Silliman on Sports
By Stan Silliman
WILL TIGER TAKE UP FOOTGOLF?
Women’s Soccer is the hottest sport this week even though Tiger Woods shot an opening round 66 at Greenbrier. Tiger has since returned to earth, falling way off the lead (tied for 43rd) and becoming the Tiger we’ve all fallen out of love with. On the other hand, the USA Women’s soccer team will meet Japan in the World Cup Finals.
What does this mean to you and me? The answer is FootGolf, game played with a soccer ball on golf courses. Two sports going the opposite direction appear to be simpatico in saving one another.
Wait? What? Golf is down?
Oh, yeah. Lower than Danny DeVito’s putter. Sales are flatter than John Daly on the floor of Hooter’s. Both TaylorMades and Calloway report 10 to 20% drop in sales. I don’t know which company provided Elin Nordegren with a seven-iron but whoever did should sue the other one for the decline of golf. Green fee counts are down. TV revenue down since no charismatic golfer replaced Tiger enough to grab fan interest. Over seven hundred 18-hole courses have closed.
In the meantime, youth soccer became our fastest growing sport among youngsters. Do you get it? Golf courses, in an effort to fight declining course fees have put FootGolf courses on the same property as the regular courses to go after younger customers. While seven hundred courses in the U.S. have closed, five hundred FootGolf courses have opened. FootGolf courses are shorter, average hole length 160 yards, smaller green fees ($ 10 compared to $ 40), equipment cost almost negligible, the cost of a few # 5 (8 ½” diameter) soccer balls compared to $ 100s, even $ 1000s of dollars of clubs, gloves, balls and/or caddies. Plus FootGolfers rarely use carts and finish their rounds in two hours rather than four.
The FootGolf courses have tee boxes, bunkers, water hazards and greens… with 21” holes. Just for comparison, 21” hole to an 8 ½” ball is almost exactly the same ratio as 4 ¼” cup to 1 5/8” golf ball. It’s not unusual in Europe to see professional soccer players hit the FootGolf courses on their days off. But the question remains, who makes for better FootGolfers, soccer players or golfers? Soccer players can probably strike the ball better but are used to running and flat surfaces. A golfer is better able to read a terrain and know where to place the shot and how it’s going to roll. That’s why we think Tiger Woods, who has had soccer experience, and still pretty athletic might excel in FootGolf. Hey, Nike and Adidas are fighting it out for the FootGolf shoes and clothing, why wouldn’t FootGolfers want to wear Tiger Woods argyle socks and indoor soccer shoes. We think Tiger should take up the game.
The best FootGolfers in America, right now, are Californians Bryan Byrne and Javier Barrionuevo. However, neither one yells “Fore!” more like “Goaaaaal!”
Don’t you want to take up FootGolf? Buy indoor soccer shoes (no cleats allowed), don the knickers or shorts, argyle socks and kick around the old footie ball? You’re not going to lose an 8 ½” ball in the rough or the woods and if you knock it in the lake, it will float to the other side. And you don’t even have to bring your own balls to the course. They’ll rent them cheap. While you’re waiting on the tee box you can show off your soccer ball juggling skills. Hit it into the hole from out on the fairway? “Gooooooaaalll.” Fun, right?
Be my friend at facebook.com/stan.silliman
|Silliman On Sports
2405 Wilcox Drive
Norman, OK 73069