Springtime. And our thoughts turn to Augusta and lush green courses and a tradition unlike any other.
No not The Masters tournament — FootGolf.
1) What the heck is FootGolf? We ask Laura Balestrini, president of the California-based American FootGolf League. "FootGolf is a precision sport where players kick a soccer ball into a cup — in as few shots as possible."
2) Who invented it? People began playing in Europe around 2009, then it spread to South and North America. The American FootGolf League is the national organization with the most FootGolf courses - golf courses that allow FootGolfers to play — in the world. The best players, Laura says, are abroad.
3) How did you get involved? "Through a world sport's TV channel," Laura says. She and her husband, Roberto, saw some Argentinians playing FootGolf on TV. "None of them were running, just waiting for their turn — like the pace of golf," Laura says. "I noticed they were not wearing soccer cleats on the fairways. And there were big holes located yards away from the greens. Everything made sense to us. On top of that, those guys were having so much fun that we immediately fell in love with the concept and pictured ourselves doing the same with family and friends."
4) What is your best score? The beauty of FootGolf, Laura says, "is that it can be as fun or as competitive as you want. I play just for fun. I don't have a score or handicap, yet." The AGFL plans to introduce a national handicapping system in 2014.
5) What equipment do you need? A regulation FIFA #5 soccer ball. You can bring your own or rent one at the Pro-Shop, Laura says.
6) Are the rules pretty much the same as golf? Yes. The rules are similar.
7) What's with the argyle socks? "The FootGolf look is the result of combining practical considerations — such as freedom of movement and appropriate attire for being on a golf course — with the desire to embody the cheekiness of the sport," Laura says. "The Argyle on socks and uniforms is just a note of color. Don't you love it?"
8) How big is the FootGolf movement in America? "We are really focused on growing FootGolf to be known as a real sport," she says, "FootGolf is an instrument that can integrate the number one elite sport in the world —golf — with the number one popular sport in the world - soccer — and in order to do that, we have to inform and educate players from both sports."
10) How many golf courses are open for play? In the U.S., there are AFGL Accredited FootGolf courses in nearly half the states, she says, "and the phone doesn't stop ringing."
11) Does FootGolf tear up golf courses? No. "FootGolfers don't use soccer cleats," Laura says. And the FootGolf Cups — target holes that are 21 inches in diameter —are located many feet away from the greens.
12) Who makes better FootGolfers - soccer players or golfers? "Golfers with experience in soccer are the best fit," Says Laura. "Many soccer players are very good but, they are used to running, passing or kicking the ball on a flat surface. They don't know how to read the course and usually they don't pay too much attention to the contour of the terrain, at least at the beginning. They are better on long drives and possibly on the approach, but golfers with a notion of soccer take the time on the putting, using their legs as Godgiven putters."
13) Do people in other countries play FootGolf? It is an International Sport, Laura says, that is played in more than 20 some countries. The first ever FootGolf World Cup was held in Budapest, Hungary in 2012.
14) Who is the best FootGolfer in America at the moment? Probably Javier Barrionuevo or Bryan Byrne, Laura says. Both FootGolfers are from California.
15) FootGolf is to a golf course as snowboarding is to a ski slope. Fair? "You won't find a better analogy." she says.
16) What is the biggest obstacle to FootGolf's success? "I really don't see one," she says.
17) Is it better to be right-footed or left-footed to play most courses? "Great question," Laura says. "Just 10% of the players are left-footed. Go figure."
18) Do FootGolfers lose soccer balls in the woods? Not so much in the woods, she says. "Sometimes they have to retrieve the balls from the trees or wait until the ball comes back to the shore when it's in the water — there are water hazards just like in golf."
19) Do FootGolfers yell "Fore"? "Nope, they yell 'Gooooallll'!"
The Protojournalist: Experimental storytelling for the LURVers - Listeners, Users, Readers, Viewers - of NPR. @NPRtpj
We're going galactic with this final round. Play along as puzzle guru Art Chung quizzes contestants on some truly extraterrestrial trivia, in which the answers are all things found in outer space.
Plus, V.I.P. Danny Pudi presents the grand winner with a one-of-a-kind prize: a personalized song, sung in Pudi's native Polish.
You might expect that the actor who's brought Community's most idiosyncratic character, Abed, to life, with such skill and empathy must relate to him in some way. Danny Pudi admits that while he's not so similar to his encyclopedically-inclined alter ego (save one incident of lighting himself on fire as a teenager), there is one area in which the actor and the character overlap: their love of film.
When Pudi joined Ask Me Another in San Francisco at SF Sketchfest, we put that love of celluloid to the test by pitting him against Mythbusters' Adam Savage in a fiercely-competitive round of identifying action movie one-liners. With Ahhnold impressions performed with aplomb by Ophira Eisenberg and Jonathan Coulton, Pudi and Savage participate in perhaps the most giggle-filled V.I.P. round ever.
In the funny rotunda of life imitating art and art imitating life, Pudi recently completed his directorial debut with the documentary short Untucked, about the trendsetting basketball jerseys worn at his alma mater, Marquette University. It recently aired as part of ESPN's 30 For 30 series, and Pudi speaks more about it in the web extra on this page.
The actor, who is of Indian and Polish descent, grew up speaking Polish in the house, took Polish dancing lessons and sings beautifully in the language (which he demonstrated by flirting with our audience and later serenading the show's grand winner). On the other hand, he's played five different Indian characters named "Sanjay."
"As an actor, trying to find nuance, and differentiate between five different Sanjays...it's a gift," Pudi joked.
Ask Me Another: it's strong and it's sudden and it's cruel sometimes, but it might just save your life. Jonathan Coulton twists Huey Lewis & the News' "The Power of Love," into a game about the 1980s.
Adam Savage, along with partner-in-science (and snark) Jamie Hyneman, has tested over 800 myths, used 12 tons of explosives and destroyed over 100 cars on the hit TV show Mythbusters. Not only is his job incredibly cool—it's often incredibly dangerous.
"Most of [the experiments] that seem scary to you were also scary to us," Savage told host Ophira Eisenberg from the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. "There's many times I've sat at the top of a long ramp, and thought, 'Well, I've pretty much done everything I can to make this as safe as possible, but it might be the last thing I ever do.'"
Adam tests the mettle of a pair of contestants, to see if they can guess which of the show's myths were busted, and which were confirmed. Learn the truth of whether urinating on the third rail can cause electrocution, whether pennies dropped off the Empire State Building can kill, and at precisely what pitch the human voice can break a crystal wine glass.
Plus, Savage joined us later in the show to take on Community's Danny Pudi in an Ask Me Another Challenge that quizzed the pair on classic action movie one-liners, and brought out everyone's best Ahhnold impressions.
On the myth too dangerous to test
There is a really elaborate [myth] about a truckful of liquid oxygen that spills on the road, and the liquid oxygen combined with the asphalt to turn the entire road into a bomb. We've researched liquid oxygen to discover that it is the scariest substance on earth, and — this is no hyperbole — can turn an oily rag into a high explosive if you hit it hard enough with a hammer. But it does not do that predictably. So, we could spend $100,000 on a tankful of liquid oxygen and spill it on a road bed that we have to have built in a desert — and then what if nothing happens? Which is often the most dangerous possible thing, because nobody wants to go over there where nothing's happened...yet.
We've stopped doing the drinking myths because it's too hard on our bodies. It sounds like a great idea to get drunk, at work, but then think through being at dinner with your family that night, and you're already hungover. It doesn't matter that you know why you did it, it still feels like you made a really dumb life decision.
Please, tell us more about getting drunk on TV
Of the drunk episodes, I really prefer the ones where police are involved. Whenever I have more than two beers, all I do is tell cop stories—to cops! My desire for difficult people to like me comes out, and kept telling them story after story trying to get them to laugh.