New Paltz Golf Course owners cut the ribbon to its new location on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, on Saturday, Nov. 8. The owners dedicated it to a fallen U.S. Soldier of Highland, Michael Oremus, who died while serving in Iraq in 2006 and was a soccer player at Highland High School.
Owners of the New Paltz Golf Course, PGA golf professionals Larry Furey and Tom O’Brien, have added the new up-and-coming sport FootGolf to their new location on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. This is the first FootGolf Course in New York State and one of only 300 in the country.
FootGolf combines aspects of golf and soccer together to create one game. This game is played on a golf course using a soccer ball, which is kicked into a 21-inch hole.
Like golf, players count the amount of times it takes until the ball gets into the hole. The goal is to have the least amount of kicks by the end of the game.
In FootGolf the soccer ball travels a shorter distance compared to golf. According to Furey and O’Brien, FootGolf is an easier game to learn and all ages are capable of playing this sport.
Originally from Europe, FootGolf has started to make its way to America, according to O’Brien.
This all began locally when the new organization Hudson Valley FootGolf contacted Fury and O’Brien and asked if they were interested in incorporating the sport.
“We knew about it from previous years and we jumped on right away,” O’Brien said. “We thought it would be a good thing for golf because there are a lot of soccer players out there and we want to attract them to the course.”
Golf has been on the decline in recent years, while soccer has become increasingly popular, he said. They hope that people will enjoy FootGolf and then try golf afterwards.
The new FootGolf course will be located on the Rail Trail Course, next to the golf course and situated near the rail trail.
When the New Paltz Golf Course is unavailable, the Rail Trail Course can act as an alternate. Both Furey and O’Brien wanted to be able to offer FootGolf seven days a week and the Rail Trail Course allows it to be accessible everyday.
The River Course, a FootGolf course and a regulation golf course, will be open in the spring on a limited basis. On the River Course FootGolf players are able to play alongside golf players.
“At first people did not know how to play but by the end of the game the people were competitive,” he said.
O’Brien said FootGolf is easy to learn and all types of people participate.
“We have had a French ex-soccer player, to my five-year-old grandson play,” he said. “Both women and men play, skilled athletes and the average person. It’s fun for everyone and great for families. It’s competitive but also recreational.”