A few months ago, my husband and I were golfing on a short course we had never tried before. As we neared the green, we were confused because there were two pins (flags). On closer examination, we found that one flag pole was sitting in a much larger hole. What was this? Was it made for the visually impaired or maybe for someone like me, who has a problem with directionally-challenged balls? It wasn’t until later that we found out that we’d stumbled across our first footgolf course.
While there are various opinions as to when footgolf was first played, the sport became official in 2008. It basically is a combination of football (American soccer) and golf. The rules are essentially the same as golf. The goal is to get the ball to the cup in as few strokes as possible. The difference is that a regulation size soccer ball is used and the ball is contacted by your foot rather than a club. Also, as I mentioned earlier, the cup is larger so that it can accommodate a soccer ball.
This last week we finally had a chance to experience the sport first hand. We drove about an hour to a course, but the long drive was off-set by the fact that we had a Groupon deal which brought the price down to a very reasonable amount. Most courses include a ball rental fee, so you may want to check into bringing your own soccer ball, if you have one.
From what I’ve read, most footgolf courses have nine holes. The course we played on had a separate golf course, but most of the time we were within eyesight of the golfers. As we were handed our scorecard, we were given given one piece of advice – “Watch out for golfers!” I’ve never been hit by a golf ball, but I’ve had patients who have and have had devastating effects. All I could do was hope that the golfers near us had better control of their balls that I generally do.
Maybe this is a good time to reveal my lack of golfing ability. Shortly after we were married, my husband and I took golf lessons. Our thought was that since neither of us had ever played in the past, we could learn to love the sport together. I can’t really say that has happened, even after almost thirty years of playing it intermittently, but I do love my husband and enjoy doing things with him. Our first time golfing netted me a score of 39. That’s not so bad, right? That was the number of strokes it took me to get to the first hole! It was supposed to take me three strokes. No surprise, my husband did significantly better than me.
Even though the years have improved my scores a little, I’m still embarrassingly terrible at golf. Thankfully I married a very patient man. For some reason he still seems to enjoy playing with me. Maybe it’s because I make him look professional in comparison. So I walked up to the first footgolf tee off area with fresh anticipation. Even though I’d never played footgolf, it had to be better than regular golf.
The first thing I happily noted is that it is much harder to miss the ball in footgolf than in regular golf. I am not saying it can’t be done, but amazingly I never once missed contacting my foot to the ball. Right from the start, we had a discussion about the proper way to kick the ball. Should we kick it with the side of our foot or with our toe? The professional soccer players use the side of their foot. They must know what they’re doing. So, I tried my best Pelé kick. I was glad to see the ball move, but it went way off to one side. At that moment I decided to switch from being a professional to being a two-year-old soccer player and just kick the ball with my toe. I’m not saying this is the best method, considering my score was consistently at least double par, but it kept me from running all over the place.
All was going relatively well (at least compared to my usual golf game) until we felt a few drops of rain while waiting to play the second hole. By the time we had all put our balls in the cup, it started to pour. We were so thankful that the rain wasn’t accompanied by lightning. This enabled us to take shelter under a nearby tree. It didn’t take long for us to realize that a tree, while better than facing the storm without any protection, is less than perfect. No matter where we stood, we each were getting pelted by rain. We ran to another tree that gave the allusion that it would shelter us better under its wings. Hah. I was just trying to formulate the most direct path back to the clubhouse when suddenly the rain stopped, like someone had just turned off the faucet. We finished the course wearing sunglasses!
I have read that the introduction of footgolf may have saved some golf courses from bankruptcy. I can see why it is starting to catch on. No expensive equipment is needed and it is a great option for young and old alike. I did find my toe was pretty sore by the end of play, but my husband later reminded me that I’d had toe surgery last year on that foot. I just adjusted by finishing play with my left foot. Not sure using my non-dominant foot hurt my game all that much. That’s the beauty of being poor at sports. I don’t have much to lose!
Why not give footgolf a try? It’s a simple, inexpensive game. It will get you outside, breathing in some fresh air. Thankfully my husband threw our scorecard away, but like with golf, I remind myself that it’s not about winning, but enjoying.