FootGolf taking hold in WNY

By Anthony Fiorello

footgolf

Most people in the United States think of football, hockey, baseball and basketball as the four major leagues but others, such as soccer and golf are starting to edge their way onto the radar. Then there’s FootGolf.

Wait, FootGolf?

A combination of soccer and golf, FootGolf is one of the country’s fastest growing sports and quite simple to play. According to www. bfloparks.org, “Playing is easy and prior experience in soccer or golf is not necessary! There’s no clubs, no cleats and no goalie – just your friends (like golf), your feet and your ball (like soccer). Players kick a regulation size 5 soccer ball, starting from the tee box, along the course and try to sink it in the (considerably larger) cup in as few kicks as possible. The ball must always be kicked by the player’s foot – no rolling or dribbling allowed. The lowest total wins, just like golf. Compared to golf, FootGolf is quicker to play, more accessible to players, and does not require expensive equipment.”

Over the past several years, FootGolf has seen its participation grow throughout the country. It was named an official sport in 2011 and was certified by the American FootGolf League. Throughout Western New York leagues have sprouted, including Delaware Park, and many of the people who played have enjoyed their experience.

“The experience (playing FootGolf) was awesome,” Jill Idziak of Buffalo said. “I played with four friends of mine and it took a little less than four hours to play. The holes varied in difficulty and they mirrored holes on an actual golf course. Having played soccer for the last 20 years, some of the holes were actually quite difficult. The lengths were long and you had to be very precise to get a shot into a hole. It was challenging, but I had a great time with my friends.”

At the rate the game has been thriving, it could soon become one of the world’s most popular sports. In fact, FootGolf has been growing so quickly that it has caught the attention of PGA of America President Ted Bishop, who gave it a glowing recommendation. He also believes that the growing acclaim of the sport could drive more people to become more interested in golf.

“The interest that I’m already getting from the soccer community on the sport is unbelievable,” Bishop said, according to www.pga.com. “I think the thing that excites me, is that you’ve got the chance here to bring people in who are soccer-crazy and to give them the opportunity to go to the golf course… I think it would be ludicrous to think there won’t be a percentage of those people that might say, ‘Hey, you know what? I think I’d like to try and play golf.’”

Whatever comes out of playing FootGolf, whether it turns a player of it into a hardcore fan of the game, or if it turns them into a aficionado of golf, it sure looks as if the lure of FootGolf won’t be going away any time soon.

“I feel that with time, increasing popularity and increasing revenue, the FootGolf community will continue to become bigger and get better and better,” Idziak said. “I can’t wait to go again with all of my soccer pals.”