WORDS BY JARED TINSLAY
Footgolf – a love child of football and golf – involves players using their feet to punt a size 5 football around a golf course in as few kicks as possible, eventually knocking it into a suitably sized hole.
It was developed over ten years ago by a group of Swiss chaps who played in parks using trees as targets. As popularity grew, golf courses around the world realised there was a gap in the market – an easy route to increase revenue by digging larger holes in their greens. Now, in the UK alone, there are over 180 footgolf courses. The result? A curious mingling of sport cultures in the golf club.
Golf’s often been a sport associated with middle-aged men in long socks and funny trousers. While the UK Footgolf Association says it’s “in the spirit of the game” to wear golfing attire, footgolf players will often turn up in footy shirts, shorts and trainers. Yet it’s not only the clothing which differs, but also the variety in players.
Golf isn’t a cheap hobby - membership fees alone may set you back over a grand –and you also have to buy the equipment. An average round of footgolf costs under a tenner – football rental included – and all you need is a pair of shoes. For that reason, it’s a much more inclusive sport and you’re more likely to get your five-year-old cousin or your nan out giving it a go.
While the concept is pretty simple – there’s no fussing over using the right ‘pitching wedge’ from the rough– the game itself can be tricky. Brazilian striker Hulk apart, most players would struggle to kick a ball 500 yards in five kicks, so the game’s played on the smaller pitch and putt courses.
Holes generally range from 60-90 yards; good for those who are more likely to hit row Z than the back of the net from six yards. Some courses also require players to kick over lakes or sand pits, as if on a proper golf course, and a normal round lasts about an hour.
There are a number of rules to abide by, though a lot of them are common sense. Interestingly, scooping the ball is prohibited, as is rolling the ball with the sole of your shoe, which makes putting that bit harder. One thing you can do though, is take your own ball, which means you don’t have to struggle adjusting to a new weight or feel.
Footgolf’s a growing sport – the Federation for International Footgolf (FIFG) consists of 22 country members and its aim is to get it into the Olympics. There are world and country player rankings, as well as national and international tours.
And it doesn’t have to be competitive, you don’t have to be any good and there’s no sport snobbery. All you need is love and a pair of shoes, so why not join the revolution?