This year, my family and I decided to forgo most of the usual Thanksgiving traditions.

No hours spent slaving away in the kitchen. No hosting of extended family members. No awkward political discussions bringing the night to a screeching halt.

Instead, we whisked away to the Reunion Resort in Kissimmee, FL – located about 15 minutes outside of Orlando – where we would be waited on, cleaned up after, and free to be tormented by the political rants of complete strangers, rather than cherished members of our family tree.

However, there was one particular tradition that we couldn’t escape even if we’d wanted to: football.

Yes, we fulfilled our constitutional duty of playing a rousing game of flag football the morning of Thanksgiving. Of course, being hosted by the resort and open to as many different families that wanted to participate, the whole affair was a bit unorganized, frenzied, and ultimately exhausting.

Sure, it helped us build up quite the appetite for the dinner to come, but it didn’t really feel special.

Fortunately, as I discovered the following day, the Reunion Resort had a trick up its sleeve that more than satisfied my jaded athletic expectations. You see, the Reunion Resort is proudly certified by the AFGL.

Ethan kicking off for footgolf

Yes, you guessed correctly – none other than the American Footgolf League.

And footgolf, as you might have also guessed, is exactly what it sounds like: Awesome. It’s also a legitimate sport – we learned that the resort had recently hosted a big-money tournament prior to the Thanksgiving weekend.

Wait, I Didn’t Guess Any of Those Things. What’s Footgolf?

The basic premise behind footgolf is similar to the more traditional game of golf that all baby boomers know and love. It’s played on an actual golf course, complete with wide green expanses, elevation changes, sand traps, rough and smooth grass, and pars for each hole. It even includes my personal favorite aspect – golf carts – and my wife’s favorite, a beverage cart.

traveling dad kicking off for footgolf

You also play with a ball. However, this ball is slightly larger than a standard golf ball. It’s more the size and shape of a soccer ball. This is because it is in fact, a soccer ball. Also, your 9 iron is your leg.

Finally, footgolf differs from regular golf in one particularly crucial way – it’s fun.

What Makes Footgolf So Great?

My wife, dad, and two sons spent about three hours running, kicking, and driving up and down an entire 18-hole course with only the setting sun to remind us of just how long we’d been at it. Everything about the experience seemed designed to keep all members of the family engaged.

kicking ball into hole in footgolf

The grass allowed the balls to roll well, which meant even our 4-year-old felt competitive the whole time. The trees and luxury homes that framed most of the holes provided plenty of shade in the late afternoon, as well as a picturesque setting for the adults to admire.

As an added bonus, there was plenty of visibility on the course. So, when the kids ran ahead we could easily keep an eye on them…and watch them casually kick our balls off course.

Given the shortened distance between the holes and tees of the footgolf course — and our being the lone footgolf party at the time — we were able to play at a relatively quick pace, leaving the kids no time to argue or get bored and cranky.

boys playing footgolf

Despite taking up a large part of our day, the kids remained enthusiastic the entire time – which helped us fully enjoy it as well.

Football, Shmootball

At the conclusion of an extended weekend that featured feasts, shows, and even a water park (Seriously, go check out all of Reunion Resort’s offerings), it was that game of footgolf that stood as my favorite.

boys having fun playing footgolf

My leg was a bit sore afterward, sure. And I should have worn more sturdy shoes so as not to feel as though I’d broken my foot by the end of it. But no matter. As we drove down the winding road surrounding the golf course and out the resort’s main gate, there was only one thing I found myself wishing to come back and do again.

Seems it might be time for a new Thanksgiving family tradition.