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Footgolf catching – or kicking – on in Woodridge

Published: Thursday, April 17, 2014 9:28 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, April 24, 2014 3:48 p.m. CDT
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(JOHN COX PHOTO)
Bob White of Lombard shoots for the hole during a foot golf tournament at Village Greens Golf Club in Woodridge Sunday afternoon. John Cox - For Suburban Life Media
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(JOHN COX PHOTO)
Kenny Williams lines up a foot golf shot at Village Greens Golf Club in Woodridge Sunday afternoon. John Cox - For Suburban Life Media
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(JOHN COX PHOTO)
A group of about 30 foot golfers from all over the area gathered at Village Greens Golf Club in Woodridge for the Illinois Foot Golf Association's 2014 Tour on Sunday. John Cox - For Suburban Life Media
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(JOHN COX PHOTO)
Foot golfers eye the course at Village Greens for the Illinois Foot Golf Association's 2014 Tour on Sunday. John Cox - For Suburban Life Media

WOODRIDGE – A new sport is getting a leg up in Woodridge.

Footgolf has been introduced at Village Greens Golf Course as a new sport that can be played on the links minus expensive clubs and in a more social atmosphere.

Players kick a soccer ball into an enlarged, 21-inch cup, or hole, in the fewest number of kicks, maneuvering around golf course obstacles such as trees and sandtraps, playing through winds and minding slopes.

The game appeals to soccer players, especially those who no longer have the conditioning to play, but that’s not the only clientele, according to Brandon Evans, general manager of Village Greens.

Evans explained he brought the game to the Woodridge Park District-owned course to draw in more families and youth.

“[Footgolf] takes out the barriers that you see in golf – the cost to play, the learning curve and the family time that you lose while you’re on the course,” Evans said. “The idea is to get the whole family out here. Mom and dad can play golf while the kids play footgolf in the same group.”

The footgolf course is built onto the golf course – players kick off from new tees with silver markers and the enlarged cups sit off the golf fairway with orange marker flags. Hole lengths range from 120 yards to 350 yards, from a par 3 to a par 5. Eighteen footgolf holes fit within the front nine golf holes.

The origins of the game are up for debate. The International Footgolf Association formed in 2009 and the game was standardized in Netherlands.

Evans said he heard of the game about a year ago while in California. The only other local footgolf course is located in Lockport, he said.

Carlos Stremi, president of the Illinois Footgolf Association, said Woodridge’s course is the eighth footgolf course in the state. His group is hoping to build the sport’s popularity. On Sunday, the IFGA hosted its 2014 Tour at Village Greens.

“Golf is a business game,” Stremi said, talking up his sport. “With footgolf, you can be social, laid back and have a laugh. ... Everyone can kick a soccer ball.”

Evans made it clear that golf is still Village Greens’ top priority.

“Golf is still our primary source of business. ... None of our golfers will be displaced,” he said.

For now, the game can be played at Village Greens, 1575 W. 75th St., after 5 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays. Depending on popularity, those hours could expand.

Rates will be congruent with golfing, he said, ranging from $10-$15 and $10 for a cart.

“We’re just going to see where it goes. We’re already talking about hosting leagues, outings and tourneys,” Evans said.

Evans encouraged prospective footgolfers to book a tee time in advance by calling 630-985-3610. Players can bring their own soccer ball or use a ball provided by Village Greens.

How to play

Just as in golf, footgolfers aim to kick the soccer ball into the hole (21 inches wide) in the fewest amount of strikes. Players start each hole driving up to two meters behind the markers. The ball must be played where it lies, trees and sandtaps included. If a ball lands in the water, place it two steps within where it last was near land, and take a one-point penalty. Regardless of the distance from the hole, players must sink the ball in the hole. After the first hole, the player with the lowest score on the previous hole goes first. Lowest score after all holes wins!

For a detailed look at the rules, visit shawurl.com/13s8.

Source: Illinois Footgolf Association

What you'll need

- Appropriate clothing: hat, shirt with a collar, golf pants or shorts, knee-high argyle socks, and indoor turf or soccer shoes (no cleats).

- A standard, #5 soccer ball.

- A course, of course!

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