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A Round of Golf Anyone? Bring Your Bow

March 10, 2010
By Doc Roberts, OVO Pro Staff
If you happen to be driving past a golf course this winter and see a group of people shooting arrows into the sky, you would wonder what was going on. They are armed with bows and were attacking an oversized golf ball occasionally. Don’t call your local Sheriff or Homeland Security; it’s just a group of archery enthusiasts playing archery golf.

Well, I thought this would make a good story since most people are not aware that the sport of archery golf actually exists and is still being played. I found a golf course in Beloit, OH that opens its facilities every winter to those who want to brave the weather and hit the links for a round or two of archery golf.

Westville Lake Country Club and Archery Range has been providing its golf course for archery golf since the late 1960s. When Dennis Lane took over the course in 1976 he continued to keep the facility open through the winter to those who wanted to play. Lane not only sets up the course and keeps the clubhouse warm; but also carries complete line of archery products to satisfy every archers needs. Westville Lake Country Club also has a heated indoor archery range for those who don’t want to brave the elements.

One might think that shooting arrows into the air might be a little dangerous for those who are out on the links since it wouldn’t be like getting hit with a golf ball. Granting you it could be, but I was confident after seeing how the groups were staggered between holes and every player was being safety conscience, greatly minimizing the odds of being hit with an arrow. It also goes without saying broadheads are banned on the course. Actually I felt safer on the golf course than being on a few 3-D courses in the past.

Playing golf with a bow and arrow is pretty much like playing with a set of clubs. The distance from the tee to the flag and the number of shots to make par is known. Instead of putting the hole out as in golf, the “hole” is a sponge rubber ball the size of a softball mounted on a wire pedestal, about five inches above the ground. You either have to penetrate or knock the ball off the pedestal with an arrow to putt out. A flag is used to mark the location of the hole and to set up a shot.

There are few equipment restrictions and just about any type of bow can be used. The real secret for shooting low scores is the arrows. Just like clubs, different styles of arrows are used to obtain maximum distance when driving and to keep the arrow from skipping on frozen ground when making closer shots, such as making a tee shot and putting. With the right equipment, a good score on a 6000-yard, 18-hole course would be about 60 shots or strokes.

In the 1920’s, an archer by the name of Howard Hill, who was working as a golf pro on a Florida golf course, wrote the rules for archery golf and went on to win many tournaments in Florida and other states. Those rules, with some minor changes, are still used today. In the 70’s archery golf became so popular in Ohio the National Field Archery Association gave it status on the same level as Field, Indoor, and Target archery and it had it’s own governing body and a state championship tournament. There were no national standard for rules that governed play and equipment restrictions, each state adopted their own.

Archery golf is usually played on smaller courses that are closed for the winter. A local club would set up the course and sponsor a tournament usually on Sundays, regardless of the weather.

No one is quite sure when the first game of archery golf was played, but archery and golf were two sports the people of “Old” England loved to participate in. Golf was once banned by the King because it interfered with archery practice and it was mandatory that all male subjects starting at a certain age had to practice archery daily in case England had to go to war.

Combining archery and golf went together like chocolate and peanut butter. The favorite past time for archers in Merry Old England and the United States was a clout shoot and roving. Clout shooting is where a target of a large diameter was placed at distances over 200 yards. The goal was who could put a number of arrows into the circle closest to the center won. Roving is going out in the field, picking a target, or spot at an unknown distance and shooting at it. Whoever was the closet to the spot picked was the winner. In golf it’s who can reach the green and putt out in the least number of strokes wins the hole. By replacing the golf club with a bow, the ball with an arrow and using a hole as the target, what other two sports could fit together that perfect?

Article Photos

Playing golf with a bow and arrow is pretty much like playing with a set of clubs. The distance from the tee to the flag and the number of shots to make par is known. Photo by Doc Roberts

Fact Box

You either have to penetrate or knock the ball off the pedestal with an arrow to putt out.



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