This Surrey golf club has given up golf to become a FootGolf centre

Martyn Clapham
By Martyn Clapham December 18, 2014 12:38

A Surrey golf club has closed down its golf course and is instead focussing entirely on FootGolf, the hybrid version of football and golf that has become increasingly popular in the last two years.

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It is thought to be the first time this has happened in the UK.

Burstow Golf Club in Surrey was a pay-and-play nine-hole parkland golf course that was struggling under the economic downturn.

It has now become Burstow FootGolf Centre, an 18-hole venue where participants try to kick a football into large holes in as few kicks as possible. A typical round takes about 90 minutes and prices range from £6 to £15, typically higher than the green fees Burstow Golf Club used to charge.

A spokesman said that the club was particularly attracting stag dos.

“We are under new management,” states the club’s website. “We are pleased to announce that long term manager and course designer Paul Wright has returned to Burstow FootGolf Centre after a six-year absence.

“The cafe and clubhouse have been redecorated and refurbished and offer a range of light meals, snacks and drinks, and we have special rates for seniors, juniors and societies.”

footgolf brian roberts

Image by Brian Roberts

The development at Burstow signifies the growth of FootGolf at a time when golf is in decline.

“Golf is a very expensive sport to play,” said Paul Collinson, the UK Footgolf Association’s business development manager. “You need a lot of technical ability to play it to a good level and it takes a lot of your time up. An average player takes four to four-and-a-half hours to go round 18 holes, whereas an average player can go round 18 holes of FootGolf in two hours.

“There are 80,000 people a year stopping playing golf, and the youth aren’t enticed to play it because it’s a technical sport, it’s really expensive and it takes a long time.

“Whether they don’t have that ability to concentrate for that long or they can’t be bothered to dedicate that amount of time to something, I don’t know. But 99 percent of people enjoy kicking a football and to be able to go on to a golf course and to be able to do something relatively successfully straight away gives them that instant satisfaction.”

Collinson added that 10 UK golf clubs offered FootGolf in 2013, today it is 54 with many more preparing to sign up.

Footgolf is also in the final stages of being officially recognised by Sport England.

“We are finding that golf courses that were really struggling and were realistically looking at closure are bringing in FootGolf and it is saving their business,” he said.

footgolf Crop 3

“But golfers are massively parochial about their sport. They hear the word football and they think of lager louts, they think of aggression, they think of people being rude and footballs flying around their course, and they are instantly turned off. They don’t realise that we have exactly the same etiquette as you would have on a golf course.

“We have had close to 6,000 people playing in 45 different competitions in 12 different counties in the last seven months. And on a weekly basis at our Doncaster course, for example, we will have 300 people playing FootGolf.

“Those sort of numbers are just not seen on golf courses at the moment.”

 

Martyn Clapham
By Martyn Clapham December 18, 2014 12:38
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3 Comments

  1. jon December 22, 07:25

    Pensioner Pete, seems to some up just about everything thats wrong with golf in his first sentence. As long as theirs plenty people like him still around golf will never grow.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Bob Braban December 20, 21:46

    An interesting article, but absolutely nothing to do with golf. It will not assist the development of golf. It’s football with different goals! Good luck to the venue though. Their move to another sport will decrease competition in their area and may help another club to survive.

    Bob Braban
    http://www.golfclubmarketing.org

    Reply to this comment
  3. pensioner pete December 19, 08:12

    Great opportunity to save the traditional game from the great unwashed – let the ‘Bunkered” brigade who previously only turned to golf when too old or unfit for football, have their foot golf. The acid test will be if it results in conversion down the line to the proper game when they have matured, but I doubt that. I would prefer to see more quality par 3 courses developed & promoted.

    Reply to this comment
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