MANASSAS, Virginia — It’s a new sport where soccer stars put their skills to the test on a golf course.
Footgolf is taking off in Northern Virginia. Two golf courses have popped up this year that offer the new sport. It requires a soccer ball, a golf course and a hole about three times the size of one on a green.
On Sunday, a group of curious fans of the new sport went to General’s Ridge Golf Course in Manassas to test their skills for the first time.
“The player reads the game, whether it’s a break, where you might have taken some experience from your golf days. But also you have to have the technique from your soccer days. So you take a little bit from each, soccer and golf, and you have to be versatile,” says Thomas Park, who helped organize the event.
Jim Hogan, who was in Park’s foursome, immediately got some beginner’s luck. On the first hole, he got an eagle. Most holes are about 60 to 100 yards long, and range from a Par 3 to a Par 5, like traditional golf.
“Definitely a soccer background is important. You need a quality strike and let the celebrations occur. It’s the inner soccer hooliganism,” says Hogan, as he described his teammates jumping on him when his approach shot landed in the hole.
“I’d say off the tee, it’s more soccer skill. Striking a ball properly, powerfully. But on your second and third shot, it’s a little bit more a golf skill to read the breaks and the distance to try and get it in the hole,” says Glen Grey.
One of his teammates, Seth, says he enjoys his first foray into footgolf. However, he admits that it tests certain soccer skills that you wouldn’t use in a traditional game.
“It’s a lot more precise than actual soccer. You don’t normally have to put it through such a small window. There’s a little bit more of a margin of error when you’re playing actually soccer,” says Seth.
General’s Ridge Golf Course opened up a footgolf course in early March. One staffer says that they get people who come out to play the 18-hole course on most days. It’s open to any member of the public after 3pm on most days.
The footgolf course is embedded within the traditional golf course, so golfers and footgolfers share the course. Other than a large hole in the middle of the fairway, there are only poles to mark the tee for footgolf, making the inconvenience for actual golfers minimal. If a golfer’s shot lands in the footgolf hole, then the rules allow the player to get a free drop.
“You have to really concentrate at footgolf. You have to be able to read the breaks. It’s a challenging game, but it’s really fun and I’m happy we’re out here,” says Mike, talking after he got a birdie on the fifth hole.
General’s Ridge isn’t the only footgolf course in the region. Lake Ridge Golf Course in Woodbridge also has a 9-hole course.
The American FootGolf League will host a two-day tournament at the two courses on July 19-20. The group formed in 2011 and now there are more than 120 courses across the United Stations. However, there are no courses in the District of Columbia or south of Baltimore in Maryland.
More than 22 countries have footgolf associations.