Soccer-mad Argentina has hosted a novel tournament that featured plenty of footballs but no goals as such: the second-ever FootGolf World Cup. Instead of dribbling, tackling and sliding around getting muddy, FootGolf players boot the football large distances into a hole 53 centimeters (20 inches) wide, in as few kicks as possible. Spectators follow the players around each of the 18 holes over a course complete with flags, slopes and bunkers. Keeping to the golfer-like dress code, they wear harlequin-patterned socks and pristine white shorts and caps.
Said to have been invented in the Netherlands in 2009, the sport has spread worldwide. Players from Australia, Britain, Ireland and the United States joined their Argentine hosts in the tournament in Pilar, a posh suburb of Buenos Aires, that wrapped up at the weekend. The first FootGolf World Cup was held in Hungary in 2012, with 77 players from eight countries. This year, turnout multiplied with 230 players from 26 countries.
“It far surpassed our expectations,” said organizer Javier De Ancizar, head of the Argentine FootGolf Association. “This was the first tournament we have played with spectator stands, and they were full.” Argentine Christian Otero was crowned world FootGolf champion on Sunday after topping the players’ table. “I had to win. I felt a lot of pressure and I am very happy,” Otero said.
“This sport is incredible. There aren’t many sports that have such a lovely setting,” he said, speaking near the green expanse of the upmarket Golf Pilar Club. A good FootGolf player, he said, “has to have a strong mind, a good touch and cool-headedness, because in this game, you make a lot of mistakes and the important thing is to get back into it quickly.”