FANCY a round of FootGolf? The new sport – a blend of soccer and golf – will be played for the first time in the Waikato at Gordonton’s Wedderburn Hukanui Golf Course later this month.
Secretary Linda Broughton says FootGolf is taking America by storm and when she first heard about it knew she wanted to try it at Hukanui.
“It started in the Netherlands, has been played throughout Europe but the Americans love it – 400 courses are doing it. Instead of having a golf club and ball, you have a size-5 soccer ball and the hole is half a metre wide.”
She was told about the sport by former New Zealand professional golfer Marnie McGuire, who is now a golf development officer with Waikato Golf.
“She held a boot camp here for ladies earlier in the year and we became friendly, and talked about how golf clubs everywhere are struggling – and how we need to think outside the square. She then sent me information about FootGolf and I said ‘Cool, we’re doing it!’”
Last Tuesday she and Marnie McGuire – along with golfer and soccer player Jason Boobyer – designed the new course which is possibly the first of its kind in the Waikato and upper North Island.
“’Around that tree, up that hill, round the corner’ – we had fun setting it up and now have an 18-hole FootGolf course on-site, all ready to go.”
The other initiative on offer is Snag Golf – which essentially uses an oversized plastic golf club and tennis balls lined with Velcro.
“Instead of holes we use targets. It’s fun and teaches the basics of golf. The Snag driving inflatable will be set up on the two days, so people can play a 9-hole short snag course before trying the FootGolf.”
There are some more traditional types who might not be sure about these ideas, she says. “Some members in various clubs may say ‘oh, you can’t do that.’ There are a few doubters. I have a group of retired gentlemen who play every Thursday, all asking me questions. One came up and said, ‘I know all about it now, and it won’t bother us.’ It won’t bother them because I want them all to have a go!”
Golf courses everywhere have to be forward thinking, she says. “We need to bring different ages to the game. The average age for a New Zealand golfer is 68 and people are doing different things with their time. I want families coming here, young and old, every one having a go. It’s very exciting having these two new sports happening at our little local club.”
One of her many jobs is to find snazzy outfits for the helpers. “In America they all dress up, wearing cheese cutter hats, colourful tops, bright trousers and funky socks. I’m hunting down the socks now…”
• Try FootGolf and Snag Golf for free at the Hukanui Golf Club in Gordonton on Sunday 30 August and Sunday 13 September, 10am – 2pm. All welcome. For more information, phone 07 824 3784.