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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Clatter Up! Have a Ball With Balf

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania -- Ah, there's nothing like the clack of the clat and the challenge of a tough putt on a crisp fall day.

But it's not baseball. It's not golf.

It's balf.

Mark Schuster, prophet and originator of the new sport, talks grandly of his baseball-golf fusion. He's on a mission.

"We're going to change America," said Schuster, a computer technician from the Pittsburgh suburb of Crafton.

The sport's chief tool is the clat, a converted wooden baseball bat with the head of a golf putter inserted in the fat end. Balf's batters, golfers -- whatever -- are called clatters.

The nine-hole game is played on a golf course, which so far is still called a golf course. To tee off, players toss a golf ball in the air and swing away.

Miss the ball three times on the fairway and you add a stroke to your score. Land in a sand trap and you simply pick up the ball and bunt. Once on the green, clatters use the putter to hole out.

The rules and pace are similar to golf and you can play anywhere they'll let you, Schuster said. "Nothing but prejudice to prevent the sport from really taking off," he said.

Right now, the sport's adherents consist of Schuster and a few friends. But he hopes that millions will take up the clat. Schuster said one person wants to put a professional balf franchise in Mankato, Minnesota.

Schuster dreamed up the new game after succeeding at softball and failing at golf. A second baseman in a local fall league, Schuster can't keep up with the avid golfers from the insurance agency where he works.

"But there's no reason why I can't just balf along with them," he said.