Detroit has recently seen a rise in popularity in a new sport that is part golf, part soccer. The sport is slowly taking over, not only the Detroit area, but also the nation itself. Footgolf is essentially the middle ground for those who enjoy kicking the ball in soccer but don’t like the aggressive, team nature of the sport.
The rules are almost exactly that of the game of golf, but instead of using clubs and a tiny golf ball, people use their feet and a size five soccer ball. They then try to attempt to get the ball inside the 21-inch diameter hole at the end of the green, in the fewest number of kicks possible by only using their feet. The courses are equipped with 9 or 18 holes, just like regular golf. An added bonus in playing the sport is that it’s practically impossible to lose your ball, especially in water, due to the soccer ball’s ability to float.
Officials from a number of different courses across the U.S. are saying that as the sport grows in followers, they’re seeing an increase of younger crowds, as well as more diversity. Detroit in particular has been adding new footgolf courses in response to the new sport’s rising popularity in the area. Because of the hybrid nature of the sport, fans of both soccer and golf are equally attracted to footgolf. Different aspects of the sport appeal to different fans. Those who had previously only played soccer, are stepping onto the golf course for the first time to give footgolf a chance.
The domestic interest of the sport can be traced back to November of 2011 when Robert Balestrini who is the original founder of the American FootGolf League, brought the hybrid of golf and soccer to North America. Currently, more than 30 countries are participating in the game of footgolf, occasionally with different rules and at a multitude of different levels.
The courses can sometimes simply be golf courses with the hole off to the side of the green, so that the renovation doesn’t ruin the course itself. The distance to the hole is also a lot shorter than regular golf holes. Instead of typically being around 250 to 350 yards, the footgolf holes are approximately 120 to 200 yards. However, carts are usually allowed, depending on the course, for both golf and footgolf players. According to the AFGL, footgolf is now the fastest growing sport across North America. Golf courses and country clubs across the nation have been adopting footgolf into their courses as a way to create more influx and add diversity to its usual crowd of players.
The footgolf uniform is consistent with that of regular golf, but instead of golf shoes, the player wears turf or indoor soccer shoes. However, no cleats are permitted in an effort to keep the course from forming divots. Those who plan to compete in official AFGL tournaments must wear knee-high socks with an argyle print.
The American FootGolf League currently has 160 accredited courses across the country. Nine of those AFGL recognized footgolf courses are in Michigan. As the new sport continues to rise in popularity in the Detroit area, the rest of the nation isn’t far behind.
By Addi Simmons