FootGolf is a combination of the sports of soccer and golf. The game is played with a regulation #5 soccer ball at a golf course facility on shortened holes with 21-inch diameter cups. The rules largely correspond to the rules of golf. FootGolf as a game is played throughout the world in many different forms, but as a sport, it is regulated by the Federation for International FootGolf (FIFG).
The American FootGolf League (AFGL) is the exclusive member of the FIFG and governing body for the sport of footgolf in the United States. The AFGL is organizing tournaments throughout the country and working with golf courses to bring FootGolf to their clubs as another avenue for revenue and to develop the game further.
Sports Destination Management: How long as the sport of footgolf been around?
Juan Fernandez: The AFGL brought the sport to the US in 2011. It originally started in 2009 in the Netherlands. Before that it was an informal game.
SDM: How many facilities are there in the United States?
Fernandez: We have right now over 400 courses in 48 states that run footgolf and we estimate there are 10,000 tee times a year.
SDM: Is it more public or private facilities that are putting in footgolf?
Fernandez: I see a lot of interest from public courses; they are struggling and they are looking at footgolf for a new source of revenue. Of course, the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando has footgolf as well.
SDM: Do golf courses register with you in order to market themselves and the game?
Fernandez: Yes, we register and certify courses for footgolf play. We can tell them how to lay out the course. We also have a section on our website where they can be listed so that people can find a course that offers footgolf.
SDM: What do you hear from the golf courses who implement the sport?
Fernandez: A lot of times, we will hear them say, 'I never thought we’d have this many people this soon.' There are a lot of people out there who would never step onto a golf course if it weren’t for footgolf and once they’re out there, they see how much fun it is.
SDM: So it is a money-maker for the golf facilities as well?
Fernandez: Yes – it’s a family-friendly sport so you have people coming out with their children, and they’re all playing. They buy food and beverages in the club house, just like other golfers. What’s interesting is the appeal. If you have a golf outing for a company, it’s really limited to the people who can play golf, or who are comfortable playing golf with their co-workers. For footgolf, it’s different. Everyone can kick a ball so everyone can play.
SDM: Does footgolf move at the same pace as traditional golf?
Fernandez: No -- the pace of play is faster for footgolf; it takes about two hours to play a full game.
SDM: What are the demographics for footgolf?
Fernandez: It’s a lot of people ages 18-35 – all the millennials and the kids who played soccer in school, plus some older players who might play in soccer leagues – even former soccer players who are a little older and can’t play the running part of the game any longer – they all can come out and play footgolf. We even have a lot of seniors playing in their sixties.
SDM: Do you find there is any friction between traditional golfers and footgolfers?
Fernandez: Not so much friction, but it is a new sport and there’s a learning curve. The new footgolfers need to learn how to behave on a golf course. They cannot be screaming or running – they might have been used to that in soccer. You’re always going to have people who don’t like new versions of the sport, but it’s bringing in revenue. If I play my nine holes of footgolf, I’m paying my fees and the greens look good every morning because there’s money coming in.
SDM: What is the tournament circuit like for footgolf?
Fernandez: This year’s tournament circuit had four stops. Two were in Florida. The tournaments bring in players from all over the world; this year, we have over $100,000 in prize money. The next two tournaments are going to be in California and Washington.
SDM: How do you pick sites for footgolf tournaments?
Fernandez: We try to go east coast and west coast. We try to hold tournaments in areas where we have people who are currently playing. Anyone who wants to be able to host one of these tournaments can get in touch with us and see if we have a good amount of players around the area they’re suggesting.
SDM: To what extent does AFGL partner with local clubs?
Fernandez: We are about to launch a club umbrella under the AFGL so that people can create their own clubs and we can have more competitions at a local level We know there are already many clubs and leagues out there; we just want them to be able to find one another.