Courses turn to footgolf to raise revenue

My A1 feature about footgolf, a new sport designed to bring younger players and more revenue to golf courses, was picked up by the A.P. Here’s the story (with great photo from Ernst Peters):

ZACK SHRIVER KICKS A BALL off the tee box while playing footgolf at the largo golf course on Wednesday. the sport, which is akin to golf but played with soccer balls, has brought in a new demographic and more revenue. (Ernst Peters)

ZACK SHRIVER KICKS A BALL off the tee box while playing footgolf at the largo golf course on Wednesday. the sport, which is akin to golf but played with soccer balls, has brought in a new demographic and more revenue. (Ernst Peters/The Ledger)

WINTER HAVEN | Zack Shriver looked out of place.

In a land of bland polos and tan khakis, the 21-year-old sported a red, white and blue jersey and a tattoo sleeve.

He jogged up to his tee in shorts. The noon sun glinted off the grass at Largo Golf Course, but it looked dim compared with Shriver’s neon cleats.

A Budweiser perspired in his right hand as he readied for his first shot. Shriver stepped back, placed the beer on the ground, and then:

BOOM!

A beauty.

He kicked his ball straight down the fairway.

Shriver and his two buddies, Hunter Maricle and Danny George, are soccer players. Shriver plays for Louisberg College in North Carolina, George plays at Florida Gulf Coast University, and Maricle played the last three seasons at Virginia Tech.

The three headed out to the Largo course at about noon Wednesday, at a time when the course would have been empty, said Jason Wilson, the course’s golf supervisor. The three brought their own soccer balls.

In October, Largo began offering a new sport, footgolf, at its city golf course. Footgolf has brought in a new demographic as well as a new revenue stream.

The sport is coming to Polk County and Winter Haven’s Willowbrook Golf Course in August.

“Right now we are the only course in Tampa Bay offering this, but soon we won’t be,” Wilson said. “And that’s almost a good thing, to help the sport grow.”

When asked if he was sure other courses were going to begin offering the sport soon, he said he didn’t have any proof but had a hunch.

“It would be foolish not to,” he said.

The rest of this article can be found here as it appeared on page A1 of The Ledger.

World Record Holder Scoops His Way to 2nd Ice Cream Eating Title

Champion eater Joey Chesnut , right shovels in some ice cream during the second annual ice cream eating contest at the Sun 'n Fun site in Lakeland, Fl. (Ernst Peters/The Ledger)

Champion eater Joey Chesnut , right shovels in some ice cream during the second annual ice cream eating contest at the Sun ‘n Fun site in Lakeland, Fl. (Ernst Peters/The Ledger)

LAKELAND | The brain freeze set in early, but Joey Chestnut persevered.

Scoop, swallow, sip, repeat.

Chestnut ate more than 1.8 gallons of ice cream in six minutes Saturday.

Chestnut broke his own world record at the second annual Florida Ice Cream Festival at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport. Hundreds watched in amazement at the man who in the past year has eaten 121 Twinkies in six minutes, 141 hard-boiled eggs in eight minutes and, most famously, 69 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes.

“The second container was when (the brain freeze) started,” Chestnut said. “You forget about it; there’s other pains. That’s what we do —we ignore feelings.”

The rest of this article can be found here as it appeared on page A1 of The Ledger.