Golf purists might object, but FootGolf, the relatively new hybrid soccer/golf sport, is here to stay and is growing to the extent that it has received what is tantamount to a seal of approval from the National Golf Course Owners Association.
Last week, the NGCOA announced that it has recognized the American FootGolf League as the governing body for the sport of FootGolf in U.S.
"Some people think we've been drinking the Kool-Aid or doing something strange," Mike Tinkey, deputy CEO of the NGCOA, said. "But what we've found since 2013 is that FootGolf has grown virally in our membership. It's bringing in new customers, a lot of millennials, families and women, and they're spending money. And their ancillary spend is very strong. It's sort of energized a lot of facilities."
The American FootGolf League was officially recognized, Tinkey said, for its history — it introduced the sport in the U.S. - and for "its support for owners," Tinkey said. "We felt its heart in the right place and it provides tools to help owners understand it."
It was welcome news at the American FootGolf League, obviously. "Our relationship with the NGCOA further validates the sport of FootGolf and the role of the AFGL in growing it in the United States," Roberto Balestrini, founder of the league, said in a news release. "We've got great relationships with many of the leading golf course operators already and look forward to continuing to expand and introduce FootGolf to new golf facilities in 2015."
The entry cost for FootGolf is relatively low, Tinkey said, "from under $3,000 to $5,000. And it's bringing in tens of thousands of dollars up to a hundred-thousand dollars in one case at an 18-hole facility."
There are two types of owners — those who would like to see the FootGolf players segue into golf and those who don't care.
"I think in the main we're interested in studying, as an association, whether there is a crossover to some form of traditional golf. I think we'll be looking at that."
Haggin Oaks in Sacramento is among those courses that have embraced FootGolf, as reported here.