FootGolf in Northern Michigan

FootGolf, a sport that is a hybrid of soccer and golf has been rising in popularity in the U.S. in recent years and now lovers of the game can play FootGolf in Northern Michigan. MyNorth’s Eliza Foster talked with Chris Hale, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Shanty Creek Resorts to learn more about the game, where you can play FootGolf in Michigan and more.

What is FootGolf?

FootGolf is a hybrid sport that combines the skills of soccer (formally known outside of the United States as football) with the setting and game rules of golf.

How do the rules work?

Each player’s objective is to begin play at each hole’s designated “tee box” and kick a (regulation size 5) soccer ball from the tee box down the fairway to the green and ultimately into the hole in as few “strokes” (kicks) as possible, much like traditional golf but kicking the ball instead of swinging clubs and irons.

As far as outfits go, what are FootGolfers wearing on the course?

The unofficial uniform includes a collared golf shirt, shorts, argyle socks (pulled high), and a stylish flat cap. Shoes should be athletic but should not be cleats so that the golf course setting is not impaired. This provides a bit of flair and a nod to the golf era of yesteryear.

From what I’ve read it sounds like FootGolf originated in the Netherlands around 2008. When did it start to become popular in the US?

It is still relatively new in the US however like fashion trends and other fads, the east and west coast began adopting FootGolf before it made its way to the Midwest. The PGA gave its overview of the game during its 2014 national trade show as part of its recommendations to Grow the Game, a multi-faceted program designed to bring more young people to the golf setting and ultimately adopt the game.

How long has Shanty Creek had a foot golf course?

Shanty Creek added 9 holes of FootGolf to its Summit Golf Course in 2014. The Summit Golf Course is among four golf courses on Shanty Creek’s 4,500 acre property and has been established as the resort’s beginner-friendly course. The course also features “Tee it Forward” par three tee boxes on every hole (approx 90-125 yards) and 15” big cups on every putting green (in addition to the standard 4.25” putting cups). These, along with FootGolf, and a handful of specially-priced promotions have attracted more families to the course and to experience the beautiful and peaceful setting of golf.

Is FootGolf a sport that’s rising in popularity? Or do you think there are a lot of people who would just prefer to play old fashioned golf?

In America, the sport has a chance to catch on. As the demographic mix of the US continues to shift with greater numbers of Hispanic, Asian, and even Eastern Europeans coming to the States, as well as other places where soccer is the national pastime, the game certainly has appeal as a leisure time activity. Much like the game of soccer, the US has slowly but increasingly adopted and accepted soccer over the past 25 years.

But for golf resorts, FootGolf’s goal initially is to provide an alternative to the game of golf for young kids. This provides the opportunity to experience the serenity and beauty of a golf course to many who may not have [experienced one] otherwise. And someday, they may choose to swing the clubs instead, or in addition to playing FootGolf.

To me, this sport looks really challenging! What are the key components to do well? Any tips?

FootGolf’s skills are those of traditional soccer: The game requires solid kicking techniques (instep, outside of the foot, inside of the foot, solid plant foot) and accuracy. Advanced players use their ability to “bend” the ball in certain situations (around trees, over fairway bunkers), and of course, control and accuracy improves one’s “putting” game.

Are you a FootGolfer?

I am. I have a long history of playing competitive soccer during my life. And I coach the Bellaire High School varsity soccer team, so last year we came out and played a round on a nice sunny afternoon. Needless to say, we had a great time on the course together.

Do you know many FootGolf courses are in Michigan?

I believe there are five. Two downstate, Elmbrook in Traverse City, Treetops Resort in Gaylord, and here in Bellaire at Shanty Creek Resorts.

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