By Margo Greenman
More and more people across Tacoma and the world are trying their hand – or foot, rather – at a new sport. FootGolf, which emerged in 2008 in the Netherlands, combines elements of both soccer and golf, creating a game that is both mentally and physically stimulating. Not your typical day on the green, FootGolf is played using a soccer ball on a traditional golf course that has been outfitted with 21-inch cups to accommodate the larger balls. With little required to play other than a ball and the course, FootGolf is a fun game that is affordable and accessible for players of all ages and skill level.
With 115 FootGolf courses currently operating in the United States, Metro Parks’ Meadow Park Golf Course in Tacoma is home to Washington’s first and only FootGolf course. Having just opened the course earlier this May, Meadow Park manager, Chris Goodman, says Tacoma has received the new sport well, and new and returning FootGolf players are flocking to the field. “It’s been a tremendous success,” he says.
The rules for FootGolf are simple: kick the ball using a single movement (no pushing the ball with the top or bottom of your foot) and try to get it in the hole in as few strokes, or kicks, as possible. If you do not land a hole-in-one, continue play, kicking the ball from where it landed. The order of play is based on the standings from the previous hole (e.g. the player who scored the highest on the previous hole goes first on the next hole and so on). If the ball goes out of bounds (indicated by white stakes on the course), the player must place the ball within two steps from where the ball crossed between the white stakes and receive a one stroke penalty. The game is over once all players have played the entire course. The player with the lowest score wins.
While the rules for gameplay mirror those of traditional golf, FootGolf is a very different game for a few very obvious reasons. With less gear and a smaller learning curve required than regular golf, FootGolf is a fun, inexpensive way to spend an afternoon with friends or family.
In fact, Goodman says one of his favorite things about FootGolf is how multigenerational it is. “We’ve already had three or four three-generational groups out there, and we’ve only been open a few weeks,” he exclaims.
But despite those obvious differences, Goodman says there are some aspects of the game that make it a great introductory sport for people who maybe aren’t ready to invest the time and money required to play regular golf, but might be interested in doing so later.
With Meadow Park’s FootGolf course running parallel to the park’s 18-hole championship green, Goodman says it’s too early to tell, but he’s hoping FootGolf will inspire some new blood on Meadow Park’s traditional course. Meadow Park’s championship green is a favorite for golfers located in, near and beyond the South Puget Sound, and is currently practice grounds for some PGA tour players including Troy Kelly and Andres Gonzales, as well as some other professional golfers.
Goodman is proud of Meadow Park, and with good reason. “It’s a pretty neat place to be,” he says. “We’re probably the most community-oriented inclusive golf course in the county.” In addition to serving countless community members on both their traditional golf and FootGolf greens, Meadow Park also hosts the bulk of the programming provided through The First Tee of South Puget Sound, an organization serving more than 9,500 youth across the South Sound region on the course and in the classroom. The park also has the largest Adaptive Recreation program in all of Pierce County.
Excited about all that Meadow Park has to offer the community, Goodman is especially excited about this new addition, open just in time for summer. FootGolf is available at the park seven days a week, and participants are encouraged to call ahead and reserve a slot on the field, as the course is anticipated to become more crowded as the weather continues to improve and school is let out for summer.
For more information about FootGolf gameplay, rates and more, or other golfing activities offered at Meadow Park Golf Course, visit Meadow Park’s website here.