A golf cart, a stick and a tin can were the humble beginnings of Utah inventor Stan Mangum’s phenomenal WhirlyBall®; success.
The Salt Lake City automotive shop owner conceived the idea of WhirlyBall® in 1962 after he observed his son, Kim, playing a type of hockey with a stick and tin can while driving an old golf cart. Mangum realized that, while the sport had been played in many ways – on horseback, on skates and on foot - it had never been played from a machine.
Immediately, the proverbial “light bulb” flashed, and the world’s first, and only, totally mechanized team sport was born.
Mangum’s new machine, dubbed the WhirlyBug™, looks like a bumper car. But that is where the comparison ends. The WhirlyBug™ is built different, steered different, and powered different.
Walt Disney was so intrigued by the WhirlyBug™ that he bought 12 machines for Disneyland which are still in use at the park today as movers for the giant animated characters. Although the entrepreneur was extremely interested in featuring WhirlyBall® at the park, the game did not fit his overall theme concept of the rides only.
The game of WhirlyBall® is best describes as an exciting combination of jai-alai, basketball, polo and hockey, played with a jai-alai style scoop and a plastic wiffle ball the size of a softball. With two five-player teams, the object is to throw the ball at a 22” target on goals situated on both ends of the 4,000 square foot court.
When the first WhirlyBall® court opened in 1980, a fascinating new world of recreation was tapped, for almost anyone can play and enjoy the game. Families, corporate outings and parties of every type are now playing WhirlyBall® on courts rapidly springing up across the country. WhirlyBall® has become the party of choice.
Today, Stan Mangum’s dream of inventing something that would “touch
the lives of many people” is a reality to thousands who delight in the
sheer joy of playing this challenging new sport of the Machine Age.