Footgolf is a sport, in which players kick a spherical 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.
|Highest governing body||Federation for International FootGolf (FIFG)|
|Team members||Teams or single competitors|
|Equipment||Football (indoor or turf soccer shoes)|
The game is played similarly to golf, with the exception that players use a soccer ball instead of a golf ball, and the ball is kicked rather than struck with a club, working toward a 50 cm-52 cm diameter by 28 cm deep "footgolf cup" usually located away from golf greens. 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. As football-soccer balls cannot be propelled as far as golf balls in one shot, 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.
A game with roughly similar rules, codeball, attained brief popularity in the United States during the late 1920s and 1930s. Swiss players have been playing a variation of the game since the late 1980s, and the Scandinavian countries starting playing the game under different names and rules in the 1990s. Michael Jansen and Bas Korsten were the creators of the Footgolf uniform and basic rules, and also organisers of the first tournament played the way the sport is played today around the world, and they officially launched FootGolf in the Netherlands in 2008. They learned of the sport from Korsten's brother, Dutch footballer Willem Korsten, who recalled playing a similar game during his time with British club Tottenham Hotspur between 1999 and 2001, where players would end training sessions by kicking the ball from the pitch back to the changing rooms in as short a time as possible.
The first ever footgolf tournament was organized in the Netherlands by Michael Jansen and Bas Korsten, and played by a mix of Dutch and Belgian professional footballers. After this, many countries began to organize matches, events, tournaments, even national leagues and 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 2014, the game was offered at hundreds of 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." In March 2016, the LPGA golfer Paula Creamer said "Anytime you can do something differently in the game of golf, it’s fun and I think we’ll probably be out there (playing footgolf) a little bit more now."
A group of countries combined to form the Federation for International FootGolf (FIFG) in June 2012, and 8 countries played the first FootGolf World Cup in Hungary that month (won by Hungarian, Bela Lengyel). In January 2016, the second FootGolf World Cup was held in Argentina and 230 players from 26 FIFG member countries participated in the global event. The winner of the individual event was Argentinian player, Christian Otero and the Team World Champion was the United States (Team USA). The third FootGolf World Cup was held in December 2018, in Marrakech, Morocco. The individual champion was Matias Perrone from Argentina and France won the gold in team competition, Team UK finished second and the previous world champion Team USA finished in the 3rd position.
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, Roberto Balestrini, founder of FootGolf in North America was selected by the prestigious Golf Inc Magazine as one of "The Ten Most Innovative People in Golf". In October 2, 2017 the GAISF (Global Association of International Sports Federations) granted the Observer Status to the Federation for International FootGolf (FIFG).
The dress code for competition states a "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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