In 2011, Roberto Balestrini was sitting in front of his TV waiting for a soccer match from Argentina to start when he saw the game of FootGolf. From that moment his life has been consumed with bringing the sport of FootGolf to North America. Roberto is the Founder of the American FootGolf League (AFGL) and helped start the FootGolf Association of Canada, Federacion Mexicana de FootGolf, Puerto Rico FootGolf League and the North American FootGolf Alliance. He sits as a Sport Development Adviser for the board of the Federation for International FootGolf (FIFG).
Roberto and his wife Laura run the AFGL and are supporting hundreds of golf course owners and operators in nearly every state establish FootGolf as a new activity at their facilities with tremendous success. In 2014 the US Pro-AM series of competitions took place with one competition on each coast. In 2015 they will offer four Pro-Am Tournaments, two on each side of the country, and will introduce the National Championship in November. In January 2016 the AFGL will represent the US in the second edition of the FIFG World Cup. Born and raised in Argentina, Roberto brought his dreams and his passion to this country over 20 years ago and now is pursuing his American dream. Along with developing the sport at the introductory level with courses, he is paving the path to start a professional league for FootGolf around the World.
Tam O’Shanter is a 36-hole public course sixty miles south of Cleveland, Ohio. Chuck Bennell is a third-generation shareholder and current president of the corporation owned by members of two unrelated families. The families have been partners in the golf business since 1928.
Chuck is a former president of the Ohio Golf Course Owners Association and a former board member and officer of the National Golf Course Owners Association. Tam O’Shanter was voted “Best Public Golf Course in Stark County” for five years in a row, and in 2013 the company received the “Small Business of the Year” award and the “Business Excellence” award from two local Chambers of Commerce.
Michael Gaston is a twenty-six year old who started playing golf at the age of seven, literally growing up at Tam O'Shanter Golf Course. His heart was always basketball but due to an injury, he decided to join the high school golf team. Today, Michael's biggest challenges are finding enough time to play the game and finding playing partners his age. A ten handicap, Mike plays in a weekly league at Tam O'Shanter. He enjoys learning about new equipment each year, loves it when he pulls off a purely-struck iron, and likes to play fast.
Greg Gerber started playing golf at The Elms Country Club in Massillon, Ohio at the age of fifteen but didn't receive his first set of new clubs until high school graduation. Playing to a twelve handicap, he loves the time outdoors, companionship, and competition that the game of golf provides. Like most of us, he dislikes three-putting immensely. Greg is still upset (after 53 years of trying) about not making a hole in one. Yet.
Loretta Gerber took up the game seriously at the tender young age of thirty in a nine-hole women's league at the Lyons Den Golf Course in Canal, Fulton, Ohio. She graduated to subsequent women's leagues elsewhere in the Canton area, including the Stark County Women's Amateur Golf Association at Tam O'Shanter Golf Course. She is currently serving her sixth year as president of the SCWAGA. Loretta has played numerous public and private clubs, including Firestone Country Club. Her favorite shot in golf is the tee shot with her driver, "Nothing pleases me more than to see my drive land in the middle of the fairway." She would prefer sand bunkers were extinct.
Brian Graham is the executive director of the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA), the international governing body for the sport of disc golf. In his role he manages 9 full-time staff members who service over 2,200 sanctioned events and nearly 30,000 members in 38 countries each year.
Graham’s experience in the sport prior to leading the PDGA includes disc golf course design and serving as the tournament director of two Disc Golf World Championships, the United States Disc Golf Championship, the U.S Masters Championship and the Disc Golf Hall of Fame Classic National Tour event, for which he was honored as the 2003 PDGA tournament director of the year.
As a PDGA member and volunteer, Brian founded and developed the PDGA International Disc Golf Center in 2004 just outside of Augusta, Georgia, to serve as the first permanent headquarters for the organization, as well as a multi-course competition, training, and educational facility. In 2007, he was hired by the PDGA following a 22-year career in civil and environmental engineering, and the organization has more than doubled in size since that time.
Greg Guinn came to the game of golf after a baseball injury curtained his career. Golf, as for many others, provided Greg the natural outlet so many athletes crave. The game also provided the best way to conduct business without interruptions on the golf course as President of Queen City Metals in Clarksville, Tennessee.
The idea for the River Club came out of discussions of nine close-knit friends who saw first-hand how a junior golf program made a difference in their children's lives as well as their own. The River Club was born out of the desire to provide a venue where golfers of all ages and abilities could have access to the game.
Brian Huntley attended The Ohio State University and attained his degree in Landscape Architecture in 1986. After graduating, he started his career in golf course architecture with Arthur Hills and Associates. He worked on new projects as well as established golf courses. After seven years of experience, he joined the American Society of Golf Course Architects and started his own firm. He is now President of Golf Sense, Inc., a full service golf course architecture business.
The last 23 years he has focused his work in the Midwest, designing over 30 new golf courses and working on over 75 master plans and renovations to existing golf facilities. His approach to design is to enhance the natural beauty of a site; work with natural site characteristics; create a unique identity; think strategy, not difficulty to accommodate all golfers; consider cost efficiency in construction and maintenance; and be environmentally sensitive. His desire on every project is to create a fun, strategic golf course within realistic budgets and to leave a sustainable project and a happy client.
Stuart Lindsay is the Principal of Edgehill Golf Advisors, a golf consulting and market research company located in Mequon (Milwaukee), WI. Since its founding in 1989, Edgehill has provided services to an eclectic mix of clients including banks, accounting firms, golf software companies, golf course appraisers, and golf management firms along with daily fee, private and municipal golf courses. Edgehill has also provided feasibility findings and reviews in addition to financial analysis for new and existing facilities.
Mr. Lindsay has been widely quoted on golf business issues in The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, GolfInc, Sports Illustrated, Golf Course News, GolfWeek and Golf Business.
Mr. Lindsay completed his honors thesis and a BA in History at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. He served on the program faculty for the Farm Equipment Wholesalers Association and has been a guest lecturer at Cardinal Stritch University and the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.
Kevin Kane is the publisher and editor of Virginia Golf Report, a regional print magazine that he founded in 2007. His background in golf is extensive and began as a caddie at the age of 12 in the Westchester County area of New York. After success as a junior player, Kevin continued his playing career at the collegiate level. Kevin is also a former president of the Richmond Golf Association.
In 2011, the Middle Atlantic section of the PGA honored Kevin with its Earle Hellen Sports Media Award for his contributions in the golf community and promotion of golf. He’s a member of both the Golf Writer’s Association of America as well as the International Network of Golf. In 2014 Kevin won top honors in the ING annual Media Awards writing competition in the category of Opinion/Editorial. He also picked up an Outstanding Achiever honor in 2012 for his article titled “Brown vs. Green”, a piece that highlighted the advantages of golf courses using less water. In all, he’s won five Media Awards from the International Network of Golf. He’s currently working on two different book projects.
Richard Mandell is the Founder of the Symposium on Affordable Golf. Since 1992, he has worked on over fifty golf course projects of all shapes and sizes. He is currently working on projects that stretch from Georgia to Minnesota. Richard's work has been nationally recognized, receiving awards for design in three decades, most recently Renovation of the Year - Municipal by Golf Magazine for his work at Keller Golf Course in St. Paul, Minnesota.In 2011, Richard was named one of the Fifteen Most Influential Architects by GolfInc. Magazine. He is an Associate in the American Society of Golf Course Architects and is the first Golf Architect who is also a Certified Arborist. Richard also wrote and published the book, "The Legendary Evolution of Pinehurst: Home of American Golf". For more information visit www.golf-architecture.com.
Don Nist, of Canton, Ohio started playing golf at the tender age of ten years old as a caddy at Brookside Country Club in the morning. He then played Tam O'Shanter Golf Course during the afternoons. From there, he went on to have an illustrious career in local golf that brought him all the way to the first class of the Stark County Amateur Golf Hall of Fame and the Ohio Golf Hall of Fame. Don played three years of varsity golf at Ohio State University and he qualified for the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Senior Amateur multiple times in his career. He currently is a golf course evaluator for Golf Digest Magazine.
Dr. Frank Rossi is Professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University where he teaches a variety of horticultural science courses. His research and extension programs focus on maximizing turfgrass performance while reserving environmental quality. Most recently he has published two new websites, Best Management Practices to Protect Water Quality on Golf Courses and Investing in Safe Sports Fields, as well as a Lawn Care iBook, and co-authored the 5th Edition of Turfgrass Science and Management with his Mentor Professor Bob Emmons.
Frank has been recognized as among the most influential people in the turf and green industries on several occasions in his career by publications such as Golfweek and SportsTurf Magazine. Recently he was awarded the 2012 Environmental Communicator of the Year by the Communication Association of the Green Industry.
Frank has served as lead turf consultant for NYC’s Central Park, the New York Yankees, and the 2002 and 2009 US Open Golf Championships at Bethpage Black. In addition to his career in turf, Frank is married and the father of three children, President of his local school board, and a Gentleman Farmer specializing in pasture raised alpaca, pigs and poultry.
Rick Snode has been in the golf business for most of his 58 years. He is one of the 2nd generation owners and operators of Tannenhauf Golf Club in Alliance,Ohio. Rick also serves as President and General Manager of this public golf course that opened in 1959.
Tannenhauf has been the site of 2 Ohio Public Links Championships as well as many college and high school tournaments. Tannenhauf was recognized in 2000 with the Ohio Golf Course Owners Association's Golf Course of the Year and in 2007 the Award of Excellence.
Rick is past president of the former Ohio Golf Course Owners Association(now the Buckeye Golf Association) and currently serves on its board of directors and is the vice president. He is in his 11th year as golf coach at Marlington High School and taught golf classes at the University of Mount Union. Rick is married and is the father of 3 daughters.
Alex Van Alen developed and invented FlingGolf and the FlingStick, and created PlusOne Sports to produce the sticks and promote the sport. He played High School Lacrosse and has been a golfer since he was 6 years old, drawing on both of those sports to develop FlingGolf. He has since worked closely with golf course owners across the country to help them bring in a new source of revenue by introducing FlingGolf to their courses.
Prior to PlusOne Sports, Alex was involved in several conservation organizations, and worked to protect open spaces, including golf courses, and promote outdoor recreation opportunities for people, especially younger ones.
Alex lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts with his wife and 2 sons, both avid FlingGolfers. PlusOne Sports is located in Amesbury, Massachusetts, from where the FlingSticks are assembled and shipped.
Debbie Waitkus is President and Founder of Golf for Cause®−Turn Golf into Gold® and Co-Founder and Partner of the National Women’s Golf Alliance, an organization that evaluates and certifies golf facilities for how well they “Roll Out the Green Carpet™” for women. Waitkus is Past-President of Women in the Golf Industry (WIGI) and author of the popular book Get Your Golf On! − Your Guide to Getting in the Game. Golf for Cause teaches organizations how to leverage the business power of golf through events, business-golf education, motivational speaking and consultation. Waitkus has been both speaker and moderator for the PGA of America, the National Golf Course Owners Association, Crittenden Golf, National Bank of Arizona, Navigate Research, among others. She appears in numerous media outlets, sits on several national and community boards and is a recipient of the YWCA Sports Leadership award.
Rick earned his Chartered Financial Analyst® designation in 1991 after previously receiving a BA in Economics from Virginia Military Institute and an MBA from Virginia Polytechnical Institute. He joined the consulting practice at Touche Ross in 1983 as an Associate Consultant and achieved the position of Senior Manager with the successor firm, Deloitte & Touche, where he helped manage the firm’s Travel & Leisure Industry practice and provided financial services consulting to the firm’s clients. From 1998-2002 Rick served as Senior Vice President for Business Operations and Administration at the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority. From 2002-2004 he was a Portfolio Manager for Fahnestock Asset Management, a division of Oppenheimer & Co.
Rick is a founding member of the Tillinghast Association and member of Baltusrol Golf Club and has served in several leadership positions with this historic Tillinghast course. He co-authored the Baltusrol’s Centennial History book, Baltusrol 100 Years, in 1995 and co-edited three volumes of Tillinghast’s writings, The Course Beautiful, Reminiscence of the Links, andGleanings from the Wayside. Most recently he assisted Baltusrol in its nomination process for National Landmark status which was designated last year by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service. Rick carries a high handicap and prefers to play with vintage hickory clubs rather than modern steel and composite clubs.
Stuart graduated from Seton Hall University in 1990 with degrees in History and Art History. After graduation he pursued a career in the art working at the Smithsonian Institution’s American Art Museum and the National Gallery of Art in the Paintings Conservation Department for four years. In 1996 he left the Arts to pursue his hand in sales in printing and the graphics arts. He is a founding member of the Tillinghast Association and member of Baltusrol Golf Club and a former member of the Baltimore Country Club, and has served in several leadership positions with both historic Tillinghast courses. He did the research and co-authored the Baltusrol’s Centennial History book, Baltusrol 100 Years, in 1995 and researched and co-edited the three volumes of Tillinghast’s writings, The Course Beautiful, Reminiscence of the Links, and Gleanings from the Wayside. Most recently Stuart oversaw the renovation and archival preservation of Baltusrol’s archive room and is actively helping digitizing the collection. Stuart carries a medium handicap and enjoys playing as many rounds as his schedule can fit.