Heritage Golf Group brings trending West Coast sport to Hilton Head
You’re on the tee box at Port Royal Golf Club dressed in loose-fitting clothing and athletic sneakers when you take a running start and kick your soccer ball as far and straight as you can down the fairway.
by Chris Katon
Photos by Jack Davis
Welcome to the family-friendly sport of foot golf, a popular West Coast sport that has come to the Lowcountry.
“The game combines soccer and golf and is a fun new way to introduce kids and non-golfers to our sport,” said Port Royal General Manager Brady Boyd. “First and foremost we want our players to have a good time, so whether you bring your golf clubs or bring your soccer ball we want you to come to our course and have fun.”
In addition to attracting new clientele to the golf course, the game teaches new players the same principles and values associated with a round of golf.
“Players are asked to score and perform with integrity, honor and sportsmanship,” Boyd said.
The Port Royal staff has designed a practice hole for warm-up, then fashioned a nine-hole multi-use course that is open to the public three afternoons per week.
One popular aspect of the sport is that nine holes of FootGolf take only 45 minutes to play. Foot Golfers wanting to play 18 holes are able to play the course twice.
Since opening Oct. 2, the sport has steadily gained in popularity, attracting more participants each day.
“Right now we’re open for foot golf on Thursday, Friday and Saturday after 3 p.m., but we’re hoping to expand hours as the sport becomes more popular,” Boyd said.
The rules of foot golf largely correspond to the rules of golf and uses golf’s basic model, including tee boxes, greens, bunkers, hazards and nine holes or 18 holes to play.
Many of the same principles between FootGolf and the traditional game apply. You want to have a good drive and it’s easier to play from the fairway than the rough.
“The typical adult male can kick a soccer ball about 50 yards, so scoring still comes down to keeping the ball in front of you and demonstrating finesse and ingenuity around the greens,” Boyd said.
The sport is played with a soccer ball on a traditional golf course with 21-inch diameter cups, set to the side of the traditional greens, instead of the traditional 4.25-inch diameter cups. Par for 18 holes is 72 just as in regular golf.
Boyd says many of the same principles between FootGolf and the traditional game apply: “You want to have a good drive and it’s easier to play from the fairway than the rough.”
During our round I found myself in trouble on the 2nd hole when I tried to bend my drive from right to left to create some additional roll on my drive, but I shanked it into a grove of pine trees to the left of the fairway.
I arrived in the woods to find my ball settled on a clump of pine straw behind a picket fence of trees blocking me from advancing the ball forward back onto the fairway.
The recovery shot required a low, squib kick beneath a branch, over a clump of tree roots and up a hill to the side of the fairway, but it worked and I was back in the game. I had briefly considered a hero shot through a break in the canopy, but was happy with myself for taking my medicine and thinking myself out of jail.
My third FootGolf shot was a 40-yard downhill, bender that was struck almost perfectly and rolled along the contour of the fairway to within 10-feet of the oversize cup. I’d like to tell you I tapped in for par, but it didn’t happen. When I stepped up to putt I turned my foot sideways and yanked it left and had to settle for bogey.
Walking to the next tee I found myself all the more determined to get my next drive in the fairway and decided I would mimic my playing partner’s top-tap approach to control the ball around the greens.
I came away from my FootGolf experience with three thoughts: “Anyone can kick a soccer ball; the game is a ton of fun; and I’m definitely going back!”
Mr. Boyd said the group sales department is already taking reservations for FootGolf team building activities and other corporate events. For more information call 843-681-1750.
Port Royal Golf Club hosts FootGolf rounds after 3 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.