Imagine playing par-4 holes that are less than 200 yards in length and with holes not 4.25 inches across, but approaching the size of manhole covers. Sounds like the ultimate scenario for posting your personal best golf score.

But here’s the kicker: The just described layout is for footgolf – or soccer golf if you prefer. (Or futbol golf if you are really a stickler.)

Golf courses across the country, seizing on new and imaginative revenue streams, combined with the burgeoning popularity of soccer in the U.S., have begun offering this alternative sport with the significantly larger ball.

If you are not familiar with footgolf – not to be confused with the golf cheater’s foot wedge –players kick off from a designated golf tee box. The super-sized holes are nowhere near the green complexes but normally tucked off the side of fairways in the rough – spots on the course where poorly struck golf balls are more apt to have landed. Two or three footgolf holes can be incorporated into one regular golf hole so only the front or back nine of an existing course come into play.

You count your number of kicks in relation to par for the hole – just like regular golf – until it’s in the hole.

With a son who is learning golf and is already an accomplished soccer player, giving this seemingly renegade sport a go on a recent vacation was a simple sell for a traditional golfer like me.

The patient golf pro behind the counter humored me with a slight smile when I asked him for a practice bucket of soccer balls, directions to the soccer driving range and the name of the goalie we would be facing. I was likely not the first, or the last, of the wise guys.

My son slammed the ball down the fairway with his instep in Landon Donovan-like ease. Never having played soccer growing up, I straight-toed the ball a la Tom Dempsey or George Blanda kicking old school NFL field goals. Even with such antiquated skills (no, I don’t shoot basketball free throws granny style) I was able to par the first three holes. That standard, nor my right quadricep, held up as well through 18. And it’s hard to believe, but the soccer ball can still find a way to lip out on holes big enough to wash a large load of clothes.

Footgolf is a great complement to regular golf. Like playing bump and run on a links style course, footgolf requires significant focus on reading terrain and judging speed.

Why not give it a try? Footgolf will give you a better appreciation of both soccer and golf. The American FootGolf League Web site can point you to the course offering Footgolf nearest you.

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