“It started out back in the ‘90s as extreme croquet,” says Sales Manager Bill Foster of The Barbecue Store, which developed and sells the packaged version of the game. “The problem was that over the distances being played there were too many arguments over whether the ball went through the wicket. The answer was holes, so the guys started burying one gallon flower pots and Off-Road Golf was born. I think it caught on so quickly because anyone can play, you can build a course anywhere, you don’t need lessons and it’s really inexpensive.”
Off-Road Golf evolved over the years and developed its own equipment to become the game it is today. Like traditional golf, it is typically played by a foursome over a course of par-rated holes. Unlike golf, however, a standard course consists of 10 par three to par five holes, a single multi-use rubber-headed mallet replaces golf’s set of clubs and the balls are slightly larger than baseballs. Balls can be driven or putted with the mallet or flipped out of difficult lies with a grooved handle-end of the mallet.
“Laying out the course is almost as much fun as playing,” says Foster. “You can build on a lawn, in a field, on hills or out in the woods and you set par based on distance and challenge. A relatively clear 60 foot shot might be a par three, while a 200 foot hole with a couple of obstacles like hills, rocks or trees might be a par five. I’ve seen permanent 10-hole courses out in the woods, and I’ve seen three-hole temporary courses set up for a weekend camping trip. I’ve even seen a one-hole course with half-a-dozen tees, each with its own par; it was like playing six different holes.”
Asked why the game is being marketing by a company that manufactures and sells barbecue accessories, Foster had a ready answer. “Off-Road Golf just seems to go with outdoor food. I’m not saying you have to barbecue to play, but I’d recommend it. That’s not to say that folks don’t take the game seriously. We just had the 12th Annual Off-Road Golf World Championship with 60 participants. It’s always very competitive.”
Foster knows of at least 140 courses in Shasta County alone and suggests another reason for building one. One of the rules of the game is that, as a player, you should leave the course better than when you got there, so players are regularly picking up rocks and twigs as they play. “My course is out in some pine woods, and after several years it’s like a park out there,” he says.
The complete kit for building a course and playing the game consists of 10 hole liner cups, 10 marking flags with stands, four mallets, four balls, instructions for course design and rules for play. Additional balls can be purchased in sets of four and additional mallets are available individually or in sets of four. Detailed information on the game is available at www.off-roadgolf.com and the equipment can be ordered at the site. Orders are being taken now for holiday shipment.
In addition to selling Off-Road Golf game kits, The Barbecue Store (toolwizard.com and bbq-tools.com)