This summer, the Amateur Golf Society invites everyone to take a swing at it's unique model.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro, someone looking to break into the game of golf or you’re just opting to spend some time outdoors and meet some new people this summer—chances are, you’ll enjoy the Amateur Golf Society.
Founded by local Philadelphian Dan Hershberg, this concept was born out of another business he helped create, Workhorse Brewing Co. When 2020 hit, the 70,000 square-foot Workhouse tap house and event space was essentially empty due to COVID. Looking to expand their business model and try to find something that was “pandemic-proof”, Hershberg shifted to thinking outside of the box, or more so, inside of a course.
“We were kind of afforded the opportunity to play offense a little bit more as opposed to the early-stage startup mentality of reacting to keep things alive,” remembers Hershberg. “The long and short of it was that golf was experiencing a renaissance. People were playing in record numbers because it was really one of the only things that people could do during the pandemic. It was socially distanced, it was outside, and it was affordable.”
Golf (for some) also goes hand-in-hand with beer. And golf courses had been buying accounts from the brewery during that time.
“So we thought, okay, it’s a perfect marriage—getting our product out in front of golfers and opening new points of distribution,” Hershberg continued. “And what ended up happening was, by a happy accident, rather than just brew beer to sell the golf courses, we created the concept that is now the AGS Tour.”
Before it was AGS, it was the Workhorse Tour, and what Hershberg learned was that there was a lot of opportunity in the golf space to expand—and in a unique way. With plenty of entrepreneurial experience, he was able to ask a lot of questions and learn from people who had been there before. And that feedback is essential to the success, he claims.
One of those crucial connections was through The Golf Association of Philadelphia.
“We made it a priority to really get a deep understanding of some of the challenges they faced and the successes they’ve had in running golf events and tournaments, and try to apply those to the concept,” continues Hershberg.
And what makes this concept stand out? One large part is the ability to fit the AGS Tour into your schedule. As Hershberg explains, traditionally, golfers have to join a private course in order to compete—which can be pricey and hard to get into in the first place, or, join a golf league, and the latter option typically has a set schedule of its own.
The AGS Tour format and booking platform enables amateurs to play competitive, tournament-style golf on their schedule. The league is dedicated to giving their members the best possible golf experience and the tools to compete at the pinnacle of their ability, no matter what level they are playing at. And it happens at numerous venues across the region, with options shifting weekly.
“The fact that we allow for 18-hole individual stroke play at almost 60 courses in the tri-state area with no minimum commitment—it gives you a lot of flexibility to choose where you want to play, when you wanna play and how you wanna play,” he explains. “So that to me is kind of the main value prop.”
Another beneficial facet is the net format with net flights, allowing all levels to compete.
“Traditionally, it’s very hard to find competitive opportunities or even just league opportunities with people of similar abilities [if you’re starting out],” explains Hershberg. “Now that we have four net divisions plus a women’s and seniors division, it does not matter how good you are or how new you are to the game.”
He continues: “The beautiful thing about our schedule and format is that there pretty much isn’t a schedule that somebody has that won’t allow them access to what we do. Obviously we would love for people to play as much golf with us as possible, but we also understand that people have work and they have kids and they have families, and we don’t anticipate that every round of golf you play will be with a tour.”
The AGS operates on an app, and they worked with their course partners to provide exclusive advanced access to those Tee sheets. Which is gold in the golf world when you account for how hard it can be to get Tee times at popular courses.
Membership-wise, there are a few different options for the organization (such as a discounted senior package and a premium pick with more perks), but the basic comes out to be $75. And when joining AGS, you also get access to some perks and discounts from places like Golf Galaxy. Additionally, when joining, there are opportunities for lessons, club fittings and more to make everyone feel comfortable.
If you do participate in the tournaments, it’s all done through the app as well. And if you thought you could cheat to win, think again.
“One of our partners that we had at the Workhorse Tour that has carried through is a company called Golf Genius,” says Hershberg. “They are arguably the industry-leading tournament software scoring management company out there.”
Tournament scoring also updates immediately. When you play an event on tour, you post your score in the app and then your rank shows up on the leaderboard. At the end of the week (typically Monday morning) they post all of our scores, award points, and then you can see the rank and the number of points that you earned as a result of your efforts from the previous week.
Throughout the season, there are weekly and season-long prizes. And at the end of the season, there is a tour championship, and overall winners get trips to Hilton Properties in the Caribbean.
But overall, the AGS Tour is not just a place to have some fun and win points. It’s a place to build a community.
“Even though it is competitive golf in the sense that we do have weekly leader boards, I think what we offer is so much more than the competition side,” Hershberg finishes. “Regardless of if you think you’re ever going to win an event—you’re going to get a great way to improve your game, you’re going to meet people you like, you’re going to go to new places you’ve never played before, and you’re going to be part of something that’s exciting.”