A group of around 15 amateur golfers — members of the West Valley AZ Mediocre Golf Association — talked trash, hung out and even took a few swings at Valley Golf Center in Avondale on a Thursday night after work. The local chapter of the nationwide association calls their weekly outings “church.”
“We come here and pray the golf gods make us better,” chapter President Jon Whipple said, smiling.
Trolling social media for a consistent set of golf buddies, who would not outshine his skills — or lack thereof — on the course, he found the Phoenix chapter, and the fit was instant.
“I wanted a group of people I knew would regularly come out and play, but people who didn’t take any of this too seriously, and just were here to have a good time,” Johnson said.
He joined the Phoenix MGA, but events were often held in Gilbert or other eastern cities and towns. He and a few other members wanted the same atmosphere, but in closer proximity to their western homes.
In 2017, the West Valley chapter was born, and, at one point, held an association-high 62 members. The group aims to provide an outlet to play the sport socially for a fair price with the camaraderie of plenty of players who are energized to play, but not so much that they actually find themselves getting very much better.
The MGA holds tournaments about once a month, usually with names mocking those of major golf championships and competitions surrounding the professional game — Whipple won the “Bratish Open” in July — with a score of 87.
“I had a pool party at my house and got them all drunk; that’s why I won,” he joked.
Whipple stood proudly with a giant promotional check reading $1.26 for first place, enough to place him in the top 150 association-wide.
As of print time, Toledo chapter golfer John Yarder was atop the association’s global leader board with a total of $5.79 in winnings. The money seems to serve as much as something to laugh at as anything else.
If not already silly enough, nearly every recent competition for the West Valley chapter has included a “John Daly” hole, according to Johnson, named after the infamous party-animal professional golfer. Players have to chug a can of beer and use a John Daly club — far too big and powerful to be used on a regular golf course — that the group found on the grass at a past event to tee off.
Thus, it is not shocking to say the tournaments, despite having a winner at the end, are hardly anything more than friendly competition.
Johnson, whose nickname is “Average” — nearly everybody has a different moniker — has won awards for being exactly in the middle of the pack in tournament scorekeeping. The group even awards the last-place finisher, which, rather than embarrassment, many members wear as a badge of honor. But that does not mean the players on the course don’t act like they want to beat each other in the moment.
“There’s always some trash talk going on, maybe a little side bet on a hole or something, but it’s all in fun. Nobody’s taking any of it too seriously; that’s the point.” Johnson said.
The group is not just centered around playing golf, either. Johnson said the group will host cookouts for members, or take a road trip to the Waste Management Phoenix Open each year in Scottsdale. Even members of other MGA chapters are welcome to hang out on vacation to the area.
“We just kind of become friends on the course, and then we keep hanging out and doing a lot of different stuff. It’s just fun,” Johnson said.
Always looking for members, West Valley AZ MGA encourages potential members to visit their Facebook page or their chapter website, mgatour.com/chapters/west-valley-az. Annual chapter fees are around $40, and players will pay for participation in church or other competitions.