Golf Course Management

JUL 2014

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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46 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 07.14 The lengths to which golf has gone to grow the game sometimes could be viewed as extreme. Chicken wire might be classifed as extreme. Then again, as golf organizations ranging from GCSAA to PGA of America and USGA seek to fuel a golf surge coming off years of economic hardships that affected everything from golf to groceries, perhaps chicken wire isn't such a zany idea. "You've got to do what you've got to do," says GCSAA Class A superintendent Kevin Fateley. Like Fateley, superintendents nationwide have emerged as vital cogs in growing the game. At Fateley's Wildcat Creek Golf and Fitness, where strategically placed chicken wire fencing prevents balls from plummeting into the facility's namesake creek, this is so much more than a golf course. Approximately 80 miles west of GCSAA headquarters, in the heartlandesque city of Manhat - tan, Kan., where legendary coach Bill Snyder put Kansas State University football on the map, there is a new game in town. The craze appears to be sweeping across the country. It is called FootGolf. You may have read about it. Seen it. In fact, "NBC Nightly News" had a segment on it in late May. In late spring, HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" was at Haggin Oaks in Sacramento to do a story. In case you are unfamiliar with it, FootGolf is played on a golf course, but you use a No. 5 size soccer ball instead of a Titleist. The cups are about 21 inches in diameter. No cleats or spikes allowed. You tee off the same as golfers (not at the same time of course, but you do reserve tee times the same as you would in golf ) to holes that usually are located off the greens. Yes, you even can kick out of a bunker. FootGolf seems to have gained quite a foothold in America. According to American FootGolf League co-founder Roberto Balestrini, more than 130 golf courses in the U.S. had FootGolf as of June 1. He projects that number to be 500 by year's end. "I am a big fan of the golf industry. This puts people on golf courses. Some of them are just using their leg instead of a club," Balestrini says. One course that has FootGolf also happens to be the home course of PGA of America Presi - dent Ted Bishop. "Since we put in FootGolf May 3, we've had more rounds of FootGolf than golf," says Bishop, a fve-year member of GCSAA, from The Legends Golf Club in Franklin, Ind. "It's incumbent upon us to embrace some of these ideas." Since Wildcat Creek decided to include FootGolf as one of its options for members and pa - trons, interest continues to escalate. "We opened March 18," says Fateley, a 24-year GCSAA member, noting his FootGolf course measures approximately, 1,930 yards, including a par-5 that is 242 yards. "We're up to 125 people playing. It's taking off." The key for the golf course industry, including superintendents, is whether FootGolf players Top: FootGolf on a weekend in Kansas City at Heart of America Golf Academy. Bottom: PGA of America president Ted Bishop has a FootGolf course at his Indiana facility. Photo courtesy of PGA of America 044-055_July14_FootGolf.indd 46 6/18/14 8:23 AM

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