Players on the 18th hole of the Las Vegas Footgolf course
|Highest governing body||Federation for International FootGolf (FIFG)|
|Team members||Teams or single competitors|
The game is played the same way as golf, except players use a football instead of a golf ball, and the ball is kicked rather than struck with a club, working towards a 21-inch "cup" in place of the usual golf hole. The player who plays the 9 or 18 holes with the fewest shots wins. FootGolf as sport is played on golf courses only. The first shot has to be played from the tee box, and to reach the hole, bunkers, trees, water and hills have to be crossed or avoided. This means a powerful shot is useful, but not decisive. Reading the course, a smart approach and accurate putting are even more important.
The game is played a regulation No. 5 soccer ball. Because soccer balls travel less distance than golf balls, Footgolf is played on holes shorter than those used for golf, with one course in California averaging 157 yards. Pars are typically 5 or below. Paul Collinson of the UK Footgolf Association has observed that compared to golf, Footgolf is quicker to play, more accessible to players, and does not require expensive equipment.
The origins of FootGolf are unclear as they can be attributed to many countries at the same time, as early as 2006. The first nine-hole FootGolf tournament on a golf course, and played as the sport is know today, was organized in the Netherlands in 2008 by Michael Jansen, and played by a mix of Dutch and Belgian professional footballers. Jansen learned of the sport from Dutch footballer Willem Korsten, who recalled playing a similar game during his time with British club Tottenham Hotspur, who would end training sessions by kicking the ball from the pitch back to the changing rooms in as short a time as possible.
Later Belgium and Hungary switched from playing in parks to golf courses, and the game was introduced to Argentina in 2010. The game was internationally publicized, and countries worldwide started collaborating on the development of the game. By October 2014, the game was offered at more than 240 courses in the United States and was in the final stages of being recognized by Sport England.
The game's emergence coincided with the decline of the popularity of golf among young people, with 643 courses closing between 2006 and 2014 in the United States. The sport has financially saved many struggling golf courses, and the Professional Golfers' Association of America and World Golf Foundation have both acknowledged FootGolf's contribution to helping golf courses generate more income, and noted that it may contribute to the growth of golf itself. PGA president Ted Bishop said that "I think it would be ludicrous to think there won't be a percentage of those people that might say, 'Hey, you know what? I think I'd like to try and play golf." One course in the United States has Footgolf holes running perpendicular to regular golf holes, so that both games can be played at the same time.
Three countries combined to form the Federation for International FootGolf in June 2012, and the first Footgolf World Cup was held in Hungary that month. By November 2014 the FIFG governing body had 26 member nations.
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