Headline: Local Company’s Creation Hopes To Inspire Others To Play Golf

For Immediate Release: July 6, 2016

Fred Golinko

Norton, MA Fred Golinko has been an avid golfer for the majority of his life. Like many others, the love for the game was passed down to him from his father when he was only nine years old and ever since, the desire to be out on the golf course has been unyielding.

When not running his company, Golinko Design, Inc., a successful design firm in Newton that specializes in branding, packaging, and graphic design for startups and midsize companies alike, Golinko can be found at one of the Bay State’s many golf courses, including Blue Hill Country Club – where he has been a member for the last 16 years.  

In recent years however, golf for Golinko has been a little more challenging than just making par.

Eight years ago, Golinko was diagnosed with a meningioma, a tumor on the surface of the brain that has required multiple operations and intensive radiation. Understandably, it has affected his ability to play golf. Fortunately, the meningioma has been erradicated, but its effects remain.

"It was in the area of my brain that controls feeling and control of my legs," said Golinko . "For the last four years, I have been fighting this lack of control. In addition, my balance has been compromised in a way that makes swinging a golf club extremely challenging."

As a result, the 71-year-old Golinko has had to rely on the use of a handicap flag – a small item that one attaches to his or her golf cart that shows other players that the driver of the cart is physically compromised and requires special allowences to be able to play. The allowences include: driving the cart closer to their ball, including areas that are often off limits to motorized golf carts, and in some cases, even driving onto the teeing area.

These handicap flags are often kept at the pro shop of each course and are handed out on a case-by-case basis. But for Golinko, whose need for a handicap flag has persisted, receiving a handicap flag can be a process.

“I’ve noticed that as I’ve gone to different golf clubs, some of them didn’t have flags or simply ran out of them.”

And that’s when he got an idea. An individual who has made a career out of design work since graduating from Harvard in 1967, Golinko decided that he would make his own personal handicap flag so that he could avoid the whole process that comes with requesting a handicap flag.

He said, “I got thinking that I would make my own flag so that I could carry it around wherever I went, so that wherever I play golf, I’d have my own.”

Not only did Golinko decide to create his own handicap flag, but he decided create a handicap symbol that golfers could relate to. He said, “Being a designer, I went, ‘Oh hey. Why don’t I make a flag specific to golfers?”

And that’s what he did. He redesigned the generic handicap symbol, a character sitting in a chair painted against a blue background, and gave that character a golf club. Voilà, a new concept was born. 

He said, “I made a flag for myself, put it on a pole, and have been using it the last four years.”

Now trademarked by Golinko himself, he says it has become a topic of conversation when he arrives at a new course. Other players, and staff notice it and often ask about it and if they can get one. And golfers are not the only ones who have taken a liking to it.

Since 1994, when he founded his company, Golinko has entered various designs he created into contests that put his work up against others in the industry. Recently, his design for the this handicap specific golf flag beat out more than 5,000 submissions from 21 countries at the 2016 Summit Creative Award competition for its creative work in the category of consumer logo design.

It was a silver medal for Golinko and one of the top awards presented to graphic design professionals and one of the most prestigious awards of its kind.

The Summit Creative Award (SCA) recognizes and celebrates the creative achievements of small and medium sized advertising agencies worldwide with annual billings under $30 million. Celebrating its 22nd year, the SCA has firmly established itself as the premier arbiter of creative excellence for firms of this size and has become a coveted honor.

For Golinko, whose company has won more than 50 national and international design awards, this one was extra special and the one he is most proud of.

“I’ve won a lot of awards in my past but I think this is the most significant for me. It’s something that I hold near and dear. It’s very personal. It’s something I did for myself and for other handicap golfers.”

While he has no plans to market or manufacture the handicap golfer flag as of now, Golinko has written to both the PGA and the USGA to see if either would be interested in adopting the symbol as the quote, “official flag of physically-challenged golfers,” something he hopes can inspire others like him to pick up clubs and play the game he loves.

He said, “I don’t have any plans right now except to make it public so people can see it and to help promote the existence of handicap golfers and to increase awareness. I’ve met a number of paraplegics [who play golf]. They’re amazing. It’s an amazing sport. It’s an amazing game. It’s the way all sports and all games should be played - with honor, dignity and concern for others.”

Something he experiences every time he hits the links.

Golinko hopes that with this design, others will find the passion for golf that he has enjoyed his whole life.