Golf is an infuriating sport. Prostate exams and unexpected pregnancies are the only two things on this Earth that can draw more curse words from a man's vocabulary.
Soccer looks like it might be exhilarating to play if you can run 10 miles in two hours without wondering if you need visit an emergency room. That's out of the question for me thanks to my love for alcohol, red meat and moving only in order to get those two things.
The latest recreational sports trend has combined the two into something called "FootGolf," a golf-style game that's not a sequel to the derp-filled fest that was the movie BASEketball. In the vein of disc golf, it replaces the tiny white ball and bag of expensive clubs with a soccer ball and your good kicking leg.
The Lake Park Golf Club in Lewisville is the first in Dallas/Fort Worth to offer a nine-hole golf course with holes for both FootGolf and regular golf. Sean Swanberg, the club's general manager, said the sport first gained traction in California and slowly started to move east as more players started bringing soccer balls to local golf courses with the necessary 21.5-inch-wide cups.
The game scores just like a regular round of golf on stroke play and each full kick counts as one swing. Putting works the same way except your leg has to make a full motion no matter how close it is to the hole. Basically, if you can kick a golf ball in a fit of spittle-filled rage, you can easily pick up FootGolf.
"Just kick it and have fun," Swanberg said.
For my first outing, I invited two friends who I thought could easily gauge both sporting concepts that had been mashed together. John Redding was perfect for the soccer side since he's a big FC Dallas fan. Technically, he's the only Texas resident I know who's interested in soccer or doesn't refer to it in the same way they refer to ballet or the Ice Capades.
Andrew Ross is an attorney. Therefore, I assumed that he must play golf because, well, he's an attorney. Once again, I was guilty of unfairly stereotyping. He did, however, wear plaid shorts to our outing so I gave myself half of a guilt-mulligan.
The game is deceptively simple. Kicking a ball looks easy because it sounds like basic physics. The inertia of your leg and foot propel the ball forward -- or forwardish -- until gravity and friction or the lack of ground due to a hole stops the ball. Once you realize, however, that you almost flunked physics, it becomes a challenge. We approach the first hole and we each try to kick it toe-first, but the ball takes on a trajectory that goes anywhere but near the hole. It appears to become easier with our second shot, but by the time "putting" comes into play, it goes right back to being the athletic equivalent of a childish game of "Made you look" only with less gut-wrenching heartache.
John takes a tiny kick that's right in front of the flag and I accidentally kick the ball in a spot that's right in front of his, blocking it. The pain doesn't end there for poor John. He lines up the shot perfectly but the bastard ball jumps over the first lip and bounces over the second, causing him to utter the first "Son of a bitch!" I've ever heard him say. I, on the other hand, utter more curse words than an episode of Deadwood.
By the end of the first hole, we're all well over par but with each progressive hole, we slowly struggle our way closer and closer to just under mediocrity. Sometimes shots still go wild. Balls don't end up anywhere near where we intend. Putting is by far is still the most frustrating and gripping part of the game because inches in any sport look deceptively easy to someone who doesn't understand the tiny fractions of control need to direct an object at a short distance. (Ever seen an NBA pro miss a layup? And those guys are good at what they do.)
The outcome really didn't matter because we all experienced something healthy, unique and fun and we didn't risk our health and safety or break laws in international waters to do it. However ... just for the record ... it's really no big deal ... I won. That makes me the winner. Because I won (cue "We Are the Champions").
Lake Park Golf Course is located at 6 Lake Park Road, Lewisville. Afternoon tee-times are available daily except Thursday. Fees are $9 or $11 for 18 holes.
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