FootGolf in Action

While it can be difficult and sometimes downright impossible to explain the sport of footgolf to the uninitiated in a way that doesn’t make it sound completely ridiculous, witnessing the sport in action can give some credibility to this new craze sweeping the nation. In the US alone, the American Foot Golf League has already accredited golf courses in forty eight states as suitable grounds for footgolfers to enjoy their newly found passion.

The video below explains the sport in the context of footgolf as a great outlet in the world of youth sports. Traditional golf and soccer coaches are pleased at the rise in this interesting new sport as a side effect may include an increase in the sports of soccer and golf for those who have never played before.

Golf Meet Soccer, Soccer Meet Golf. Hello FootGolf

Adrian RubinWhile many of us golf aficionados are sticklers for the rules and etiquette of the game, it’s always exciting to see new ways that people like to try and turn the sport on its head. Most recently a story emerged out of Wichita, Kansas discussing the new trend that is sweeping the country. A sport that combines elements of two classics. Footgolf is now emerging as the perfect sport for those athletes that cannot choose between soccer and golf. Since the beginning of 2014, the number of officially accredited courses for the sport have spiked from a mere 22 to  a whopping 432. These numbers are absolutely staggering when you consider how difficult and almost silly it can be when trying to explain the sport. In spite of the seemingly absurd premise, the League has accredited courses in 48 states. The numbers don’t lie, something must be working when it comes to this new sport.

The Rules

As the name suggests, the sport is quite similar to golf, but of course there are just enough differences to classify it as a new sport! The objective is the same as that found in golf – to get the ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible. However, in this case, the player is using a soccer ball and trying to kick it into the 21” hole. Typically, an 18 hole footgolf course can squeeze into the parameters of a nine hole golf course. While the simple explanation may not seem all that captivating, it is a dynamic take on both golf and soccer and provides a bit more action than your typical golf gain and more control and focus than your average game of soccer. To learn more about the American FootGolf League, visit their site here.

 

FootGolf – Who’s in Charge?

Although Footgolf has seen  a marked uptick across the US in the past two years, it is in fact a game that is played all over the world in a variety of forms with rules that can vary. However, the Federation for International FootGolf , also known as “FIFG” oversees and regulates the official sport rules. Locally in the United States however, the American FootGolf League or AFGL is the sole regulatory member based in this country as recognized by FIFG. Obviously the AFGL has been hard at work over the past couple of years as this governing body organizes tournaments all over the country in cooperation with golf courses.

It’s a very exciting time for this emerging sport and many of those who play the sport are devoted followers who compare taking up this new sport now to getting involved with Apple in 1987. They are completely convinced that it is the next big thing. While only time will tell, footgolf is certainly worth giving a shot now.

The PGA Talks Diversity

Adrian RubinEarlier this week, Pete Bevacqua, the CEO of the PGA of America spoke at the 4th Annual Sports Diversity and Inclusion Symposium on Citi Field. Bevacqua noted the fundamental need for changes within the organization to make it a much more inclusive sport as a whole. Last year, the PGA elected Suzy Whaley for the role of secretary, marking the arrival of the first female officer in the organization’s history.

This fact highlights one of the criticisms that the PGA of America faces regularly, the idea that the sport is exclusively intended for wealthy white men. While unfortunately this stereotype is often supported by the sport’s history within this country, it’s clear that the PGA is making inclusion and institutional changes a part of the organization’s new mission. The CEO exclaimed, “If we’re not more diverse in the next 25, 50, 100 years, the sport’s in trouble. So instead of hiding from that, we’re embracing that, and we’re trying to institute those changes at every aspect of our organization.”

The CEO recognized that while the organization has made strides in terms of including a more diverse roster of young stars today than in the past, the PGA needs to incorporate more diversity throughout the organization to more accurately reflect the fans.

Bevacqua acknowledged that many of the golf clubs that host the organization’s famed championship have a history of exclusivity and that the PGA may not have the power to change these membership policies in a direct way. However, he did acknowledge that the PGA has the power to not do business with clubs that stay set in their exclusive ways and to instead support clubs that have more inclusive business practices when it comes to their membership policies.

The PGA is only one of a number of sponsors of the event, some of the others include, MLB, US Paralympics, RISE, US Olympic Committee, WNBA, NASCAR, Minor League Baseball and the USTA.

 

Yogi Berra : A Quotable Man

Yogi Berra was known as an incredible baseball player during his life, but as we have seen, he was also a gifted golfer. In addition to these incredible talents, Yogi also had the gift of gab and was known for his outgoing and warm personality. Yogi had a tendency to say the profound, the hilarious and the oblivious – a trait that often kept his adoring fans at attention and a veritable media darling. Though certain quotes became attributed to the talented baseball player over the years, he eventually addressed some of the myth versus the legend in a book that he published in 1998 called, “The Yogi Book : I Really Didn’t Say Everything I said”. Whether or not the following Quotes came directly from Yogi himself or if they just became associated with him is difficult to discern, but these are some of the best Yogi Berra quotes around. And many are expressions commonly used today!

The Loss of a Legend

Adrian Rubin Yogi BerraThis week we lost a legend. At the age of 90, baseball great, Yogi Berra died. Even those unfamiliar with the sport are usually aware of Berra’s contribution to the game as an incredible catcher with a larger than life personality. This Baseball Hall of Famer was such a character that it’s widely believed that he was the inspiration for the beloved children’s cartoon, Yogi Bear. Yogi Berra was legendary for both his skill and his personality. He played an incredible nineteen seasons in the Majors as member of the NY Yankees, (except for his final season). He holds an incredible record as an 18 time all star and played as a world series champion a remarkable ten times. As if these records weren’t enough to attest to Berra’s skill, he also won the League’s MVP award not once, not twice but three times. So it’s no surprise that he is considered one of the greatest catchers of all time.

An interesting fact about Yogi Berra, is that he was also an avid golfer. During his time as a major powerhouse in American baseball, there was much concern over the fact that Yogi spent so much time playing golf because many people believed that this would ruin his swing.

In spite of this dissent about his playing golf, Berra continued to play whenever he got the chance. Berra’s style of swinging the bat reflected his interest in golf. He was known for his ability to swing swing his bat as one would a golf club in order to hit lower pitches that hovered near the plate which often lead to  serious home runs. However, Berra also maintained the ability to chop at pitches for beautiful line drives. Looking back, on Berra’s plays, it’s clear that his golf swing enhanced his game – it didn’t detract from it.

Yogi Berra claimed that his reasoning for picking up and staying with the sport of golf was solely to stay healthy. However, his record was a 10-handicap, so he wasn’t a bad golfer at all. Although he claimed that this was purely a chance for physical activity, it’s clear that he must have enjoyed the game and certainly developed skills for the game. Berra was known for taking extended vacations at high end golf courses like Pinehurst, and continued playing the sport throughout his career as a baseball player and eventual manager.
Berra was a true American athlete and legend, and his presence will be missed.

The Hidden Dangers of Golf Carts

A company in Nashville has recently put a spin on your typical use for a go cart. The company known as, “Joyride” gives tours and rides to people around the city for free (plus tip for the driver). The company describes its service as a unique way to “meet new and interesting people” as the driver or the passenger. Additionally, the service

According to the company website, “All of our drivers are independent contractors who are required to carry an “F” for-hire, endorsement”. The site goes on to claim that each driver is, “personally trained for safety and company procedures.” However, the company recently lost face when one of the golf carts flipped. While there were no casualties associated with the accident, the passenger sustained injuries that left her with nerve damage, and a leg that is partially and permanently numb. While spokespeople for Joyride focused on the number of rides they give per year that have gone accident-free, this accident certainly highlights something very important…golf cart safety.

Golf carts are meant to be low speed and are not necessarily all terrain vehicles in the truest sentse of the word (depending on the make and model), so it is very easy for these vehicles to flip if the driver is going too fast or attempting terrain that’s not great for the vehicle. In light of this I thought it would be worth it to share a few safety tips about golf cart safety through the video below.

Sharing the Green With Your Child

Adrian Rubin GolfAlthough I have discussed the stigma often attached to golf as an “old man’s game”, it is important to realize the value that the sport has for players of all ages. Obviously professionals who dedicate their adolescence to training, see past (or at least have parents who see past) this misconception. Golf is a sport that all can benefit from whether they are learning their times tables in school or learning about capital gains tax from their retirement fund! Golf provides a physical outlet as well as a chance to exercise focus, discipline and meditation.

Golf is also a great game to share with your child. As is the case with any sport, kids may or may not like it at the beginning, but if you show them the value and the fun in it, they may change their minds. Once you know your youngster is onboard, you can approach teaching them about the game in a way that is beneficial for their development over time, but also interesting enough to hold their attention now.

  1. Let Them Play. This is important for children of all ages, but especially for younger kids. If you are too serious about the game and force them to go about learning in a very prescribed manner, it’s likely that the child will not enjoy him or herself. In the beginning, especially, it’s important that you allow room for play.
  2. Timing is Everything. Try taking your child to the course during off-times when it’s not too crowded. If you go at night during the week,it’s unlikely that you’ll face much in the way of competition so your child is free to take as much time he or she wants to play and explore. If you go at night, you’ll also have the advantage of tiring your little one out.
  3. Don’t Forget the Tools. Keep an eye on the equipment that your kids are using. Remember that their clubs will need to be shorter and lighter than an adult’s , and that even if the child uses junior equipment, it still may be too big. If the equipment is improperly sized, this can take a real toll on the child’s swing.
  4. Too Soon? As is the case in many sports, parents can often get overzealous when it comes to enrolling the child in lessons or on a team. With golf, I’d recommend that you wait until the child is five or six before teaching him or her the right way to swing and other fundamentals. Let your child play and explore with a plastic ball and bat beforehands.
  5. Be Nice. The quickest Way to ruin a child’s enjoyment of the game is too be too critical too soon. Speak in an encouraging way and try to refrain from being overly judgemental, instead, be positive. Along those lines, if you set up friendly competitions thatv involve rewards (think milkshake oer small toy), make sure you pay up immediately – no one likes delayed gratification…least of all, kids.

While there are many more tips on teaching kids the game, this is a great place to start. Good luck!

Another Hole in One for Netflix : The Short Game

The Short Game : Adrian RubinIt seems as though the meteoric rise of Netflix’s viewership is unstoppable. Over the past two years alone, Netflix has gone from a viewership of 37.55 million to 65.55 million! While this sort of unprecedented rise in subscription digital viewing speaks volumes about where the television model is going, it also speaks to a successful model. As of late, Netflix has gone from solely investing in licensing agreements with blockbusters and indie films alone, these past few years have relied heavily in building a brand name that stands not only for licensing interesting films, but Netflix has invested heavily in original programming and doesn’t seem to shy away from taking risks in terms of subject matter or the type of content that may seem (on the surface) to appeal to a smaller demographic to begin with. Netflix seems to be dominating the field of original programming when it comes to subscription/streaming services – comparable to Hulu, Amazon Video or Apple TV.

One of the most recent releases backed from Netflix is a compelling documentary on young golfers entitled, “The Short Game”. The film follows some of the best golfers in the world as they prepare for the Holy Grail of Tournaments, the “World Championships of Junior Golf”, which takes place at the hallowed ground of the Pinehurst Golf course in Pinehurst, North Carolina. They also happen to be 7-years old. See the trailer below.

On the outset it may seem a bit ludicrous – the idea of watching  a bunch of first and second-graders playing the notoriously “old man’s” game of golf. However, these kids have not only been playing golf, but living, breathing and thinking golf for nearly the whole of the seven years of their time on earth. These children take the game seriously – as do their parents, and the World Championships of Junior Golf are known to be the breeding ground for future heavyweights in the PGA.

There’s something incredible about witnessing these future pros at work as they train day in and day out in hopes of having this win be the first of many awards to come in their professional careers. This Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel-produced movie follows 8 subjects – from both the US and abroad. We see not only their daily routines as they prepare for the 2012 championships, but we also see the attachments that their parents have to their children’s identities as mini golf-pros.

While at times this stage-parent dynamic can be a bit uncomfortable to witness, the personalities and seeming balance that the children maintain allows you to slip into the film without being too worried. The kids truly steal the show and it’s amazing to watch them swing from the gravitas of the put-upon adulthood of a child prodigy, to the bold and unapologetic free-spiritedness of childhood.

Whether you love golf or not, I highly recommend that you check out this film.

Where Have All the Golfers Gone? :News from an Evolving Empire

adrian rubin golferAmerica is by far the largest market for golf and its associated side industries on a global scale. Estimates suggest that approximately half of the players and golf courses that exist today reside within the United States. In 2011, the sport contributed about $70 billion dollars to the american economy.

Golf means many things to many people, and in this country it often symbolizes a type of leisure afforded to those of the middle or upper classes – or a sport perfect for those coming into retirement. And not too long ago, expert analysts predicted that the sport would continue to expand – especially when considering the aging baby boomer population. However, as of 2013, various metrics used to take the temperature of the sport in our country painted a different picture. Recently, more people have stopped playing than those that have started.

Golf and Financial Markets: a Twin Losing Game

Additionally, the years following the economic recession of 2008 proved to be incredibly challenging for many owners of golf facilities. Although people like Donald Trump have revitalized the golf facility game recently, 2008-2014 witnessed a number of shutdowns of golf clubs and facilities owing to market conditions and a marked downturn in interest in the sport.

Not a Sellers’ Market

Although the professional version of golf remains robust and supported, it’s the absence of the leisure-golfer that those in the golf industry are most effected by. Vendors of golf clothing and equipment are really feeling the pressure. Dick’s Sporting Goods, underwent massive layoffs in their golf division in 2013, while Nike and Adidas watched their earnings decline in recreational golf.

Golf’s Popularity in China

Although recreational golf is facing a major downbeat in the US, there are notable markets expanding on an international scale. For example, although Mao Zedong outlawed golf in 1949 and banned constructing new private courses, golf is flourishing in China.

Continued Downturns Abroad

However, in many mature markets, like those found in Japan, England, Australia and even Scotland, golf is undergoing a sharp downturn. Since 2007, the number of people who play golf once a month has retracted by a full quarter. Since it’s peak in the ‘90s, Japanese participation has dropped over 40%, and in Australia, golf club memberships have fallen by a fifth since ‘98.

Although golf continues to grow in places like the Czech Republic and in Germany, these markets represent a fraction of the total size of the american market.

Why Now?

While it’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason for this continuous decline in the number of people participating in golf in markets where it was (even recently) growing, there are a few speculations. The first may be the pace of the game. While the meditative quality of the sport may provide a nice break from the frenzied pace of most people’s day to day lives, a 4 hour commitment to a slow paced game may not seem appealing. Another thought ist that for many years, the sport has garnered a sort of “old -boy’s “ reputation that is specific to older, wealthy, white men. This reputations may not appeal to people who do not fit that description because it may not seem accessible. And finally, there is the cost associate with playing golf. To play seriously one will undoubtedly have to make some type of financial commitment and as we are in the shadow of a recent economic downturn, looking at a market in correction, now may not be the time to commit to an expensive leisure time activity for those concerned with their financial stability.

 

Are Golf Carts Destroying the Sport?

Golf Cart Adrian RubinToday’s culture seems to have a constant push and pull between that of a completely sedentary lifestyle and an obsession with physical activity. Our days are jam packed with constant sitting – at work in front of a screen, in the car on your daily commute, and at home in front of the TV. This lack of movement is clearly leading to the obesity epidemic, but it’s also fueling a reaction to encourage movement. Which brings me to a central point about golf. Some people think of golf as a slow paced activity that doesn’t come close to working you out as hard as a great game of basketball or a vigorous bike ride. And with the pervasive “cart culture”, we are losing even more opportunities to exercise on the green.

Nowadays, many people look at golf as a passive leisure-time activity and are reluctant to even call it a sport.

Of course I disagree, when you consider the training, discipline and skill that goes into the game – cart or no cart. However, Allison Aubrey of NPR’s Morning Edition recently spent some time on a golf course – sligo Creek golf Course in Silver Spring  Maryland to find out how much exercise one actually gets when golfing. She spent time collecting information that quantifies just how much exercise golf provides for its participants both with and without the use of a golf cart.

According to the World Golf Foundation an 18 hole course can burn up to 2,000 calories and provide about 5 miles of walking for golfers who choose to forgo the use of a golf cart. According to this reporter’s own experience, she witnessed the effort it takes to carry one’s clubs, traverse the green, and the movement and focused intensity involved in actually playing the game. Well-executed swings involve the whole body and require a lot of power. Physically you are hinging and rotating the torso while generating an explosion with your muscles.

There’s no question that this is a physically demanding sport even if it may not have the same wow factor as a football game. However, it is worth noting that currently two thirds of the golf played in the US takes place on courses with golf carts. And while golfers who opt for these motorized modes of transportation are still getting exercise, it does cut back on the number of calories burned. While some argue the negative aspect of golf carts, there is something to be said for the fact that they enable elderly and injured people the chance to play a sport that they might not be able to otherwise.

So for the non-believers in the health benefits of playing golf,  hard data proves time and time again that golf is great for all with or without a cart.