Footgolf at the ‘Muni’ isn’t worth throwing a fit over

Just so we get this straight, the people of Butte seem to have no problem with the impending natural disaster that will come when the Berkeley Pit overflows in the next few years.

But we get up in arms because the Highland View Golf Course introduced Footgolf on the Par 3? Yep, that’s about par for the course.

Believe me, footgolf is nothing new at Highland View. Or the Butte Country Club for that matter.

The first time I saw footgolf at the “Muni” was probably 1985 when I played the first of about 1,000 rounds of golf with my buddy Justin.

We were walking down the middle of hole No. 7 when we approached Justin’s ball after a drive that wasn’t particularly long. I stopped to wait for him to hit when, while looking straight forward as if to say “nothing to see here,” he kicked his ball about 10 yards forward.

I didn’t say anything because I had just met Justin, and I was hesitant to call him out on a severe breach of etiquette. Then, he did it again.

“Hey,” I said after his second boot. “You kicked your ball. Twice.”

“No I didn’t,” Justin replied with the sternness of a president denying sexual relations with an intern. Then he calmly hit his fairway shot and moved on.

I was baffled by the boldness, but I didn’t push the issue any further because we weren’t playing for money. Also, when you’re an 11-year-old golfer, it is usually best not to do anything to invite a strict audit of your scorecard.

You don’t want that 5 on the second hole to be recounted, if you know what I mean.

Before we got to the green on No. 7 that day, I came to the realization that kicking balls on the golf course was basically a victimless crime so long as it did not happen in a tournament and no skins were on the line.

That is true today as the same golf course introduces footgolf in an effort to get more use of the Par 3 course, give kids something to do and, perhaps, make a few more bucks.

This version of footgolf is a little different than the one played by my friend Justin back in the day. Footgolf is an option for people to kick balls on the golf course completely free from guilt, although I’m not sure guilt ever slowed Justin down.

You kick a soccer ball around the course, aiming at holes 21 inches in diameter that are positioned near the green, but far enough away not to be bothersome, on each hole.

The game is scored just like golf. Or you can play like my 5-year-old daughter and have a race to the hole and then throw a fit if your brother and/or sister get there first.

You can bring your own soccer ball or you can borrow one from the course for free.

Many members are welcoming this new activity about as well as my daughter accepts second place on her race to the pin, and she flops on the ground and kicks and screams.

Footgolf is the latest major controversy at the Highland View Golf Course, which seems to have at least one major fight per summer.

I had to see what this battle was all about, so I took the kids out for a round of footgolf. I was skeptical at first, but I’ve got to say footgolf might be the greatest new thing for golf since the Big Bertha.

If I tell you there was a way to play an irritation-free round of golf with your 5-year-old daughter will you believe me?

Well, Footgolf has made the impossible happen. You can play golf while your children kick a soccer ball around and leave you alone. They’ll even beg you to go another nine holes.

Along the way, they just might learn to appreciate the game of golf before they are old enough to join the junior golf tour.

I used to live at the Muni, but I gave up golf in 2003 when my first child was born. It’s hard to justify the time away from the kids, and, frankly, kids are a pain in the butt to play golf with until they turn at least 12.

Had Footgolf been around 10 years ago, I’d still be a golfer, and the wife wouldn’t get on my case about all the time spent on the course because I’d have the kids with me.

The only problem I see now with Footgolf is that it is only on the Par 3 course. They could use it on the regulation course, too. That way a guy could work on dropping his official USGA handicap while his kids get some exercise.

There is absolutely no way Footgolf will interfere with a round of actual golf, and it means more people will get to use the large space set aside as a city park.

Also, footgolfers will generally get around the course faster than golfers, so they won’t slow up play. That means you will still be home in plenty of time to tell your neighborhood kids to stay off your lawn.

Golfers won’t slow footgolfers, either, because the holes are located far enough away from the greens for the kids to easily play through a slow group.

Word is that the original outrage on the addition of soccer balls to the golf course is starting to calm down. But it is still a wedge issue for many. (Like what I did there?)

That isn’t surprising because the Muni has always been the griping capital of Silver Bow County. That is probably still the case now that we live in the instant-complaint world of social media. People expect fast results from even the most minor issues.

If someone hits into your group on hole No. 3, the standard practice now is to pull your phone and tag the chief executive to demand action.

The other day a person actually went to Facebook to post a picture of the county truck that allegedly cut off his wife in traffic. One of his “friends” tagged Matt Vincent in the discussion as if he was the town’s principal instead of the chief executive.

Whether it’s a county employee cutting you off, a soccer ball rolling on the golf course or a playing partner using his foot wedge to add yardage to his drive, really, it’s all the same.

As long as it isn’t costing you money, it’s not worth worrying about.

The Berkeley Pit, on the other hand, well, that’s a whole other story.

— Bill Foley, who has never publicly acknowledge using a foot wedge, writes a column that appears on ButteSports.com on Tuesdays. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74.

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