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West Orange Times & Observer Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018 2 months ago

Obstacle FootGolf offers family-friendly mash-up of mini golf, soccer

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Steve Crane's Obstacle FootGolf opened in Winter Garden in June, on property owned by Oasis Church along Avalon Road.
by: Steven Ryzewski Senior Sports Editor

For the past few years, Winter Garden resident Steve Crane has been working to grow interest in footgolf — a game that is popular in Europe that he believes has tremendous potential in the United States.

The game itself is, quite literally, golf with a soccer ball. 

One of the reasons Crane sees room for growth for footgolf is the number of golf courses in Central Florida and beyond that are struggling to be profitable in recent years. Crane believes some of these courses can help inch back toward the black by offering footgolf during slow times. It also can serve as a way to enjoy a golf course, even if one isn’t particularly good at golf.

He has had some success in that regard but also has recognized the game — as regularly constituted on a normal golf course — can be a bit of a tall task for families with younger children.

Enter Obstacle FootGolf.

“It’s putt-putt with a soccer ball,” Crane said with a smile at his recently opened course in Winter Garden. “(Regular footgolf is) a long course, and it’s more difficult for the kids to play. The idea behind this is … it’s so much easier for the kids and families. It doesn’t take half as much time and the obstacles make it fun.”

Crane’s Obstacle FootGolf course sits on an open field adjacent to — and owned by — Oasis Church on Avalon Road. Crane had previously partnered with the church to host soccer games for a league he runs. 

The church was receptive to partnering with Crane again on this project, and now the open space is home to a course with hills, tires and log that create holes with names such as “Tire Trouble,” “Sherwood Forest” and “Krakatoa.” The holes were designed by Crane and his wife, based on some of the courses they had seen during their travels in Europe, where the game is more popular.

“We tried to take some of the best components from things that we’ve seen and add our own ideas to them,” Crane said. “Each hole is different, and we’re very proud of the way it has turned out.”

Obstacle FootGolf opened in June and has had several events and camps since then. Crane said the reception has been strong, with kids and adults alike enjoying a unique twist on the miniature golf concept.

“The reaction has been really, really good,” Crane said. “Everybody who has come out here has enjoyed themselves.”

Among the local youth who have taken to the footgolf links is Amy Crane, Steve Crane’s daughter.

Like her dad, Amy has a love for soccer and golf, so she sees the game as a natural fit. She said obstacles make it harder — but more fun — and particularly likes “Krakatoa,” the hole shaped like a volcano. 

She even has some advice for would-be players for handling the the uphill battle of that particular hole.

“It’s easier if you put the ball under your shoe and roll it up the hill,” Amy Crane said.

In recent years, Steve Crane has been crowned a world champion in the regular version of footgolf and placed in the top three at tournaments this year in Hungary, Austria and Turkey. 

As excited as he gets for traveling the world and competing in the game, he seems equally enthusiastic about sharing this family-friendly variation in West Orange. The course is available for use and rental for parties and corporate events, and he said he can happily accommodate most tee-time requests. Anyone interested in giving it a try can attain more information at ObstacleFootGolf.com.

He said Obstacle FootGolf is still in a “feeling out” period as he tries to hone the business model and partner with the church. However, he is encouraged by what has transpired so far.

“My fingers are crossed that we get more and more interest,” Crane said.

Steven Ryzewski is the Senior Sports Editor for ObserverPreps.com, as well as all three of Observer Media Group's print publications in Orange County. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida....

See All Articles by Steven

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