Golf

Golf plus soccer equals new sport: FootGolf

What would happen if you combined two prominent international sports?

A burgeoning new sport would emerge say some hopeful entrepreneurs (mad geniuses?) who are trying to combine golf and soccer into a hybrid sport called FootGolf.

First, there is golf. A sport that is of high interest in the United States and Europe and expanding to other areas of the world.

How much has golf expanded?

Even North Korea has a golf course. In fact, when the first golf course was built in North Korea, the Pyongyang Golf Complex, the state media reported that former North Korean leader Kim Jong il played there, and it also revealed he had 11 holes-in-one in that round — not bad, since that was the first round of golf he had ever played.

Note of caution to readers: North Korean state media is infamously known for exaggerating the accomplishments of its supreme leaders.

Then there is the other sport beside golf in the combination — soccer. It is considered the world’s most popular sport. Sorry NFL fans, football’s popularity is mainly in the United States. Futbol of the soccer variety tends to dominate globally.

So, some people are trying to combine golf and soccer into the sport of FootGolf and, as of now, the results are — well, there are no complete results at this point. South Florida, where FootGolf is being played at various courses, will become a major testing spot for the hybrid sport.

The American FootGolf League (AFGL to make it sound absolutely official) will be hosting its first 2015 Pro-Am Tournament at International Links-Melreese Country Club in Miami on Sunday through Tuesday. Players will be vying for the Inter-American Trophy with competitors from Argentina, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Hungary, Norway, Italy, England, Spain and the United States, among others, having already committed.

FootGolf is played with a regulation soccer ball on a shortened golf course. The sport features something every golfer would like to see — a 21-inch hole. Basically, you try to get the ball in the hole with as few kicks as possible.

And, golf purists, relax. The holes are not on the greens, so they will not be torn up.

“We expect at least 120 players and their families to come to the tournament,” said Charlie DeLucca Jr., general manager at International Links.

The tournament will offer a first-place prize of $5,000 followed by prizes of $3,000 for second, $2,000 for third, $1,500 for fourth and $1,000 for fifth.

The tournament at International Links will consist of a practice round on Sunday with tournament competition starting at 9 a.m. Monday and Tuesday.

PALLOT HONORED

John Pallot, a teaching pro at Miami International Links, was recently selected as one of the country’s top 50 youth golf instructors by U.S. Kids Golf.

Pallot, a PGA member for 25 years, has been the Southern Chapter PGA Teacher of the Year in 2003 and 2013 and twice been named to Golf Digest’s Best Teachers in Florida.

On the playing side, Pallot, who started playing golf at age 7, won the Senior Southern Chapter PGA Championship in 2014. Pallot grew up across the street from the Granada Golf Course in Coral Gables.

Going to Coral Gables High, Pallot was the Miami Herald Golfer of the Year in 1977 and ’78. In ’77, he was also the eight-ranked junior in the country and went on to play for the University of Miami from 1978 to ’82.

“My advice to parents who want to get their children into the game,” Pallot said, “is to find a PGA pro and let them be the guiding force. The parents should be there for support and encouragement. I’ve been around golf my entire life and berating your child for poor performance always leads them to a negative feeling toward the game.”

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