you kick or
is still a sport
on the go
occer on a golf course? Not so crazy
nowadays thanks to a sport that continues to expand its footprint.
FootGolf, which forged a foothold in the United States
nearly a decade ago, fuses soccer and golf. Swap a golf ball
for a soccer ball. Increase the size of the golf hole ( 21 inches). Keep
the spirit and tradition of both sports at the forefront and voila.
According to the most recent “Alternative Golf Experiences” report
issued by the National Golf Foundation, FootGolf yielded an estimated
840,000 rounds, with 52 percent of the traditional golf population
giving the sport a try. Additionally, 32 percent of FootGolf participants
expressed interest in playing traditional golf.
A cohesive co-existence it seems.
“We are not golf. We don’t pretend to be golf. We have no interest
in competing with golf,” Roberto Balestrini, founder of the American
FootGolf League (AFGL), said. “The golfers are fine playing golf. we have
millions of soccer players, and those soccer players can learn golf. We’re
Think of the AFGL as the USGA of the FootGolf realm. Founded in
2011, its purpose is to create the necessary structure to facilitate and
promote FootGolf across the country. The AFGL, with more than 500
active golf courses under its umbrella, brings FootGolf to golf courses by
guiding owners and operators on installing and promoting FootGolf as a
Among the AFGL membership is a trio of Golf Association of Philadelphia Member Clubs: Five Ponds Golf Club, Foxchase Golf Club and Olde
Homestead Golf Club. All consulted with the AFGL in regards to course
design, layout, yardage for pars, equipment, etc.
“Golf courses can take full advantage of their real estate with an ac-
tivity that requires no extra maintenance and generates extra revenue,”
Balestrini said. “FootGolf management is important for the golf course
operator. We talk to them. We help them.”
Justin Smith, Olde Homestead’s General Manager of 15 years, connected
with Balestrini and the AFGL to launch the club’s FootGolf offering in 2014.
“We’re lucky enough to have a nine-hole executive course. I thought it
would be a good fit up there,” Smith, 36, of New Tripoli, Pa., said. “There
was definitely plenty of space to increase the utilization up there. I said,
‘Let’s try FootGolf out.’ The AFGL did a great job working with us. They
helped us working on the layout of the course. They helped us deter-
mine what par should be. Once we got that going, the media picked up
on it pretty quickly. It wasn’t a slow start. There were some days where
The FootGolf season, which runs from April through October, generated
1,754 rounds at Olde Homestead in 2014. From daycare field trips to cor-
ing ventures, it
welcomes a wide-ranged
demographic. Cost is $10 for
ages 20 & under, $14 for adults.
Foxchase, too, started to offer FootGolf in 2014. Unlike Olde Home-
stead, its nine-hole course exists within a corn maze on five acres of land.
“Trying to get people into the facility is what it’s all about. We felt that
FootGolf was another way to do that,” Steve Graybill, the club’s owner, said.
“It’s a unique fit for us. In this golf business, when you have the amount of
ground that a golf course requires, you have to continue to think outside
the box to open up your property and to get people in there.”
GOLF AND FOOTGOLF share the corn maze space and a 21-inch cup.
There is a bucket of golf balls on each tee; lost balls tend to happen with
a 10-yard hitting window. Graybill designed the course. Local farmer and
Foxchase friend Warren Hoover plants the corn that surrounds it.
“I liked the ability to have a larger cup for the golfing portion. When
the adults come out, the adults can hit the golf ball and kids can kick the
soccer ball into the same hole. It’s a good fit,” Graybill said. “We get new
people in who would never come to the golf course because of FootGolf.”