The latest golf hybrid, which uses a racket and rubber ball, is being offered at the Rockledge, Fla., club, with a league set to begin in January.
The latest golf hybrid, Smash Golf, which utilizes a racket and rubber ball, is making a home at Turtle Creek Golf Club in Rockledge, Fla., the Melbourne (Fla.)-based Florida Today reported.
Justin Horton, General Manager at Turtle Creek, is working with golf professional Daril Pacinella and Ivan Lendl, an eight-time Grand Slam tennis champ and avid golfer, to establish a league for the new sport, Florida Today reported.
“I’m looking for anything, to be honest with you. Any golf course is looking for anything to generate new revenue,” Horton said. “I think the interest would be with the younger crowd, and that’s what the golf business has lost.”
Pacinella, who lives in Rockledge, teaches golf and has been involved with the business for more than 30 years. Watching the game lose popularity led him to the idea to use a tennis racket to propel a golf-sized ball toward the hole. Girlfriend Kelly Gaitan, a recreational tennis player, provided the name, Florida Today reported.
“We’re trying to get people on golf courses, get families on golf courses, and they can have fun,” Pacinella said. “Kids are going home and sitting in front of the TV playing video games. They need to get out and get exercise.”
Pacinella attributes the decline of traditional golf to three factors: price, difficulty of learning the sport and time, Florida Today reported.
“This takes care of all three,” Pacinella said, holding a trademarked racket with the head of a putter drilled into the handle. “You don’t have to sling a bag down from your shoulder. You don’t have to decide which club to use.”
Smash Golf can be played for $12 a round at Turtle Creek, and it’s offered any day of the week after 3 p.m. Horton has planned a league for Friday afternoons beginning in January with the $12 fee that will include racket rental, Florida Today reported.
It’s a walking sport, though those with particular needs could rent a cart, and Horton is giving each new player a ball to get started. The solid rubber balls sell for $34 per dozen on Pacinella’s web site, smashgolf.net, and rackets are about $100, Florida Today reported.
“You’re going to play relatively quick, and that’s the whole thing we’re trying to do,” Pacinella said. In a recent demonstration, he played four holes in about four minutes each, from driving to putting, Florida Today reported.
Play can be as casual or as vigorous as competitors desire. A typical player can hit the ball approximately 130 yards with a full swing, and the sport has its own scorecard, with adjusted pars for each hole, Florida Today reported.
“What it’s about is being outside in the fresh air with your friends and having a good walk,” Pacinella said. “We’re just trying to speed it up.”
The Smash Golf racket can be swung in a variety of ways to strike the ball. The player tosses the ball in the air and then hits it, except on the green, where the putter head is used just as in golf. Swings can vary from sidearm, as in a typical tennis swing, to underhanded, Florida Today reported.
Pacinella and Lendl rolled out their sport at East Mountain Country Club in Westfield in September. Though the weather has not allowed it to build momentum in the interim, Pacinella said about 40 people came to see the rollout, Florida Today reported.
Horton hasn’t had many players walk in to Turtle Creek to play a round of Smash Golf, but it’s only been offered two weeks, Florida Today reported.
“So far, I could count it on one hand, but I haven’t really put an advertising blitz on,” Horton said. “We’re going to try to get the league together in January, pair people up and make it a fun thing.”
He’s heard of variations on golf catching on at other courses. Those include foot golf, which is played by kicking a soccer ball but requires digging a much larger hole in the middle of the fairway. Pacinella thinks Smash Golf avoids that problem, Florida Today reported.
“One thing I didn’t want to do was have any additional expense for a golf course,” Pacinella said. “Nothing has to change for Smash Golf.”
Though both Pacinella and Horton still consider themselves traditional golfers, both would be glad to see a variety of participation on courses, if it means new life, Florida Today reported.
“I want people on the golf course, and if they play this, there’s always a chance they’ll decide to try real golf,” Pacinella said.