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|
|Equipment||Football (indoor or turf soccer shoes)|
Footgolf is a precision sport, in which players kick a soccer ball into a cup in as few shots as possible. The name is a portmanteau of football and golf, and the game combines the two sports, being more closely related to golf.
The game is played similarly to golf, with the exception that players use a football-soccer ball instead of a golf ball, and the ball is kicked rather than struck with a club, working toward a 21-inch "cup" in place of the usual golf hole. The player who finishes the course with the fewest shots wins. Indeed, footgolf is often played on golf courses, though it may also be played on specially built grass footgolf courses. The first shot has to be played from the tee box, and bunkers, trees, water and hills must be crossed or avoided in order to reach the hole.
The game is played with a regulation No. 5 soccer ball. Because football-soccer balls travel less distance than golf balls, footgolf is played on holes shorter than those used in golf. For instance, one course in California features holes that average 157 yards. Pars are typically 5 shots or fewer.
Paul Collinson of the UK Footgolf Association has observed that, compared to golf, footgolf is quicker to play, more accessible, and does not require expensive equipment.
The origins of footgolf are uncertain. Swiss players practice the game since late 1980's and the Scandinavian countries starting playing the game under different names and rules in the 1990's. Footgolf was introduced in Spain in 2008 by Juan Manuel Asensi, ex- footballer who played in F.C Barcelona. In September 2009 the first nine-hole footgolf tournament on a golf course was organized in the Netherlands by Michael Jansen and Bas Korsten, 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 between 1999 and 2001, who would end training sessions by kicking the ball from the pitch back to the changing rooms in as short a time as possible. After this, many countries began to organize matches, events, tournaments, even associations around this game.
Later Belgium and Hungary switched from playing in parks to golf courses, and the game was introduced to Argentina in 2010. The American FootGolf League was founded in 2011. 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. Former PGA president Ted Bishop said in 2014 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.
In the spring of 2015 the National Golf Courses Owners Association (NGCOA) recognized the American FootGolf League (AFGL) as the governing body for the sport of FootGolf in the U.S. and a few months later, in July 2015, Roberto Balestrini founder of the AFGL was recognised by Golf Inc. Magazine as one of the 10 Most Innovative People in Golf.
The AFGL requires "classic golf uniform with wearing indoor soccer or turf shoes" for tournament play, and notes that most golf courses have a dress code for golfers, which footgolf players would also have to follow.
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