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Thursday, Dec 8, 2022
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Club or Foot? Either Way, It’s Still Golf

Van Nuys Golf Course is swinging into action with the footgolf craze. The 18-hole golf course on Odessa Street just south of Van Nuys Airport also operates as a footgolf course, a sport that allows soccer balls on the grass and much larger holes for players to kick them into. “First, and most importantly, it’s another income stream,” said Wayne Tyni, the head golf professional at Van Nuys. The course, which operates under a lease of airport-owned land, has offered footgolf for about two and a half years on nine holes, following the trend of other golf businesses. Second, it’s a marketing strategy, Tyni continued. If non-golfers start playing footgolf, that might entice them to try golf, he said. That’s important, because golf has been declining in popularity for years. Between 2006 and 2014, more than 600 golf courses have closed across the country, Tyni explained. Footgolf, on the other hand, has a growing fan base. The game mimics golf in concept and rules but switches out the golf club for a foot, the golf ball for a regulation-size soccer ball and the golf hole for a 22-inch diameter one. Players aim to kick the ball into the hole with the least number of touches. At Van Nuys, footgolfers share the course with golfers but the footgolf holes are either to the left or right of the putting greens, and they are identified with orange sticks while the golf sticks are white. Plus, players of each sport take turns so both aren’t on the hole at the same time, Tyni said. “It would be very difficult for a golfer to hit his ball by accident into a footgolf hole,” he added. “It would have to be a really, really bad shot.” There are now 500 footgolf courses in 45 U.S. states, according to the American FootGolf League Inc. in Palm Springs. The league was founded in 2011. Footgolf is cheaper than golf at Van Nuys. While prices for both sports vary whether it’s a weekday, weekend or holiday, playing nine holes of golf typically costs $10 a person while playing 18 footgolf holes (the same nine holes twice) costs the same, Tyni said. By comparison, 18 holes of regular golf costs between $19 and $22 per adult. Footgolf attracts at least 25 players weekly to Van Nuys, as well as soccer teams and companies that play for team-building. The business plans to add another nine footgolf holes in about a month to make an 18-hole course so it can host tournaments, which can pull in 100 or so people, Tyni said. And it wants to form footgolf leagues. “It opens up all the doors – revenue and green fees to the facilities and to the concession stands,” he added. – Carol Lawrence

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