easily shave a half hour off a foursome's round. Glenn developed the cadre of rules after years and years of watching his former fraternity brothers bend (and break) the USGA rules during their annual golf outing.

"I started to look into the data of how many people adhere to the USGA rules and it was staggering," he says. "Only 23 percent admitted to adhering to the strict interpretation of the rules according to a golfonline.com survey."

A guy with an alias. A playing method modeled after a 12-pack-a-cart fraternity brother party. Is this guy serious? Well, not really. Glenn says the majority of the SortaGolf Web site, SortaGolf.com, is tongue-in-cheek. No, USGA Executive Director David Fay doesn't have his crack team of lawyers working feverishly around the clock to dismantle SortaGolf. Nor does former president Bill Clinton know he's an honorary member.

Glenn has never spoken to Fay and says no one at the USGA returns his phone calls. And in all honestly, he doubts any one at the esteemed organization really cares.

"I don't think they are losing any sleep over it," Glenn says. "But that isn't the point of it all."

If you'd like join SortaGolf's other quasi members in their quest to liberate the game from the shackles of the USGA -- it's free. The marketing consultant by day, SortaGolf icon by night hopes only to one day recoup his costs by selling SortaGolf gear.

Just another Internet savvy guy with too much time on his hands? Not so fast. Glenn does have a dream of one day shaking up the million dollar business of the corporate scramble.

"The ultimate end is to replace the scramble as the corporate golf tournament of choice with SortaGolf," he says. "The scramble is not a satisfying situation for most golfers. You don't get to play your own ball and it takes five or six hours. How is that fun?

Glenn proposes using the Sorta seven amendments in a best-ball format or a team gross score. While the SortaGolf concept is only officially seven weeks old, it may have found a home.

"We have a huge corporate scramble here in (city blanked out to protect the guilty) that is considering testing the Sorta seven in their tournament," he says.

Glenn is relying solely on the Internet to spread the Sorta word. As a one-man operation with no real budget to speak off, he can reach thousands of potential SortaGolfers every week by simply maintaining the SortaGolf Web site. The best thing going at SortaGolfer.com is undoubtedly the SortaGolf quiz.

"Are you ready to declare your independence from the USGA?" Glen shouts on the other end of the phone when asked what the quiz is all about.

The 10-question quiz includes questions like:

"For Father's Day, your wife gives you a new Callaway ERC driver, which has been branded non-conforming by the USGA but is legal outside the U.S."

The correct answer choice, "ask if she's got some hot balls, too," is covered by Sorta amendment six - Equipment; it's all good.

"Hopefully we'll develop a grassroots following," Glenn says.

David Fay, that's Don Glenn knocking on the doors of the USGA headquarters, and he's bringing SortaGolf in with him.

David. David? Hello. David are you there?

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of TravelGolf.com from 1997 to 2003.

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