From the land that brought you tulips, Van Gogh, and parsimonious dating rituals comes Footgolf, the sport you never knew you were missing. Little explanation of the game itself is necessary: It's simply golf played with regulation size-5 soccer balls and 20.5-inch diameter holes. Yet what seems like a diverting, if lazily conjured, drinking pastime is quickly becoming a worldwide phenomenon since its formal invention in The Netherlands in 2009. There are now eight courses there and the first World Cup kicks off in Hungary on Friday and runs through June 3. Keeping up our end of the trend, the American Footgolf League hopes to open several dozen courses across the country in the next few years.
The first official course is due to open any day now on the Coldwater Canyon Golf Course at the Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.
If our shorthand explanation of the game merely explains the gist of the rules, actually playing Footgolf makes the distinction between it and its forebears instantly apparent – and why the sport is so addictive. The third hole of Chula Vista's hilly 18-hole course (consisting of shortened par-3, par-4, and par-5 holes cut in beside the regular green) lies at the end of a gentle slope, which itself ends in a steep drop-off. Making your approach requires the same finely calibrated technique and soft touch as regular golf. Only with a pretty major tactical tweak, since the oversized ball is far less affected by short grass and so rolls a lot more. To avoid overshooting the hole and going off the deep end, you'll need to deliberately aim your ball for the thick rough. Ultimately, like golf, Footgolf success relies a lot on the short game. "Putting is still where you win and lose," says Footgolf Wisconsin's Juan Fernandez. "You need to have the same read. Only the putter is your foot."