Shoegolf is a game similar to traditional golf except that, instead of playing with golf equipment, the players launch shoes into the air by kicking. The object of the game is to hit a series of “holes,” (i.e., objects such as tree trunks or any handy ground structure) in as few kicks as possible.
The game is believed to have been invented by a student at the Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire in 1968. The student, Frederic Shaw, began playing golf with friends on the Swasey Parkway in Exeter by kicking shoes and using tree trunks along the parkway as holes. For many years, shoegolf remained an obscure sport. In recent years, however, the sport has begun to catch on among college students, and at least one web site on shoe golf now exists on the Internet.
Shoegolf’s rules are loose and adaptable to the players. As played in the Shaw family since the 1960s, the players assemble on a lawn, beach, parking lot, or any open area. Unlike traditional golf, where players are usually grouped into parties of 2-5 people, the number of players in a shoe golf party is limited only by the available space. Some shoegolf games in the Shaw family have consisted of as many as 30 players.
The only equipment needed for shoegolf is a shoe. The shoe can be any kind of footwear, although most players use rough heavy shoes that will not suffer from the trauma of being kicked about repeatedly. The shoe must be a natural one and it is considered to be a violation of shoegolf rules to weight the shoe.
To begin, the players assemble on an agreed-upon line that constitutes the tee box. The players mutually agree on an object that will serve as the first hole, which may be a tree trunk, wooden post, lamp post, lawn object, or almost any structure within a reasonable distance, usually 25-100 yards away. The hole must be described in enough detail so that all players can identify it; i.e., “the aluminum lamp post over there next to the yellow car,” or “the cornerstone of the brick building over there, beneath the green window.” Then each player launches a shoe by hooking the end of the foot in the shoe and releasing it into the air using a high kick.
After all players have teed off, the game proceeds like traditional golf. To play each kick, the player puts a foot into the shoe and kicks it toward the hole. The shoe may not be advanced in the direction of the hole except during the kick. This means, for example, that a player who plans to kick with the right foot may place his or her left foot as far forward as possible in front of the position of the shoe, but the player may not advance the position of the shoe with the right foot except during the kick itself.
The winner of each hole identifies the object that will be used as the next hole. In contrast to traditional golf, in shoegolf there is no set number of holes on the course. The number of holes may be pre-determined by mutual agreement of the party, or the players may simply decide to quit when they are tired. The player who has the lowest number of kicks (strokes) at the time the game ends is the winner.
Shoegolf has several advantages over traditional golf. First, the only equipment needed is one shoe. Second, no designated course is needed; the game can be played in any open area, rural or urban. Third, any number of players can play together simultaneously.
The only dangers inherent in shoe golf are hamstring or muscle pull injuries in the legs, broken glass when the occasional errant shoe passes through a closed window, and the occasional lost shoe.
"Time for shoegolf!"