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LIers Brendan McAuley, Matt Moss develop Chippo, a cornhole-style golf game

Part cornhole, part golf, this Chippo Golf Ultimate

Part cornhole, part golf, this Chippo Golf Ultimate Backyard BBQ Game sets up in minutes in any backyard or beach. Designed by two Hicksville natives, the set includes everything except golf clubs, and features multiple game variations for every level of player. Credit: Chippo

Because he never met a competition he didn’t like, Brendan McAuley challenged himself to a game while he was cleaning up after a backyard party a few years ago. The target board from cornhole, a backyard beanbag-tossing contest, was still up, so he started chipping golf balls into it.

Just for laughs, he and longtime Hicksville buddy and brother-in-law Matt Moss created their own simple game from that random event. It entailed chipping foam golf balls off a mat into targets on a slanted board. Just for fun, they brought a prototype to Tobay Beach.

“We got swarmed by people: `What is this? Where do you get it?’ and so on. I didn’t really have many different answers at that point. We were like, ‘Maybe we should put this away and try to make something out of it,’ ” Moss said.

Just like that, the two men in their mid-30s were on their way to marketing “Chippo,” which has become a national sensation. Their backyard/beach game was selected as the Best New Product at the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show. Their small company has a licensing deal with the PGA Tour, which showcases Chippo at numerous tournaments, including the Northern Trust to be held next week at Jersey City’s Liberty National.

The partners, who are married to sisters (also from Hicksville), have brought their game to Augusta during the Masters and to Pebble Beach during the U.S. Open. They have signed on with more than 100 charities — including the Tiger Woods Foundation— that either give Chippo as prizes or get people to play it as part of fundraisers. Pro shops carry Chippo, as do Ace Hardware stores and amazon.com.

“It has been an incredible experience, from going out to the Tiger Woods Invitational or Tiger Jam, meeting people like John Daly,” McAuley said. “Recently, there was a video online where Dustin Johnson and Webb Simpson were playing Chippo at a tournament. To see the top golfers in the world playing a game that came out of your brain is something that you’d never think was real, but it’s very cool.”

There was more trial and error than research in development before the two designers launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2017. McAuley and Moss went back and forth before deciding on the rules and the materials. For instance, they decided on a dense foam rubber ball to avoid breaking anything or hurting anybody.

Moss said, “When Brendan had the idea, what made it easier to get excited about was that we were both our target market. When you’re building a product and wondering how you’re going to market a product to yourself, it makes things a lot easier.”

Chippo’s premise is simple: score points by chipping the ball into one of the targets. The execution is difficult, as the two men know as avid golfers — average to below-average, they say—who grew up playing municipal courses at Cantiague Park, Eisenhower Park and Bethpage. McAuley said that he and Moss like the fact that their invention connects with golf’s grassroots public and philanthropic sides. They are proud of the “Chippo for Charity” page on chippogolf.com.

Moss, having relocated with his family to North Carolina, works full-time for a software firm. McAuley is in the finance industry. “We love what we do,” the latter said. “Chippo is a second full-time job that we love. You find the time.”

They still find the time to play their own game, too. Their motto is “BYOW—Bring Your Own Wedge.”

“For a while, we were the two best Chippo players in the world, before people found out about it,” McAuley said. “Matt is still very good and consistently takes money from me, but I’m working my hardest to get better.”

Outings

Iona basketball coach Tim Cluess will be the honoree at the 26th Annual CYO of Long Island Golf Outing at Hempstead Golf & Country Club Sept. 16. Details are available at cyoli.org…The 17th Annual Catholic Charities Golf Classic will be Sept. 23 at the Meadow Brook Club in Jericho. Bill Ayers, senior vice president at Bank of America, will be the honoree. Visit catholiccharities.cc.

‘Serious misconduct’

This week’s episode of Don’t Try This at Your Course: Trey Bilardello, a tour caddie who has carried for the LPGA’s Annie Park of Levittown among others, deliberately shot 202 in a U.S. Amateur qualifier earlier this month.

The son of former major league catcher Dann Bilardello started off playing normally, his playing partner Kristian Fortis told Golf Channel. But after having made a seven on his third hole of the round and a 10 on the next one, Bilardello apparently gave up on trying for a good score. “After the first nine, he said that he wanted to shoot the highest recorded score in USGA history,” Fortis told the TV outlet, adding that the golfer intentionally hit putts in the opposite direction of the cup.

U.S. Golf Association officials were not amused or impressed. Citing Rule 1.2 for “serious misconduct,” they disqualified him from the rest of the tournament.

ACES

Liz Pippo, Eisenhower Blue, fourth hole, 130 yards, 3-wood

Patricia Coppola, Southward Ho CC, ninth hole, 90 yards, 7-hybrid

Murray Kowalsky, Woodside Club, third hole, 155 yards, 6-iron

Ed Carey, Bethpage Green, 11th hole, 171 yards, 6-iron

Marc Davis, Bethpage Red, 12th hole, 151 yards, 4-iron

Anthony Frick, Baiting Hollow Club, eighth hole, 167 yards, 8-iron

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