August 12, 2014

Goal in one: FootGolf available at Arlington course

The up-and-coming game uses a soccer ball and mammoth-sized cup and is being played at courses across the United States.

No need for expensive clubs at Arlington’s Meadowbrook Golf Course. Players aiming for a perfect hole-in-one shot need look no farther than their feet.

Arlington is one of the latest North Texas cities to offer FootGolf, a sport in which participants kick a soccer ball into a 21-inch diameter cup with as few kicks as possible. Players can now reserve tee times for a round of FootGolf at Meadowbrook, 1300 E. Dugan St..

“This is a really neat concept blending soccer and golf together,” Golf Services Manager Greg Durante said. “It’s a sport anybody can play. It doesn’t have some of the barriers regular golf has. It doesn’t have expensive equipment. A family can come out and play it pretty much right off the bat.”

An estimated 180 FootGolf courses are open in 36 states across the United States, Arlington Assistant Parks Director Gary Packan said. Local courses include the Mansfield National Golf Club and the Lake Park Golf Club in Lewisville, but courses such as Keeton Park in Dallas are also working to offer the sport.

The game closely follows the rules of traditional golf and both sports can be played on the course simultaneously. Players can either bring their own soccer ball or rent one at the Arlington course’s Pro Shop, Durante said.

“This would be really fun for a corporate outing, if a business or a school or church wanted to do something fun or have team building,” Durante said. “It’s the best of both worlds.”

The city spent about $3,000 to launch its FootGolf program. Besides offering a new recreational opportunity, Arlington hopes to bring new interest to the golf course, Durante said.

“You will get a little bit of understanding of how the game of golf is played because the scoring method is still the same. We hope that introducing folks to this course and having people play FootGolf will also make them want to take up lessons and play regular golf,” Durante said.

The FootGolf holes, which are two-and-a-half times the size of a soccer ball, are located next to the regular putting greens.

“It will have par 3s, par 4s and par 5s. It will play much more like a regular golf course for a total par of 70 if you play all 18 holes,” Durante said.

Outside of Tuesday mornings, when Meadowbrook hosts a weekly senior golf event, the foot golfers share the course with club-wielding golfers.

Arlington is also seeking certification by the Federation for International FootGolf and the American FootGolf League with the aim of eventually hosting state, regional and national tournaments. The city also hopes to one day organize men’s, women’s and junior leagues.

“It’s capitalizing off the interest and passion for soccer in Arlington and, as well, students at the University of Texas at Arlington, with the course’s close proximity to the campus,” Packan said.

Long-time soccer player Ryan Hegreness said he looks forward to challenging his league members on a different playing field.

“Being a soccer player, it sounds like a lot of fun and a different way to apply some similar skills in a more social environment,” Hegreness said. “When you are on the soccer field, you’re not talking with your buddies. You are focused on playing the game. Here you are still participating in a sport related to the sport that you love but have the ability to talk about life and have a good time.”

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