Golf on decline, though personification with soccer round might save it

May 13, 2016 - Soccer Balls

  • Pro golfer Paula Creamer prepares to applaud with ex-soccer star Abby Wambach as her feet putt goes into a hole and a other players, golfer Jessica Korda (left) and soccers Julie Foudy (right) conflict during a Footgolf Faceoff. Photo: David Cannon, Getty Images

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Your columnist is no Olympic athlete. But we recently managed to play 18 holes of golf in usually 45 minutes, though regulating a transport or lifting a golf club. And, no, this wasn’t a video game.

My secret? we was personification FootGolf, that involves kicking a soccer round into extra-large holes placed on law golf courses. This new sport, swelling quick in California, is one earnest answer to a full-blown statewide challenge: what to do about a bolt of golf courses?


In California, golf is not a matter of fun and games. It’s a $13 billion attention that has tangible a state’s landscape, tourism, genuine estate marketplace and a metropolitan finances of a hundreds of California cities with open courses. But golf has had a really bad decade, with a series of golfers and courses disappearing after 60 years of growth.

This decrease is differing since California’s expansion has been so tied to golf. The diversion was executive to a convenience economy that Californians combined to captivate millions of people here in a 20th century. In a 1950s, a Thunderbird Country Club in Rancho Mirage (Riverside County), one of a many courses built to sell new housing here, authorised Ford to use a name on a new automobile model, that in spin desirous a classical Beach Boys song. Does it get any some-more Californian than that?

While personification golf can be an particular pursuit, a game’s expansion was heavily subsidized, by development-friendly taxation laws and by internal governments that saw courses as an essential amenity. That investment in golf seemed correct in a 1990s when an Orange County child lifted on metropolitan courses — Tiger Woods — desirous a younger, some-more different era to take adult a game.

But in 2006, California’s housing predicament crashed a tellurian economy, and a whole universe incited tough opposite golf. The center category that postulated so many golf courses no longer had a income to persevere to an impracticable pastime. Golf unexpected was out of step: a face-to-face entertainment in a digital world, a delayed and well-behaved diversion in a quick and uncivil society. Trends in aptness also worked opposite golf, with Californians seeking worse practice and slimmer bodies than we find on golf courses.

With fewer business personification fewer rounds — and aloft H2O bills during a drought — California golf courses are struggling. A few dozen have closed, and some-more could close down. But replacing a golf march is a quandary. Some courses are subsequent to industrial sites or airports and sojourn useful as buffers. It competence make clarity to spin golf courses into desperately indispensable housing or open parks, though regulations and politics make such conversions formidable and expensive.

In a meantime, golf march operators are seeking new uses for their courses — from concerts to film shoots to automobile shows. Courses have experimented with events for immature singles that mix attack golf balls with video games and drinking.

One of a improved innovations is FootGolf, now being popularized by a American FootGolf League, formed in Palm Springs. More than 150 golf courses inhabitant combined Foot Golf final year, and we attempted it out one morning during an 18-hole standard 3 golf march in Arcadia, in a San Gabriel Valley.

The march had combined apart tees and tiny greens, with 21-inch-wide holes, off to a sides of a common golf greens. At a pro shop, we handed over a $15 immature price to a immature march worker named Jordan Godfrey, who happens to be America’s inhabitant FootGolf champion. He warned me not to repairs a well-manicured unchanging golf greens by kicking off of them.

I had a good time. Without a bag of golf clubs to carry, we jogged around a march in 45 minutes. Real golfers greeted me tenderly and let me play through. My usually fumble came on a damp fifth tee, when we fell as we kicked a round down a fairway, alighting tough on my bottom. That’s never happened to me personification unchanging golf. But no good California mutation is though a risks.

Joe Mathews writes a Connecting California column for Zocalo Public Square. To comment, contention your letters to a editor during http://bit.ly/SFChronicleletters

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