Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Get a Kick Out of FootGolf


 Roberto Ballestrini
Father of North American FootGolf
French Lick Resort is out in front of the newest sports craze:  FootGolf!“It’s basically golf with a soccer ball,” says the father of North American FootGolf, Roberto Ballestrini.  “Instead of clubs you use your foot. What could be easier and more fun than that?!”

I spent a recent morning with Roberto and our Director of Golf Operations, Dave Harner, on our 9-hole Valley Links course.  Roberto’s enthusiasm is infectious.  He even got head groundskeeper John Parker to willingly buy into the idea of digging 21-inch wide holes in his beloved turf. 

“If it gets more people, more families, out here enjoying the course; I’m all for it.”A FootGolf hole looks a regular golf hole, complete with flag, only bigger.  “21 inches lets the soccer ball drop into the hole even with the flag in it,” says Roberto.  “That way a FootGolfer can play the game alone without someone tending the pin.” 


But far and away, it’s been families swarming the FootGolf course here at the resort.  You can hear them laughing as they make their way up and down the fairways. 
 
The FootGolf holes themselves are not on the green.  They’re typically located to the side of the fairway near the green.  “We can have FootGolfers and regular golfers out on the course at the same time.  The rules and courtesies of both games are the same,” says Harner.  “So far they’ve co-existed beautifully.”  (Serious golfers also have two legendary 18-hole courses to play at French Lick Resort.)The FootGolf tees on Valley Links are closer to the hole than most of the golf tee areas. 

Theoretically, most people can’t kick a soccer ball as far as most golfers drive a golf ball.  (They obviously haven’t seen me tee off.)  You would think a soccer player would have a decided edge over a golfer in a FootGolf challenge.  Not so fast says Roberto, who loves both games:  “The soccer player is used to playing on a flat pitch (field) and kicking to teammates, always in motion.  He might kick it further but there’s more to this game.  The golfer trains to go at a stationary target, learns how to read the roll of the terrain, and think about where he wants the ball to stop.”  Good points!  But first and foremost, it’s just plain fun.So who would you give the edge to in a round of family FootGolf?  Reserve your tee time at Valley Links during your next visit and settle it on the fairway.
  


Check out our our video story on FootGolf
 
Steve Rondinaro