Hybrid game debuts in Silver Spring -- Gazette.Net


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In a new game, instead of yelling “fore,” players might yell “gooooallll.”

Golf and soccer have come together in a new sport in Montgomery County — FootGolf.

FootGolf is a combination of soccer and golf, played on a converted golf course. At each hole, players place the ball between tees and kick it toward a 21-inch diameter cup in the rough.

“The score is very similar to golf. Every kick you take is a stroke,” said Laura Balestrini, vice president of the Federation for International FootGolf.

Moving a ball in between strokes is not allowed.

On July 21, Northwest Golf Course in Silver Spring hosted the American FootGolf Kickoff Classic.

Northwest has the first FootGolf course in Montgomery County at an existing golf course and the second in Maryland. The other is the Chesapeake Bay Golf Club in North East in Cecil County.

To officially open Northwest Golf Course to FootGolf, Roberto Balestrini, founder of the American FootGolf League, and his wife Laura appeared at the July 21 event.

“We really want to promote the sport and we want to work with the golf courses. ... Because in order [for] the sport to become popular, it has to be played,” Roberto Balestrini said.

According to American FootGolf League officials, people have been playing the game in Europe since 2009. It spread in 2011 to South and North America.

Players must bring their own size 5 soccer ball or rent a ball for $3 at the golf course.

Balls must be marked clearly. A penalty stroke is assessed if a player kicks the wrong ball.

A ball must be at a complete stop. If it is rolling, a player cannot kick it.

Official rules are posted at www.fifg.org.

“It is a lot harder than you think,” said Denise Miller of Clarksburg. She took her children — Lauren, 18, Kirsten, 14 and Kevin, 8 — to Silver Spring to play the sport for the first time.

There is a dress code. A player must wear a light-colored shirt, with sneakers or indoor turf shoes. Cleats are not allowed, but argyle socks are in.

According to Keith Miller, executive director of the Montgomery County Revenue Authority, the county’s investment to make the golf course over for FootGolf was $3,000. That covered the cost of cups at the holes and soccer balls.

Miller said that before the official kickoff event on July 21, people were already calling the course, asking: “What’s FootGolf?.”

Miller said there are plans to open a second FootGolf course in Montgomery County in early September.

“We are hoping to launch a second location at Sligo Creek [Golf Course] in Silver Spring,” Miller said.

The Northwest Golf Course has 18 holes. Players pay $14.95 per person per round if they walk the course or $24.95 if they drive a golf cart.

To book a tee time, visit mcggolf.com.

The Balestrinis said they co-founded the Mexican FootGolf Federation, the Puerto Rico FootGolf Association and the Canadian FootGolf Association.

“A golf course is a beautiful place to play and there is nature. It is quiet. ... So, it is really a different experience when you get to go kick a ball on a golf course,” Laura Balestrini said.

abarros@gazette.net