New sport hopes to bring more fans to old game

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BELLEVILLE, IL (KTVI)-- Justin Mueller wants to move soccer players from the pitch to the links.

"Basically it's golf with a size five soccer ball," says Justin Mueller, the Clinton Hills Director of Golf.

But leave your shin guards at home if you want to play a round of foot golf.

"You do dress like a golfer, you want to come out in a collared shirt, khaki shorts or pants or even knickers and then a pair of tennis shoes or indoor soccer shoes," says Mueller.

Clinton Hills Golf Course in Belleville, Illinois is among a handful of courses nationwide getting their feet wet with a new sport that combines two classic games.

"So we thought, why not expand from the golf and bring in foot golf and get some soccer players out here, get some people into golf," says Mueller.  "You get foot golfers out here and they might transition to regular golf."

According to the National Golf Foundation, the game has lost five million players over the last decade.

That's why Clinton Hills hopes to bring those fair weathered fans back to the fairways.

"You just made it up?" asks golfer Cliff Hattan.

"No it's a real thing," says Patrick Clark.

"It's nationwide?" asks Hattan.

"It's sweeping the country," replies Clark.

"It's not sweeping here," laughs Hattan.

Foot Golf won't give regular golf the boot, as the course is combined with the existing holes.

"They don't really notice it on the course cause because most of the holes are in the rough off on the side not really in the way," says Mueller.  "The regular golfer doesn't really see it unless they see someone out here doing it."

Just as a mule takes the best traits from a donkey and a horse, foot golf has the potential to be on par with other great combinations like chocolate and peanut butter, Sonny and Cher or Brad and Angelina.

"If it gets people outside and gets them moving and gets them active, even kids, especially kids then I'm all for it," says Fr. Mike Hussey an avid golfer.

"It has your blessing?" asks Clark.

"Oh yes," smiles Fr. Hussey.

That's the goal, to get generations together for a round with a bigger, rounder ball and a 21 inch cup.