Red card! FootGolfers may need a golf course etiquette lesson



Is it a boon to golf courses? Or a nuisance to its patrons?

Many golf course operators are high on the new sport of FootGolf for filling more tee times, but they're also hopeful they can convert some of these soccer enthusiasts into golfers.

But after scanning reviews from golfers who played a course doubling as a FootGolf facility, it's not all a bag of kicks.

In the sport of FootGolf, players kick soccer balls to 21-inch diameter cups. But unlike, say, disc golf, players use the same fairways as golfers, sometimes at the same time.

The clash has some golfers crying foul -- and not just because FootGolfers usually pay less to use the course.

At its best, FootGolfers play the course during off-peak hours with a similar or faster pace than golfers while chewing up less grass. At its worst, it's loosely supervised day care.

User AlexHawke had a frustrating encounter with FootGolf at Woodland Golf Course in Cincinnati.

"30 screaming kids on the course," AlexHawke wrote. "Running around with little to no supervision. No enforcement for pace of play. They literally allow players to bounce from hole to hole to avoid the foot-golfers."

"Large groups kicking soccer balls all over the place," wrote reviewer 2RobertH about the Fountains Course at Welk Resort in San Diego. "One group pushing a baby around in a stroller as they played."

Mentions of FootGolf or "soccer golf" in GolfAdvisor reviews have greatly increased this summer. The new sport has taken off, perhaps bolstered by interest in this summer's FIFA World Cup. Or because high-profile PGA Tour pros such as Sergio Garcia have tried it. The American FootGolf Association reports the sport has spread to more than 200 courses throughout the U.S., and it's done so without much marketing muscle. Courses picking up on the trend range from short courses and casual nine-holers to resort courses. But golf's etiquette can take years to learn, and some of these FootGolfers aren't giving much effort.

"Every sand trap was trampled and not raked, and there was trash all over the course," wrote another reviewer, u000006444846, after his round at the Strategic Fox, an 18-hole, par-3 course in Michigan. "Hopefully this FootGolf fad will be over after the World Cup."

Reviewer knightsofnii, a relatively new golfer, described his encounter with a family of FootGolfers disturbing his round at nine-hole Cascades, one of seven courses at Crystal Springs Resort in New Jersey. In his review, he seemed happy enough to share the course with FootGolfers, so long as they abide by the proper decorum.

"Maybe an intro to golf seminar focusing not on rules but courtesy and how to keep the game flowing, would be great for all these folks," he wrote.

It's also understood FootGolfers not wear their soccer cleats on the golf course, but some golfers are saying the rule gets broken. Reviewer taylorhuske noticed damaged greens during his round at nine-hole Harvey Penick Golf Campus in Austin, Texas, a beginner-friendly course that is also home to the city's First Tee facility:

"The greens were pock marked with these people wearing soccer cleats on the green," he wrote, "and taking divots out of the green when shooting for their own 'FootGolf' pin."

And even if there aren't any FootGolfers on the course during your round, the simple fact that there are two pins on holes could prove confusing.

"There was a couple of holes I mistook the FootGolf flag with the golf flag," wrote Tony214 of his round at Sacramento's Cherry Island. "Perhaps a short and quick reminder at the check-in will be very helpful."

It seems, however, that if FootGolfers just kept up the pace -- or if course rangers stayed out in the afternoon during FootGolf hours -- we could all get along after all. Another golfer at Cascades had no issue sharing the course with FootGolfers.

"I did not know what to expect with 'foot golfers' playing at the same time," wrote pbergamo. "But in reality they play very fast and from different tees to different targets."

In fact, some golfers who notice FootGolf during their round become intrigued enough to try it out.

"I also played nine holes of FootGolf (after my round of real golf)," wrote PeteyHoff12 in his review at Chesapeake Bay's Rising Sun course in Maryland. "And I will definitely come back to play all of the 18 holes of FootGolf; it was awesome."

msaalfr, who reviewed Cascades wrote: "As a parent of three soccer players at home, I cant wait to come back and expose them to this form of soccer golf!"

That's a sentiment echoed by our own Senior Writer Jason Scott Deegan, who was finally able to make the golf course a family outing with his son during his first round of FootGolf at Shanty Creek Resorts in Michigan (see "FootGolf: Golf with a kick is taking off at Michigan's Shanty Creek and across the U.S.").

So right about now you're wondering:

A: Where can I try FootGolf?

Or:

B: Which courses should I avoid?

Here is a list of FootGolf courses as compiled by the American Foot Golf League.

And let us know if you encounter any FootGolfers behaving badly -- or kick the tires on the sport yourself.

Aug 11, 2014



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Brandon Tucker

Managing Editor

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker.