FOOTGOLF’S ever increasing popularity is spreading to south-east Essex.
Close to 40 courses for the sport, which combines football and golf, have been created in the last 12 months.
And Herongate’s South Essex Golf Centre is the latest to have taken it on board, much to the delight of Footgolf’s UK operations managing director Mike O’Connor.
“There’s been a huge boom for footgolf in the last year and it’s great to have brought it to Essex” said O’Connor, “This time last year there were about five courses and we will be at 50 by the end of the year.
“It’s proving to be incredibly because and I think it’s because football and golf are probably the two most popular sports in the UK.
“Putting them together ticks so many boxes and so many people are now enjoying playing it.”
Footgolf sees players kicking a football on around a normal golf course, trying to make it into a far bigger hole in as few shots as possible.
The sport is being played all around the world, with the United States of America leading the way with more than 130 courses.
But the UK are now ranked second and O’Connor feels a number of factors have made footgolf so popular.
“It’s a great way to learn techniques with a football without having to charge around after one,” said O’Connor.
“If you not physically fit or if you’re slightly injured you can still play and people of all ages are getting involved.
“Golf clubs are also finding it’s a way for them to bring in extra revenue but it’s obviously not for everyone.
“Some clubs have even rung us and told them not to even ask them to involved, which amazes me to be honest.
“But more and more courses are springing up all the time and the one in Herongate is already doing well too.”
Former Southend United, Billericay Town and Canvey Island footballer Danny Kerrigan has been chosen as Essex’s Development Officer for the sport and anyone wishing to play at Herongate can do so from 12.30pm onwards every Sunday.
Midweek bookings can also be made in advance for the 18 hole course with the holes ranging from 77 to 258 yards long.
"I think it’s really good for someone who wants to get out and get a bit of exercise with more excitement than just walking. Nine times out of 10 people like football and it’s another way of keeping interested in it.
If I played it again now I know I would take it more seriously and think about the angles more. I really do think it could be a bug that bites you."
" I liked it because it wasn’t like a round of golf which takes four hours. We finished in an hour and 40 minutes so the whole day isn’t wasted and your wife won’t be on your back when you get home.
It was a decent bit of exercise and I would definitely play it again."
"I have to admit to being a bit apprehensive about playing alongside a former England international and someone who was voted Southend United’s player of the Millennium.
"But despite them being much better footballers than me, I didn’t lose by that many shots and was still able to enjoy the experience. I think that’s a good reason why this could catch on and I would love to come and play it again."
WHO CAME OUT ON TOP?
1. Steve Tilson 69, 2. Peter Taylor 73, 3. Chris Phillips 75