Lake Ridge and General’s Ridge golf courses are hosting a tournament this month, but you won’t need clubs or a caddy. The July 19 and 20 event at the two Prince William County courses is for footgolf, a sport new to Northern Virginia this year.
Footgolf, which originated in the Netherlands and made its way to the West Coast of the United States in 2011, is a soccer-golf hybrid. Players walk the course and try to kick a size 5 soccer ball into a 21-inch bucket. It has caught on quickly at the two Billy Casper Golf-owned courses in the county, the only places in Northern Virginia to play the sport.
“You don’t have to learn a game per se; all you have to do is be able to kick the ball,” said Mark Wesolek, the regional manager for Billy Casper Golf. “This is a way people can get out and breathe a little bit of fresh air, have a little bit of a recreational experience and be with their friends.”
Joey Adams, the general manager of the course at Lake Ridge, said that there is already a group of regular players and that people are traveling from the Maryland suburbs to play as word of the new sport spreads. Forty-three people played at the course June 26, he said, a one-day record. The previous high was 40, on Father’s Day.
Because footgolf doesn’t require any special equipment and is a quicker game than regular golf, Wesolek said, it attracts a somewhat younger and more ethnically diverse crowd.
Recently, Adams said, three women came in and asked whether they could get lessons from an instructor. Adams doesn’t have anyone on staff to teach footgolf — yet. It’s popular with families who come in for traditional golf, too, he said. The adults play the regular game while the kids play footgolf.
And although it sounds simple enough — how hard can it be to kick a ball into a large bucket? — it is deceptively challenging, particularly for people who are used to traditional golf.
“While this is an easy golf course, it’s a hard footgolf course,” Wesolek said. “They’re long, and the holes are in places where, because there’s just enough rounding undulation, if you get it on the wrong side of the hill, it just takes you all the way away from the hole, and now you have to work your way back.”
Wesolek said it might be easier for soccer players than for people who, like him, are golfers. It’s more than just reading the greens, he said. You have to really know how to manipulate a ball with your foot, so you hit the sweet spot between kicking it too hard and not hard enough.
“You have to have proper timing and sequencing of body parts and movements,” Wesolek said. “Here I am running up and giving it everything I’ve got and the ball doesn’t go anywhere, it goes way over there. I’d be much better off employing good technique and a little bit of tempo, and I could probably kick the ball farther, with the right trajectory.”
And in case you have a thing about knee-high argyle socks, don’t worry. Adams said he doesn’t enforce the official footgolf uniform of a flat cap, collared shirt, golf-style pants, knickers or shorts, and knee-high argyle socks at his course. He does require that players wear sneakers or indoor soccer shoes, though, because cleats could damage the greens.
A nine-hole round of footgolf at Lake Ridge is $10 per person. An 18-hole round at General’s Ridge is $12 per person walking, $21 with the use of a golf cart. To register for the Washington D.C. Footgolf Open tournament, call the Lake Ridge Golf Course at 703-494-5564 or General’s Ridge Golf Course at 703-335-0777. The first day is a 9 a.m. shotgun shot July 19 at Lake Ridge, with a toast at the beginning and lunch after, for $40. On July 20, golfers will have a 1 p.m. shotgun start at General’s Ridge, including a toast and heavy hors d’oeuvres after, for $79. The cost to enter both days is $119 per person.