Golf courses around the Minot area are in the midst of preparations for the new season as the months are torn off the calendar, ensuring the grass is in good shape to welcome the droves of golfers back to the courses as summer approaches.
One course in particular, Apple Gove Golf Course, will bring back a new twist that debuted midway through last summer for its first full season at the course: foot golf.
The sport is held on the same course at the same time as the regular golfers during the day, except, as the name suggests, it is played with soccer balls patrons kick down the course.
Oversized holes have already been installed throughout the course to accommodate the balls’ size, and course president Don Aasen configured the positioning of the new holes in such a way that he was able to double the length of the course from nine to 18 holes for foot golf without needing to physically expand the course itself.
Each of the nine regular golf holes contain two foot golf holes, most of them par-3 holes with a trio of par-4s sprinkled in.
The idea dawned on Aasen during the wintertime while he was visiting a family member in Arizona.
“We were seeing some courses that had it, and I was mentioning it to my siblings, it’s my four sisters and brother and I who own the course, and we started looking into it,” Aasen recalled.
After conducting deeper research into the idea, he discovered that there was only one course in North Dakota that offered the service, Mandan Municipal Golf Course. The course boasts “First accredited foot golf course in North Dakota!” on its website’s homepage.
Aasen and his siblings paid the course a visit early last spring, and the staff members told him it had been a big hit since they brought it to Mandan. They rarely have issues putting it on at the same time as those on the course golfing, save for a few patrons who are more particular about what goes on around them on the course.
“There haven’t been any problems,” he said. “It’s fun because you’ll see so many people with their kids come out and do it, and they have a great time.”
Once Aasen brought the activity to his own course last July, he admitted it took a little while to fully catch on with the community in the Magic City. The Apple Grove staff benefitted from portions of the city involved in various soccer programs held throughout Minot, and once the word was out, foot golf began to grow.
“It’s probably tripled from the beginning,” he said of the activity’s current interest level from his guests. “It’s just one of those things where it gives more for the people to do. Not everybody likes golf, and some of the golfers like both, so it works out well.”
Those who are interested in trying their hand, or more appropriately, foot, at the activity can schedule tee times similar to normal golf. Even though golf and foot golf co-exist on the same course, Aasen noted that pacing of foot golf and the nature of the activity helps it move along the course with more haste than normal golf, eliminating many of the potential issues that may naturally arise with two activities on one playing surface.
To play the entire 18-hole foot golf course, patrons must pay an $11 fee, and a ball-rental is an extra $3 charge if guests do not have one of their own. For those who are not satisfied with a single round, a second round can be played for a discounted $5 fee. Guests can reserve tee times similarly to normal golf in 15-minute increments from 10 a.m. until 6:45 p.m. seven days per week.
“They loved it,” Aasen said of the initial community reaction to the new activity. “Not only is it something different for people who are not into golf, but there are a lot of soccer teams, and a lot of those people were really interested, because it gives them something different to practice. It’s really picking up.”
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