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updated: 6/27/2014 8:24 AM

Bonnie Dundee Golf Club brings new hybrid sport of FootGolf to Fox Valley

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  • Alex Lenski, 16, of Geneva, rims his soccer ball around the 20-inch cup as he plays FootGolf at Bonnie Dundee Golf Club.

       Alex Lenski, 16, of Geneva, rims his soccer ball around the 20-inch cup as he plays FootGolf at Bonnie Dundee Golf Club.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Garrett Otto chips his soccer ball toward the 20-inch cup at Bonnie Dundee Golf Club. "(FootGolf) is nice because you don't have to lug around a lot of gear," Otto said.

       Garrett Otto chips his soccer ball toward the 20-inch cup at Bonnie Dundee Golf Club. "(FootGolf) is nice because you don't have to lug around a lot of gear," Otto said.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Alex Lenski kicks from the fairway as he plays FootGolf with friend Garrett Otto, both 16 of Geneva, at Bonnie Dundee Golf Club in Carpentersville. "It's a great combination of two great sports," said Lenski.

       Alex Lenski kicks from the fairway as he plays FootGolf with friend Garrett Otto, both 16 of Geneva, at Bonnie Dundee Golf Club in Carpentersville. "It's a great combination of two great sports," said Lenski.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Garrett Otto tees off at Bonnie Dundee Golf Club in Carpentersville as he plays FootGolf with Alex Lenski. Both are 16 and live in Geneva. The sport combines golf with soccer, and is played on a golf course.

       Garrett Otto tees off at Bonnie Dundee Golf Club in Carpentersville as he plays FootGolf with Alex Lenski. Both are 16 and live in Geneva. The sport combines golf with soccer, and is played on a golf course.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
By Lauren Rohr
lrohr@dailyherald.com

Switch out a golf ball for a soccer ball and replace a golf club with your foot, and you get FootGolf, a growing international sport making an appearance in various parts of the country, including in Illinois.

A combination of soccer and golf, FootGolf is an easy-to-learn, fun-to-play sport, said Carlos Stremi, director and founder of the Illinois FootGolf Association. The object of the game is to kick the ball in the hole using the fewest number of kicks possible, an idea similar to golf, but the players use their feet.

"It's a game of precision," Stremi said. "And it's a lot of fun."

Various FootGolf courses have been popping up across the state, including the new course at the Bonnie Dundee Golf Club in Carpentersville. The Dundee Township Park District hosted a kickoff event last month at the course, where about 50 people of all ages showed up to play.

"Some had played FootGolf before, and some had never played and thought it sounded like fun," said Helen Shumate, director of marketing and communications for Dundee Township Park District. "Everyone had a good time."

Participants at the kickoff event came from all over the Chicago area, including Crystal Lake, Schaumburg and Chicago.

Mike Contreras, athletic supervisor for the park district, said conversations about bringing FootGolf to Dundee Township began in December 2013, and plans to create the course started becoming a reality in April.

Because the sport is played using a No. 5 standard-size soccer ball, the holes throughout the course are much bigger than those on a regular golf course -- 21 inches in diameter. Otherwise, the FootGolf course, set up for either 18 or nine holes in a game, is fairly similar to a standard golf course, Shumate said.

The Illinois FootGolf Association assisted throughout the process and was especially helpful in laying out the FootGolf course at the golf club, Contreras said. The course then received a mark of IFGA quality.

"We want to make sure the layout is done correctly," Stremi said. "We want to make sure the quality of the course is up to the standards to play a good, fair game."

FootGolf is a game that can be enjoyed not only by Dundee Township's golf community, but also by soccer players, Contreras said. Dundee Township's soccer community contains more than 500 kids in the youth league and more than 50 teams in the adult league, he said, most of whom would jump at the opportunity to kick a soccer ball off the "nice, clean, almost pristine fairways."

"It's pretty much the dream of any soccer player to play soccer on a golf course," Stremi said.

A year ago, Contreras said he had never heard of FootGolf before.

"Now I'm hearing it all over the place," he said.

That's one of the Illinois FootGolf Association's biggest goals -- bringing awareness to the sport and supporting the organizations that want to bring it to their communities, Stremi said.

"We care about it. We want to commit to bringing it to the state of Illinois," he said.

Those interested can play FootGolf after 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The cost is $12 per person, and an additional $9 to rent a golf cart. To check availability or to book a tee time, call (847) 426-5511 or visit www.bonniedundeegc.com.

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