Friday, November 07, 2008

Soccer Golf

Not quite an Every Whatever, but a game / competition in the same silly vein. Myself and 2 co-workers set out yesterday on a round of soccer golf. I didn't think that we invented the sport, and I see now that there are several instances - (reference Dan's first law of the Internet).

But the game we played is slightly different. First, here are the codified rules:

1. Game starts when each player kicks a soccer ball from the same "tee"
2. Game ends when each player kicks the ball into a pre-determined "goal", which can be set up in any manner that is agreed to by all participants.
3. Players are allowed to take any route they choose.
4. Each time a player touches the soccer ball with their foot, it is counted as 1 stroke. Players are not allowed to throw, head, or otherwise propel the ball besides kicking it. No outside transportation (kicking it into your truck, etc) or help from other people is allowed, except as detailed below.
5. No mulligans are allowed.
6. Players are allowed to, at their discretion, either allow the ball to come to a complete stop, stop the ball manually with their foot (counts as a stroke), or kick the ball again while it is rolling (also counts as a stroke). Players are advised to be aware of potential obstacles in the path of a kicked ball (cars, houses, trees, other people, etc) - all objects are in play.
7. If a ball should have to be extricated from an unplayable position (lake, in a tree, under a car, etc), there is a 5 stroke penalty, and the ball is placed where it entered the unplayable position. If that is on a hill or otherwise causes the ball to move once it is placed, the ball may be allowed to come to rest or kicked while in motion (counts as a stroke).
8. Touching the ball with your hands or any other part of your body (besides the foot) is a 1 stroke penalty. Should the non-foot touch be ruled by the other players to have been intentional, a 5 stroke penalty will be assessed.
9. If an outside participant touches or affects the ball, it is in play (see Rule 6). However, if in the opinions of the other players, an outside person is a "plant" or unfairly aids the player, the ball will be considered dead at the point of the outside person touching it.
10. If a player touches something that inadvertently affects the ball (e.g. the ball is laying in some tall grass on a hill and as the player walks near the ball, it causes the grass to shift and the ball to roll), no stroke will be assessed unless in the opinions of the other players it was egregious and intentional, in which case it will count as 1 stroke.

In our case, we set the course as from Randy's house to our work (about 0.95 miles as the crow flies, or about 1.5 miles with the route we played). Here is an approximation of the route. The colored circles denote interesting events which I will explain below:

We started down at the A marker. First few kicks were pretty easy as the road slopes in the direction we wanted to travel. Randy was able to kick it all the way down his street and around the corner on his "tee shot". Clearly that's because he was cheatingly practicing beforehand. At the orange circle a few things happened. First of all Doug kicked his ball into a parked Mustang whose owner was out mowing his grass. Then a lady walking her baby in a stroller stopped to talk to us and look how weird we were looking. Then Doug kicked his ball right into a tree, causing it to bounce backwards. This caused our spectactors / folks who drove us to the starting line (Molly and Elizabeth) much amusement and caused me to fall to the ground laughing. Then as Randy's ball was rolling down the street, a "helpful" man in a truck got out and stopped the ball as Randy yelled "No no no leave it"

I was in the lead as we made our way out of Randy's development towards the pinkish circle, 1 stroke ahead of Randy and 3 ahead of Doug. This was aided by a beautiful kick over a ditch that Doug and Randy got caught in. We made our way across an open field and towards a small (10-15 foot wide) covering of trees that separated us from the access road that would take us to Innovation Way. We all tried to kick over the trees but none of us were successful. Randy in particular got stuck in a really bad place in the middle of the trees. He pondered taking the 5 stroke penalty but in the end decided to just kick forward. He managed to get through the trees in only 1 or 2 additional kicks, whereas Doug and I used multiple kicks to try and finesse our soccer balls through the small path through the trees. This gave Randy a lead he would not relinquish.

The access road was gravel and the ball did not roll as well as we initially thought that it might. We all took many kicks to try and get the ball down to Innovation Way. Then, the "dodging moving cars" part of the fun began. We got a little separated as we all tried to make sure none of our balls got run over by cars. In particular I had quite a bit of problem getting my ball successfully rolling down the street (slight down grade for the first part of Innovation). At the yellow circle, again a "helpful" runner stopped Randy's ball from rolling down the street.

Being several strokes behind at this point, you can see the darker blue line where I deviated course from the other 2. I kicked my ball over a barbed-wire fence and through some grass. I think that this saved me a few strokes. At this point I was on about 55, with Doug at about 51 and Randy around 40. At the green dot, as I kicked my ball across Western Row, a "helpful" construction worker thought it would be funny to give it a good boot back over Western Row, costing me 1-2 strokes as I had to re-kick it across the street.

As we got through the back lawn of where we work, we faced another dilemma. Separating the "goal" of the back patio from where we were is a decent-sized ravine. Over, or around? Doug and Randy went around where again, needing to do something different to get myself out of last place, went over. Well, I tried to go over. Mostly I went through. Again though, after I found my ball through the heavy underbrush (pricker bushes!) it only took me 1 additional stroke to "chip" it out of the weeds and up over a bench and on to the patio. Doug went off the side of the path into the other side of the ravine, whereas Randy got his ball stuck in not one but TWO trees, costing him 10 strokes.

I avoided the dirty looks of the people eating lunch on the patio as I kicked my ball into the goal, finishing last time-wise but in 2nd place with 71 strokes. Doug was last with 75 and Randy was first with a world record of 67 strokes.

All in all a very fun happening and hopefully not the last!

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