Football on the fairways

Mike O'Connor taking part in the new sport of Foot Golf'PA1229-3
Mike O'Connor taking part in the new sport of Foot Golf'PA1229-3

WHAT do you get if you cross football with golf?

It is not a joke, you do genuinely get footgolf, a new sport which Bridlington is playing a central role in developing.

Mike O’Connor, who plays local football for Bridlington Tigers, has flown to America this week, to be the UK’s only representative at an international footgolf.

As well as playing the sport, he is taking an active role in promoting it in Britain too.

O’Connor said: “I actually thought I had invented the sport a few years ago.

“I have been a footballer all my life and I have played golf but never taken it seriously or been a member of a club.

“I thought it was a great idea to merge the two, but didn’t have the time to do anything about it.

“About a year ago, I thought I would try to do something about my idea to see if I could patent a sport, but discovered there was already a whole world of footgolf and a foundation had been set up in Holland in 2009.”

The rules are as you would expect. Instead of using a golf ball and a club, you have to kick a football into a 20-inch hole in the fewest shots.

Games are played on traditional golf courses, which have been slightly modified, although the first specific footgolf course in Britian is currently being built.

“The holes can be in obscure places, like in between two bunkers on a fairway, or in the rough, rather than on greens,” added O’Connor.

He admitted that at the age of 36, he was finding the prospect of running around a pitch for 90 minutes, more of a struggle than in previous years, which is why he was so taken with the idea of footgolf.

The former Headlands School pupil, who now works as a recruitment consultant for an engineering company, flew to Wisconsin earlier this week to play in the American FootGolf League’s grand opening event of the season at Wisconsin Dells Cold Water Canyon Golf Course.

O’Connor is part of a 24-strong field featuring 12 top American players and one player each from 12 countries where footgolf is starting to flourish.

“Everyone wants to play the game. I know a lot of the lads I have played with around here have said they want to have a go.

“Also it is a great recession sport, you don’t need lots of clubs, just a kit and a football.”