FootGolf Openings Continue to Gain Attention

By | June 16th, 2014

New courses in Oregon and Ohio drew feature articles in their local newspapers. “There’s a new FootGolf course opening every day in America,” said the GM/head golf pro of the Oregon course. “Two great sports kind of collided with one another.”

Feature articles that recently appeared in the Albany (Ore.) Democrat Herald and The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch highlighted two more properties—Mallard Creek Golf Course in Lebanon, Ore. and Table Rock Golf Club in Centerburg, Ohio—that are among the latest to experience positive reaction to their introduction of FootGolf, the version of the game where soccer balls are kicked around the course.

At Mallard Creek, the Democrat Herald reported, one of the best examples of how FootGolf can appeal to demographic segments that do not have an interest in traditional golf is Annie Tunstill, the 18-year-old daughter of Mark Tunstill, the club’s General Manager and head golf professional.

Annie Tunstill has worked part-time at Mallard Creek, which also has an RV resort operation, for two years, but “Golf itself was a difficult sport for me,” she told the Democrat Herald. But she has played soccer since she was four, was one of the team MVPs at Lebanon High School, and is now heading off to play for Northwest Christian University in Eugene, Ore.

So Annie Tunstill was delighted to see soccer come to the Mallard Creek property that her father manages, in the form of an 18-hole FootGolf course that had its public grand opening on June 14, the Democrat Herald reported.

After she and about 30 other mid-valley soccer players, coaches and her dad tried out the new course, Annie told the Democrat Herald, she “loved it” as a new game that was “pretty simple and something everybody can do.”

Mallard Creek’s course is the second in Oregon, the Democrat Herald reported, with the Glendoveer Golf & Tennis club in Portland also recently opening a course for the game that originated in Europe six years ago, and was introduced in North America in 2011.

“The sport is growing quickly,” Mark Tunstill told the Democrat Herald. “There’s a new FootGolf course opening every day in America. Two great sports kind of collided with one another.”

It cost about $4,000 for Mallard Creek to build the par-72 FootGolf course on the existing front nine of its golf course, the Democrat Herald reported. The par 3s of the FootGolf average 60 to 80 yards, with par 4s running 90 to 170 yards and par 5s measuring180 to 260 yards. All holes are large enough (21 inches in diameter) to allow a No. 5 soccer ball to drop in and be retrieved.

Mallard Creek is currently offering afternoon and evening tee times several days a week for FootGolf, the Democrat Herald reported, with fees set at $7 for youth players and $10 for adults. Several charities have expressed an interest in benefit FootGolf tournaments, Tunstill said.

“It’s going to help,” he told the Democrat Herald. “It takes times that are slower in the day and brings a whole new demographic to the golf course.”

“I’m anticipating quite a substantial number of new faces,” he added. “There are courses that have seen substantial increases [through FootGolf] during their typical slow times in the day.

“It’s like the snowboard to the ski industry,” Tunstill said. “FootGolf has the potential to bring a whole lot of new people to the golf industry.”

The Democrat Herald also interviewed Ryan Christner, Lebanon High School’s varsity girls soccer coach, who also helped give Mallard Creek’s FootGolf course a test run before it opened to the public.

“I loved it. It’s a blast, a lot of fun,” said Christner “We got it done in an hour and a half. An average group will roll through in an hour and a half to two hours.”

Christner said he plays golf three to five times a year, but found that he preferred FootGolf because “It’s not as frustrating or as serious. It’s not as complicated as golf [and] it’s a lot quicker.

“The average soccer player would love this,” said Christner, who noted that he plans to take his team FootGolfing and is encouraging other coaches to do the same.

“It’s a great team-building experience,” he said. “It’s somewhere outside the soccer field to build skills and have fun.”

Annie Tunstill agreed, noting that she now “plan[s] on playing it a ton.”

“It’s something you can do with your friends,” she said. “You don’t need to be a soccer player. It’s fun, it’s open to the public, and it’s a great sport.”

In May, reported The Columbus Dispatch, Table Rock Golf Club Last month, Table Rock became the first golf course in the surrounding area to offer the sport when it added 18 FootGolf holes to the land of its front-nine golf holes.

Five other courses in Ohio—two in Cincinnati and one each in Cleveland, in Hinckley and at the Kent State University Golf Course—now offer the sport, the Dispatch reported.

While courses are set up to allow golfers and FootGolfers at the same time, Table Rock plans to schedule most FootGolf tee times in the afternoon, when fewer golfers are around, the Dispatch reported.

Jim and Kathy Butler, the club’s owners, told the Dispatch that they saw FootGolf as something they had to try, given the difficulty of attracting new patrons to their 41-year-old course.

“Another golf course wrote me to congratulate us on doing this, for having the guts to do it,” Mrs. Butler said.

“There are a lot of golf courses but not a lot of golfers,” Mr. Butler added. “You have to try to make a living on the land you have. You have to think outside the box.”

The sport has now grown enough in the state to spawn the Ohio FootGolf Association, which hosted its first tournament at Table Rock on June 14.

Domenic Romanellis, the boys soccer coach at St. Francis DeSales High School, told the Dispatch that he saw FootGolf as a fun way for his players to bond or for families to stay active.

“My daughter, she had to stop playing soccer because of concussions, and she loves it,” he said.

“Women in their 70s and 80s who have never kicked a ball can be out there,” he added. “No one we’ve taken out [on the course] hasn’t been back.”

The new sport is easier to learn, less expensive to play (Table Rock’s fees for a round of 18 holes are $12 for adults and $9 for children) and less intimidating than golf, Mrs. Butler said.

She told the Dispatch that she has received a few complaints from golfers—such as when members of a group said that some FootGolfers didn’t let them finish—but that she has begun working with her staff to educate FootGolfers on proper course etiquette.

“You don’t have to be good at soccer,” Corey Hunn, a 20-year-old student at Ohio State University, told the Dispatch. “It’s a backyard kickball type of thing, and that’s what I really like about it.”

Hunn was playing with Kevin Kwiatkowski, who described himself as an avid golfer, but told the Dispatch that he thought FootGolf was “a really cool premise” with “a lot of strategy to it.”

2 Responses to FootGolf Openings Continue to Gain Attention

  1. Rob says:

    Cute idea; could be a nice fundraiser. But you are telling me this is a market that people will pay for. Kicking a ball around on verticut greens when I can do this is my back yard ?
    Do you read the breaks into the breadbasket holes ? Stimpmeters ?

  2. Tom Dale says:

    The Links at Brigantine Beach stated foot golf on Friday 6/13/14. People are starting to get interested in it, and we are hoping to see more.

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