FOOTGOLF: Sunday event in LaPlace introduces accessible game for whole family

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, June 21, 2017

LAPLACE — Joshua Alt doesn’t play a lot of golf.

He did play a little soccer when he was younger.

Nowadays, Alt is enjoying playing both — at the same time.

Alt is the local leader of the newest sport trying to gain a foothold in the area.

David Oubre grabs a soccer ball out of the cup at Riverlands Golf and Country Club.

It’s called footgolf, and it is exactly what it sounds like — the traditional game of golf played with a traditional soccer ball and feet.

Yes, the holes on the course are bigger to accommodate the larger ball and no, you can’t use them for your regular golf game.

The appeal, Alt says, is it’s quicker, easier, cheaper and more accessible than traditional golf.

“Anyone can play it — young, old, kids,” Alt said. “All you need is a soccer ball. You don’t have to go buy $300 clubs. It’s a lot cheaper. Also time; for us to play a good game of footgolf takes us about an hour and a half, tops. It’s a cheap, fun outdoor activity. All you have to be able to do is swing your leg.”

The curious will be able to get a first-hand look at the game when Riverlands Golf and Country Club, the newest footgolf course, and NolaFootGolf host the Footgolf Open at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Joshua Alt prepares to tap in a short kick.

Anyone is welcome to play and will be matched with teams plus an experienced footgolfer to explain the rules. The entry fee is $30 for men and women 16 and over and $25 for boys and girls 15 and under.

Proper golf attire must be worn and turf/tennis shoes only — no cleats.

Cash prizes will be awarded for the top performers, including longest drive and closest to the pin.

Participants may preregister at or on the day of the event at Riverlands Country Club, 500 Fairway Drive in LaPlace. Email for more information.

Alt formed NolaFootGolf a few years ago and began organizing tournaments and bringing friends and followers to other events out of state.

It was Pablo Cases, an avid golfer and member of the board at Riverlands Country Club, who brought it to LaPlace.

Cases was on vacation in Alabama when he saw the game advertised on a brochure. While playing his own game, he watched the Footgolfers do their thing.

“It looked pretty interesting,” he said. “We watched them play and kick the ball and thought it looked cool.’”

After finding NolaFootGolf on Facebook, Cases tried it himself.

“It was as much fun as it looked,” he said. “I brought my kids out here to play and told them the rules and, after the first three holes, that was it. What’s great is, not only is it getting them to the club, it’s introducing them to the game of golf. The rules are identical. They have the same respect for the course. The only thing different is, you only have two clubs — a left or a right.”

Cases brought the game to Riverlands club president Bill Bennett.

“Pffft,” Bennett said the first time Cases approached him. “What is he talking about? The second time, I said, ‘Oh. He’s serious.’”

Well aware of the struggles many of the nation’s golf courses are enduring to stay open, Bennett didn’t hesitate long.

“What appealed to me is, it’s the traditional game of golf,” Bennett said.

“They follow all the rules. They wear traditional golf attire. It’s not just some guys out in tanks and shorts kicking a ball around on our golf course.”

It took only a few weeks to build the course along side the existing fairways, plant the 21-inch white buckets for holes and the new orange flags. Footgolfers do not play the same holes as the regular golfers.

Players have three tee options to choose from, each more challenging. Riverlands’ champion tees are actually the longest in the country. Holes are mostly par 5 and range from 85 yards to about 200 yards.

Alt, who helped design the course, said there are six courses in the state and about 300 across the country.

“This one’s the best, though,” Alt said. “It is a challenge. We didn’t just design it to our strengths, we designed it so it’s fair, competitive and challenging — but not too challenging to the point where you lose sight of the game and get frustrated.”

Like golf.