Footgolf By Andrew Ferguson
Last week, as part of our Duke of Edinburgh volunteering program that we are fulfilling at the club, Gilleasbuig and I were fortunate enough to meet with two of Scotland’s top FootGolf players, Mathew Morgan and Neil Shave. Mathew and Neil were at the club ahead of the Scottish FootGolf Open, which is to be held at Muckhart on 29th July. Amidst the preparing of FootGolf holes, they were willing to explain to us the ideas and rules behind FootGolf and why it would be beneficial for the club to incorporate it.
Firstly, what is FootGolf? Mathew and Neil both mentioned that FootGolf is not a well-known sport and that they have come across many misconceptions about what the sport involves. For a start, the sport does not involve setting big nets up on the course or hitting a football with a golf club. It simply abides by the same rules as golf. One kick of the football is one shot and the aim is to get the ball into the designated 22-inch diameter hole in as few shots as possible. There are still 18 holes in one round, however, the holes are much shorter as one cannot kick a football as far as another can hit a drive (on most occasions). Although the rules are much the same, the tactics are very different. For example, as the balls are much larger, they will run off hills more easily, so care has to be taken with where to hit your shots. The larger balls also are affected more by the wind so there are rules in place to deal with your ball being blown away.
The majority of people haven’t heard much about FootGolf, but this apparently niche sport is actually one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and it is now played in 33 countries. There are also a large number of top-level competitions, like the World Cup, and the UK are currently European FootGolf champions. Closer to home, there is the UK tour and the Tartan tour. With their blossoming FootGolf careers, Neil and Matthew have been fortunate to travel to many different countries including France and Morocco.
FootGolf’s fast growing popularity is a result of it combining two of the most popular sports and it is also very accessible for the masses. A football is a lot less expensive than a set of golf clubs and a round can take almost half the time. It may also, if I dare say it, require somewhat less practice and skill to get the basics, with many people finding it more intuitive to kick a ball rather than swing a club for the first time. Another benefit of FootGolf is it is open to people of all finesses, and even ex-pro footballers who are no longer young and fit enough to play professional football have taken up FootGolf.
Collectively, I think an effort has to be made so that FootGolf and golf can properly coexist. Although some people may be unhappy with large holes being dug on the course I think that the benefits that FootGolf can bring to the club are more important. Ultimately the Scottish FootGolf Open will bring a great influx of people to the club, from all over Scotland and more than likely several other countries as well; there will probably be some form of media coverage of the event thus providing positive publicity for the club. In several different ways the FootGolf open and FootGolf in general will bring extra revenue for the club, which would be invaluable. It has also been proven that FootGolf and golf can coexist in harmony at some of the most prestigious courses such as Celtic Manor. So there is no reason why FootGolf cannot become an integral part of Muckhart Golf Club too.