Rarely have two separate Star Tribune stories been so complementary, so made for each other, so “Ole and Lena.” First, the city of Edina has an underused municipal golf course called “the Fred” that it wants to close but can’t decide what to do with it (“Edina says no to horse center at ‘The Fred,’ ” July 3). Second, the soccer-golf hybrid called “footgolf” is quickly becoming so popular we can’t build new courses fast enough (“Golf with a kick,” July 24).
Still not clear? How about this: The footgolf courses being opened are mostly in the outer suburbs, far from population centers. There are only two courses inside the 494/694 loop.
Do we have a winner? Can the Edina City Council possibly get its golf-course peanut butter together with the footgolf chocolate?
There’s talk of turning the Fred into a park. Nice, but what’s there to do in a park? In this age of constant Facebook checking, tweeting and playing a cellphone game with even just 60 seconds of free time, strolling aimlessly through a former golf course just won’t do. Give visitors old and young a fun activity that will make them forget their lumbago and the agony of failing at level 33 on Candy Crush for, like, the zillionth time.
Traditional golf is a frustrating exercise of trying to hit a tiny ball with a tiny metal stick in order to propel it toward a tiny hole that sits about four football fields away from where you begin. Sound like fun? Would it be more fun if you got to haul around a 20-pound bag of assorted sticks and repeat this same exercise in futility for at least eight more holes?
How about if we make you do all of this with three other people watching your every embarrassing move and, if you play golf like me, dodging for cover when your shot goes horribly astray? If you’re still not enjoying yourself, let’s put ball-eating “sand traps” and “water hazards” in your way, and throw in trees and bushes that reposition themselves when your back is turned to line up perfectly between your ball and the hole.
If you’ve never been on a golf course for anything other than a few fruitless swipes at the tiny ball, you’re missing out. Golf courses are some of the most extensive and beautiful pockets of nature anywhere. No asphalt or concrete. Just blue sky and green grass as far as the eye can see. Who among us can appreciate the depth of all this beauty when we put our $3 ball on the tee, give a mighty swing and look expectantly down the fairway — only to see the ball roll to a stop just 17 feet away, mocking us? (For the record, the 50-cent cent ball ends up in the same spot but doesn’t have the mocking feature.)
But take away the impossible task of hitting the tiny ball and you have something! If a big oak tree isn’t reaching out to smack down your one and only soaring tee shot of the day, it becomes a thing of beauty, minding its own business and swaying serenely atop a nearby hill. The depraved, ball-swallowing water hazard becomes the calming pond around the bend, home to a family of ducks and a gentle frog or two.
There’s a rumor that the Dalai Lama swore at a pink butterfly when he muffed his tee shot on the back nine at Pebble Beach. Who are we to do any better? Put away the tiny clubs and your anger, get out a big soft ball and give it a kick down the fairway. How hard is that?
Enjoy the birds and the breeze and let’s all play footgolf at the Fred.
Jay Sorlien lives in Edina.