Stories and Articles

It’s A “Hole” Other Ballgame

Fajerman enjoys a game of footgolf with a friendThere is one thing that many sports industry analysts can agree on: the popularity of golf is declining in the U.S.

Rather than watch their once-thriving businesses hurt for customers, three San Diego County golf courses – as well as 300 others throughout the country – have turned to a relatively new sport, footgolf, to re-energize their profitability.

What is Footgolf?

Footgolf is played on a regulation golf course and combines soccer and golf with players kicking a soccer ball into an appropriate sized hole that is either in the rough or alongside a fairway. Like regular golf, the ball is teed off, has a similar scoring structure and requires great skill and finesse to get the ball into the hole.

San Diego native and 2007 SDSU Sports Business MBA graduate, Ariel Fajerman, founded his new business, FootGolf San Diego, based on this promising new sport. With three courses in San Diego County – Rancho Carlsbad, Tecolote Canyon and National City – recently set up for footgolf, he saw an opportunity to be the so-far only business to implement various events around the sport such as tournaments, fund-raisers and corporate team builders.

FootGolf San Diego’s first tournament was held in April 2015 with more to come. “Soccer is huge in San Diego and once the three local courses came online in the summer of 2014, I saw the potential of the sport to grow rapidly in the region,” said Fajerman. “I work with the local footgolf courses to bring people out to play either for fun or to compete.”

"I work with the local footgolf courses to bring people out to play either for fun or to compete." 

His Degree Gave him the Right Skill Set

Fajerman was part of the second-ever class to graduate in from SDSU’s Sports Business MBA program and became interested in pursuing a career in sports business after he had completed a career in radio and working as a marketing consultant. “When I came across the program, I saw it as a great opportunity to improve my business knowledge and bring value to a sports organization,” he recalled.

Fajerman (second from left) with the coaches from the Catalyst Training CenterHis education has played a significant role in the way he manages FootGolf San Diego. “My degree has been essential to driving the business,” said Fajerman. “I have to manage all aspects such as finances, marketing strategy, business development and sponsorship pitches. Additionally, as a sports business start-up, innovation is a key element and what I learned in class has played a big role in every aspect of running the company.”

Getting Folks Back on the Golf Course

And given the growing popularity of the sport, Fajerman has positioned his business in a growing market. He noted “Footgolf is getting people on to a golf course who have never been there before. Plus, San Diego is a soccer crazy town. With 70+ youth and adult soccer clubs and leagues, a large Latino audience, an outdoor lifestyle, and lots of golf courses, it’s the perfect environment for a sport like footgolf to blossom.”