What is Footgolf?

If soccer and golf had a baby it would have the best of both worlds. It would be leisurely and scenic, it would require very little equipment, it would capitalize on skills you have had since you were a kid (like kicking), and it would be affordable. It would also probably have a silly name, like “footgolf”. Regardless -- this is a sport I knew nothing about, but after a long Saturday on the green trying desperately to perfect the in-out path on my downswing, I was excited to try something new.

So Sunday, I called up my old soccer buddies and invited them to Bent Creek to play a round of footgolf after practice. Bent Creek is a public course on the westside of Jacksonville that is actually a pretty great golf course, but I decided to go there for footgolf because that was where I was referred to by North Florida Footgolf, a local league.



What is Footgolf?

“Dude, What is footgolf?” one of my buddies replied skeptically.

One of the first things benefits I noticed about footgolf was that I could de-stress on the course without tying my head back up in my poor swing. And, I could invite friends of mine that rarely ever come to my repeated invitations to play golf with them. Finally, they weren’t intimidated by high rental fees and all the required hardware. Hey, anyone can kick a ball, right?

So… What is footgolf you ask? Personally, I think it’s still a little open to interpretation. This sport is very new and still in the early phase. The rules are like golf, but you replace the golf ball with a soccer ball. The holes are bigger and the greens are shorter. You play right alongside real golfers, but short of that, there is not much more to it. It’s simple.

Without knowing much about the sport at all, we dove right in and sort of made things up as we went along...



We Didn’t Wear Proper Footgolf Attire

We showed up at Bent Creek Golf Course right after an afternoon club soccer practice, and not at all dressed for the occasion. Oops! I forgot to mention to them that Footgolf is still on a golf course!

Typically, the dress code runs similar to golf: collared shirts, golf shorts, and in lieu of golf shoes, footgolfers are encouraged to wear turfs with multi-studded rubber nubs or just flat soled shoes. Cleats or firm ground boots are not typically accepted because they might leave divots or damage on the greens and fairways.

Luckily, we were at a public course on a pretty slow day, because the clubhouse was more than forgiving of how we were dressed. We had a mix of sleeveless tees, soccer cleats, and a space cats head wrap-- because, what better way to avoid a sweaty forehead than with intergalactic felines!



We Boozed it Up!

What goes naturally with a game of golf where you can be way less accurate? The same thing that goes naturally with any game of golf: beer!

I don’t know if you read my blog post that mentioned my favorite local craft brew, but today we quenched our footgolf spirit with John Boat, a local Jacksonville brew. It was light and kept us “agile” - no actually it kept us barely standing, but our highly accurate kicks certainly allowed us to explore all the various regions of the course!



We Made Footgolf Friends

One group came along who played with the Jax Footgolf League, which is now a part of the American Footgolf League. We saw them for about 5 minutes; then they were so far down the course, we couldn’t dream of catching up.

I loved seeing this father and son playing together, Hank and Ian Champion, who said they played together regularly.

“As you can see, you don’t have to be in shape to play. Anyone can play!” Hank Champion joked, as he putted the ball in on the 12th hole.

Ian’s eyes lit up when I asked him about it. He happily chimed in, “Yeah, this sport is easy and fun!”

I couldn’t help but think to myself:

In a world where it’s increasingly impossible to rip your kids away from their X-boxes and iPhones, more dad’s need to a sport like this. It’s simple, takes up a couple hours, and it’s not too fast paced for a little real conversation.

In my personal opinion, this is the primary attraction to footgolf. Anyone can play and families can enjoy something together that requires just enough time and focus to step outside away from technology. Sure--  you can go bowling, but who wants to sit around a bowling alley on a nice Sunday afternoon?



We had a lot of fun!

One of us scored 9 under and one us about 20 over, but I’m not going to embarrass anyone. The score really didn’t matter for us. We had a great time!

The holes we thought were going to be difficult weren’t that difficult and sometimes, the easiest putt seemed to make it nearly impossible to make par. We came so close to a hole-in-one it was laughable; we landed in the woods and in the sand; and one of us went swimming with the gators. It was awesome to reconnect with old friends. I missed playing soccer with them on the weekends and I was excited to at least dip their feet in the water (literally!) of the new world I was addicted to. I think after watching that sunset over the green, they got it.

There was no pressure. Anyone can play footgolf. And even though I didn’t have my clubs and I didn’t perfect my downswing, it was a perfect Sunday on the course.