By Doug Halberstadt
Last May, I wrote a column about a new sport I heard about while watching a golf tournament on television. It is called “FootGolf.” The new(er) sport combines a traditional golf course and a regulation-size soccer ball. The rules largely correspond to the rules of golf. The main difference is the size of the cup. In FootGolf, the cup is enlarged to 21 inches in diameter.
Players try to kick the ball along the course, attempting to avoid the traps and hazards, and land the ball into the hole in as few as strokes (kicks) as possible. Just like standard golf, the person with the lowest score wins.
The American FootGolf League was founded in the United States in the summer of 2011. The league approves existing nine- or 18-hole courses for the game of FootGolf. At that time, there were more than 120 AFGL-accredited courses in 30 states across the country. Illinois had 14 such courses. There are two courses near Rockford. The Mill Creek Golf Club in Geneva, Illinois, has a nine-hole course, and the Bonnie Dundee Golf Club in Carpentersville, Illinois, has an 18-hole course.
This May, there will be at least one more FootGolf course in the state. Actually, it will be right here in our town. The Rockford Park District is opening up Elliot Golf Course for the new sport beginning this May. According to the Park District’s website, 18 FootGolf cups will make up the course, which is only being offered on the back nine holes Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 2 p.m. to close. The two games will not be intermixed. A FootGolf tee time can be made by calling Elliot Golf Course at (815) 968-PLAY (7529). Online tee times may be an option in the future.
Players will be able to register for a FootGolf handicap, similar to a traditional golf handicap, which will allow players of different abilities to compete with each other. The inaugural Golf Rockford FootGolf championship will be in September 2015. FootGolf leagues, team play, outings and family nights will also be available in the future. Proper attire will be required, and no soccer cleats will be allowed on the course. Indoor or turf soccer shoes are recommended.
The cost per player will be $12 per round for those walking the course and $21 per player using a golf cart. Soccer ball will be available for rent for $2 with a $25 deposit, or you may bring your own ball. A size five regulation soccer ball is recommended.
Once the course is completed at Elliot, it will be regulated by the United States FootGolf Association (USFGA), which is the largest governing body for the sport in the United States. By being a certified FootGolf course, the Park District is hoping to attract players and events from around the world.
With all of the recent snow and cold, it’s difficult to think about regular golf or FootGolf, for that matter. We’ll all have to hang in there, it’s only a couple of more months until the golfers, and now the soccer players, too, will be yelling “FORE.”
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Feb. 4-10, 2015, issue