Aside from the occasional recreational, yet strangely competitive mini-golf game, our family isn’t too familiar with a standard 18-hole golf course. So when we arrived at the Kaanapali Kai Golf Course in Lahaina, Maui over our vacation we were in store for something truly new to us. And, no it wasn’t tradition golf either, it was FootGolf, have you heard of it? Just like it may sound, in FootGolf each hole is assigned a “par” and players tee off using a soccer ball, strategically kicking it until they make it in the 21-inch cup. The holes run to the right of many of the standard golf holes and are cut into the rough to protect conditions of fairways and greens, and to avoid affecting everyday golfers. 9 or 18 hole FootGolf at Kaanapali Golf Course is available after 3pm seven days a week, at a reasonable family-friendly rate!
So three of the five of us are no strangers to soccer. My youngest daughter played for 3 years as did my son. My husband, who is generally good at anything sports-related, coached soccer for a year when my son played, leaving my oldest daughter and I excited, yet anxious. We’d never played soccer before but were ready to take one for the team on this fun family outing. We started out in the clubhouse, getting briefed on the game as well as receiving our scorecard. As soon as that mini pencil and card was in my hand, I knew it was game on! In my life, I’ve only done one sport and it was running track. Not the most competitive, but as I had my children and they did sports and danced competitively, I had a streak in me that was WIN or go home!
Downstairs from the clubhouse, we grabbed our soccer balls and jumped into two golf carts between us. I’ve also never been in a golf cart, nor have I driven one. My oldest has her license so she was thrilled to drive, and my son has friends that live on a golf course so he’s driven one also. It’s these little things that got everyone so thrilled even before we hit the fairway! We soon found out how spread apart the holes are from eachother and why you really do need a cart to rent during your game.
Did I mention that we were in Maui? It’s already perfect weather, and just after 3pm, it wasn’t too hot. Starting at the first tee, you line your ball up with orange stones. You’re aiming for the orange flag on the green, that’s where you’ll find the cup. We played 9 holes and the first tee was a par 4, meaning you have four kicks to make the ball in the cup to be average, less is better, more is not so good. We figured it would take us a hole or two just to get used to this. Now you need a little running start to get your kick off. Aiming, direction, foot placement are all things to consider if you know what you’re doing. My oldest and I, well we did our best between screeches of OUCH and massaging our poor toes through our shoes, which we learned quickly meant we were doing it wrong. We figured out as we went along.
Even with our cart, there is a lot of walking to be done just getting from the tee to the ball, to the next kick’s destination, to the cup. Getting into the cart was our way of resting. But boy were the sights just purely beautiful thanks to the island’s landscape.
Banyan, palm, Ponciana, and pine trees dotted our path, mauka (mountain) and makai (towards ocean) views were phenomenal. Uphill, downhill, over the highway bridge, the cart took us safely about the course.
Just like in real golf, the ball can sit right at the cup and just not go in!
Before we knew it, two hours had passed, the sun was heading towards Lanai and we were tired! My oldest gets a bit dramatic…
The day was so fun, my husband won by a landslide followed by our son. There were a few holes that the girls lost count on the kicks and entered 10 by default. We seriously considered going back another day to try it again, but ran out of time on the island amongst our other activities. We would do this again in heartbeat though, it was exciting, we got some serious exercise and it’s a unique activity that the whole family enjoyed!
The game is available at Kaanapali Kai Golf Course year-round, $15/person to walk and an additional $15 to ride a shared golf cart. You can bring your own soccer ball or rent one for $5 per round. I’d allocate about 2-3 hours for 9 holes for five people. For more information, visit http://www.kaanapaligolfcourses.com/ or to find a FootGolf course near you visit http://www.afgl.us/courses.html/.
Our experience was hosted in exchange for this review, all opinions are 100% our own.