If you’re just an occasional golfer whose game needs a lot of work and therefore you don’t spend much time at it, add the new game of “hack golf” to your this summer repertoire of fun things to do and I guarantee you’ll enjoy both it and the traditional game more, and you’ll probably get better at both as well.
Hack golf joins “foot golf” to help add a bit of pop to the traditional game, and especially interest more youths into a sport that’s seeing a lot of gray-haired-only players these days.
Hack golf is played from shorter tee boxes on a traditional course, and with larger holes on greens. One of the first to adopt both sports in Michigan is Bellaire’s Shanty Creek Resort.
We tried an introductory round on a recent weekday along with an intro to “foot golf,” that has debuted at Shanty and several other courses around the state this year.
The main goal of introducing both is to make the sport appeal to more youngsters, familes and never-evers who may be alternately turned-off by the time it takes to play, turned off by the cost, or turned off by the difficulty.
Hack golf is played on a regular course with regular clubs, only from closer to the green. Special tee boxes have been created on Shanty’s Summit course. Players hit from there to sink their puts into special 15-inch holes, huge by regulation golf standards.
It makes the sport not only psychologically easier to play—one feels there’s much less risk of shanking or slicing a ball into the woods, the next fairway over, or into a grove of poison ivy, for example--and much more relaxed, friendly as well, agreed Brian Kautz, PGA pro and director of golf at Shanty Creek Resort, who brought both games to Shanty this summer.
We began midway on the course and noted that each tee seemed to be from 95 to 150 yards from the hole. Each hole was set on a traditional green, with a different colored flag to help differentiate it from the traditional hole.
It may have been just me, but it seemed very easy, definitely less intimidating and pressure-free to loft my ball towards the larger hack golf hole. I like the traditional game but don’t like the feel of always being rushed by those playing behind me, resulting in rushed and botched shots from tee to green. Maybe that’s why I prefer fishing instead. But I felt none of the pressure I usually put myself under while playing traditional golf. This game, however, I could get used to having fun at very quickly, the key word here being "fun."
Foot golf is played with a soccer ball, teed up at yet another tee box. Take your best shot with your best foot forward, and launch it to a green near the traditional green. It’s then your goal to sink the ball into a wide-as-a-pie-pan hole. It’s also a fun, extremely relaxed way to get introduced to the game of traditional golf, Kautz emphasized.
Try both this summer at Shanty Creek, and I almost guarantee you'll come off the course feeling differently about re-visiting the course soon. Almost makes me want to put aside my fly rod. Well, almost.