So what happens when you combine two of the most popular sports in the world? You end up with the game of FootGolf, of course!
While this is a relatively new activity in South Alabama, the American FootGolf League (AFGL) was actually founded in 2011. By the next year, the initial FootGolf World Cup took place in Budapest, Hungary.
FootGolf takes segments from its two base sports, although it is closer to golf than soccer. The game is played with a regulation FIFA No. 5 ball (14-16 ounces with a circumference of 27-28 inches) for adults or a No. 4 ball (12-13 ounces with a 25-26 inch circumference) soccer ball for youth at a golf course facility on shortened holes with 21-inch diameter cups. The rules mostly follow the standard regulations of golf.
“FootGolf is a new unconventional game to help grow interest in golf,” said Ted Bishop, president of PGA of America. “It combines the elements of soccer and golf on a modified course, and is growing in popularity across the nation.”
Players have adopted their own unique style of clothing. Typical attire includes a flat (Hogan style) cap, collared shirt, knee-high argyle socks plus golf style pants, knickers or shorts. For the feet, the use of indoor or turf soccer shoes are allowed; not full cleats. For golf facilities with a strict dress code, FootGolfers are asked to abide those rules.
The AFGL certifies courses across America. The set-up can be either nine or 18 holes.
According to the AFGL website, there are currently three official courses in Alabama. The newest is Glenlakes Golf Club in Foley, which began play on Feb. 4. The other courses can be found in Montgomery at Tallapoosa Lakes Golf Course and in Anniston at Cane Creek Golf Course. There are also players at Cypress Lakes Golf Club in Cantonment, Florida.
Glenlakes has the first 18-hole course certified in southern Alabama. The green fees are $12 for adults and $8 for students up to the age of 18. Players may bring their own soccer ball, or rent one for $1. The cart rental for 18 holes is $9.
The hours for play start after 1 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, all day on Saturdays starting at 7:30 a.m., and Sundays from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to closing. Glenlakes has two free practice holes adjacent to its game park and swimming pool. For more information and course rules, call 251-955-1220 or visit www.glenlakesmgalga.com/FootGolf/footgolf.html.
“We are very excited about FootGolf coming to our area, and thankful that Glenlakes has taken the initiative to build out the course,” said John Guidroz of SnapSoccer.com, a management company that works with youth soccer clubs throughout the country. “Our team is looking forward to hosting our first FootGolf event in the near future.”
The sport is beginning to spread across Baldwin County. On Saturday, Feb. 21, the inaugural Baldwin County FootGolf Tournament will take place at Lakewood Golf Club at the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort. The back-nine holes of the Dogwood Golf Course will be used.
The practice range and registration opens at 8 a.m. A review of format and rules will begin at 9:45 a.m., with play starting at 10 a.m. Lunch will be served at 1 p.m.
The tournament is open to the first 72 players to register, regardless of age. Children and adults are invited to play. Competitions are planned for both individual and teams of four.
First through third place will be recognized for players and teams. Other prizes will be awarded for closest to the pin and for longest kick.
The entry fee is $20, which includes a T-shirt and hot dog. Carts are available for $10 to players over the age of 16. For this event, soccer ball sizes 4 and 5 are permitted. Adult supervision is required for foursomes with children under 12. The dress code is golf attire. No soccer cleats or spiked golf shoes are allowed. Soccer socks are recommended.
For additional information, call the Lakewood Golf Shop at 251-990-6312.
‘Precocious’ wins spelling bee
As mentioned in a previous column, the GoDaddy Bowl contributes to community events throughout the year and not just during football season. Along with New Horizons Credit Union, they helped to sponsor the 88th annual Mobile County Spelling Bee on Feb. 6.
More than 60 elementary and middle school students from public, private and parochial schools competed. Winning for the third consecutive year was Mariam Hashmi. The eighth-grader at Mobile Christian spelled “precocious” in the final round. Marian Zha of O’Rourke Elementary was second while Zoe Blanton of Hankins Middle placed third.
The GoDaddy Bowl and New Horizons provided gift bags to all participants, while Jimmy Johns served lunch. The top three finishers were awarded plaques and cash prizes.
Hashmi is automatically guaranteed a spot in the Alabama Spelling Bee March 7 in Birmingham. Adventure Travel, the state spelling bee sponsor, will award the state champion an all-expense paid trip for two to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., May 24-29.
Busy on The Hill
Spring Hill College continues its transition into a NCAA Division II member. To help with the journey is Steve Wieczorek, who has been named the men’s soccer coach. He comes to SHC after serving as an assistant coach at Oregon State, Duquesne and Siena.
“I am pleased that Steve will become our next head coach,” said director of athletics Jim Hall. “It is exceptional to find a candidate who possesses both a strong professional preparation for the position, and a strong educational background in Jesuit education.”
— Although SHC has left the Gulf South Conference, the league still recognized 25 of its soccer players on the 2014 GSC FireSeeds Fall Academic Honor Roll. The Badger men placed 12 student-athletes on the roster, while the women earned 13 spots.
The honor roll highlights varsity student-athletes with composite grand-point averages of 3.0, competing in their sophomore, junior, senior or graduate student years of eligibility.