Golf may be seen as one of the more traditional and some say rule bound sporting activities but that has not stopped the advance of a number of new variants that are bringing at least a version of the game to a wider potential audience.
Yesterday in Howth, County Dublin the traditional Deer Park club opened up an 18 hole FootGolf course with 150 metre par fives and holes that are considerably bigger than normal. They would need to be as they have to accommodate the full size football which is at the heart of the game.
There are no clubs, just turn up with your boots and a ball and away you go. There are other courses in Clondalkin and Tallaght and the sport held its first World Championship in Hungary in 2012.
The new sport has been accepted by the PGA in the United States as a genuine pathway to expanding interest in golf through non traditional means.
“The thing that excites me,” said PGA President Tom Bishop, “is that you’ve got the chance here to bring people in who are soccer-crazy and to give them the opportunity to go to the golf course, experience some things at the course and I think it would be ludicrous to think there won’t be a percentage of those people that might say, ‘Hey, you know what? I think I’d like to try and play golf.”
It remains to be seen whether it takes off at Portmarnock or Fota Island but breaking down old barriers and creating new forms of an old sport are always happening and sometimes can lead in areas that were once never thought possible.
After all the Webb Ellis Trophy for the Rugby World Cup is named after a man who picked up a soccer ball and ran into history as having ‘discovered’ rugby.
Soccer players have a history of involvement with golf and Howth is only a decent 3 Iron away from Malahide where the Republic of Ireland team will prepare for next Sunday’s home friendly against Turkey.