Soccer-style Golf Course Opens At Turtle Bay Resort

Garrett Hugo attempts a chip shot at Turtle Bay's new FootGolf course as Travis Berding, golf operations manager, looks on. Photo by Travis Joerger.

Garrett Hugo attempts a chip shot at Turtle Bay’s new FootGolf course as Travis Berding, golf operations manager, looks on. Photo by Travis Joerger.

After 400 years of torment, golfers finally are getting a chance to kick the habit.

On Feb. 28, Turtle Bay Resort opened its new FootGolf course to the public. FootGolf, a hybrid of golf and soccer, was designed to introduce more people to golf, while sharing the frustration familiar to anyone who has played the centuries-old sport.

FootGolf is like golf, but different.

The golf ball is replaced with a regulation soccer ball, which is kicked from the regular tee box to cups placed along the fairway. You keep score the same way, use the same playing rules, record penalties (if you’re honest) and, most important, purchase drinks at Lei Lei’s after every hole-in-one.

The major differences are the ball, the size of the cups — 21 inches in diameter — and the outfits. According to American FootGolf League (AFL), appropriate game wear is knee-high argyle socks, golf shorts, a polo shirt and a flat golf cap. Such clothing only is mandated for AFL-sanctioned events, and local rules do apply. Travis Joerger, director of golf at Turtle Bay, promises a much more relaxed dress code.

“We are not going to enforce that rule,” said Joerger with a laugh.

The course was laid out over a five-day period by its playing and maintenance staff, with input from the AFL. Construction came in a blink after a yearlong planning process.

“Once we got the cups in the mail, we designed and marked the course, identified where we were going to put the holes, and the crew just had to put them in and we were good to go,” Joerger said.

The new 18-hole course plays to a par 67 and is along the front nine holes of the George Fazio-designed golf course.

Green fees are $15, ball rental is $5 and a cart will cost you $10 per player.

“We anticipate there will be a good number of people who will want to walk the course,” Joerger said, “but we do have carts available for those who want to use them.”

As of yet, there is no FootGolf professional on staff, so playing lessons currently are restricted to regular golf and FootGolf playing tips on the resort’s website. Joerger and PGA teaching professional Anthony Valverde are long-time soccer players, so they might be able to help.

To celebrate its new venture, the resort is holding a free hole-in-one contest through March 13. Score an ace on a par 3 and win a $100 golf shop credit; miss and get a two-for-one coupon. During the introductory period, kids play free with a paying adult, plus a practice hole will be available during Hawaii Junior Golf Day activities March 21.

For information or tee times, call 293-8574.