AS A YOUNG KID, MY PARENTS SIGNED ME UP FOR THE TYPICAL HOUSE LEAGUE SOCCER TEAM, HOPING THAT I WOULD BLOSSOM INTO A FUTURE ALEX MORGAN OR HOPE SOLO. UNFORTUNATELY, SOCCER NEVER PROVED TO BE MY CALLING.
My dad, who was a high school soccer coach at the time, put me through camps and clinics believing that I’d eventually find the love of the game. My mom utilized bribery to try and get me to get involved; she told me she’d give me $20 if I scored a goal at any point in the season.
In the end, I never scored a goal. I never received my $20. Soccer was not my thing.
When I learned that I was going to be checking out FootGolf, I originally pictured mini-golf with a giant soccer ball. I assumed that the game would be something overly simple and the soccer part of it would deter me from wanting to play more than one round.
However, after playing 18-holes with my friends, I can conclude that it was an activity that I would participate in again – the game is a great alternative to soccer, traditional golf, and mini-golf.
FootGolf follows the same rules as traditional golf. Instead of hitting a golf ball, players kick a regular sized soccer ball into larger holes. The course is located directly alongside of the golf course in Delaware Park, but distinctly noted with orange flags and markers.
Out of the 4 friends that I brought with me, 3 had longtime soccer experience. My other friend, like myself, had limited soccer experience—gym class and Timbit’s league only. We all brought our own balls to the course, but they can easily be rented for a $3 fee. Although golf carts were available to rent, the game goes more fluidly on foot (and we all counted our walking mileage from FootGolf as our workout for the day).
The game flows like an ordinary golf game, but at a much quicker pace. Players take turns kicking their balls towards the hole, aiming for par—or in my case, less than 8 kicks if I try my best. For an 18-hole game, it took my friends and me approximately an hour and a half to play.
My friends who had extensive soccer experience received lower scores than the non-soccer players, but a lack of experience ultimately does not detract from the enjoyment of the game. Reaching the holes was a challenge, as their distances ranged anywhere from 70 to 200 yards. Additionally, the finesse required to kick close range putts was an entertaining challenge.
Over the course of the game, FootGolf becomes easier and more competitive for players of all levels. As you develop your own personal technique and strategy, the game’s intensity heats up and proves to be a free-time activity that is surely worth a try for people of all ages.
David Hoover, Manager of Golf Operations for Buffalo Parks, informed me that, in the past, Delaware Park has hosted a FootGolf league and that the Park is looking to bring the league back in upcoming years. FootGolf is an uncommon sport; the next closest places to play are Erie, PA, and Rochester. I encourage people to try a round of FootGolf on a nice day and bring your friends: you might find that it’s something different and unique to take the place of your friend’s annual bar-league softball team.
Hoover also emphasized that FootGolf is a great activity for teams, organizations, and groups to do team-bonding. For soccer teams in particular, establishing team chemistry through a fun yet competitive game that also practices soccer-specialized skills, FootGolf is perfect. The game runs most smoothly with groups of 4-6 people and can be set up by calling in advance. Group rates are also available.
FootGolf is even an enjoyable game for someone who underachieved in gym class soccer and has never scored a house league goal.