Have you heard of archery golf? It’s like golf, only better because it’s played with a bow and arrow. Most people who play it love it. Similarly, most people who hear about it want to try it. Learn how to incorporate this game into your business – or partner with someone who already offers it – to provide a fun, unique shooting opportunity for your customers.
The rules vary, but most people play one of two versions of archery golf.
In one type, archers shoot targets designed to look like a golf green. Each archer shoots one arrow per target, and they earn the score shown on the target. For example, if they shoot the center, they have hit a hole-in-one and receive one stroke. But if they hit the outermost ring, they score five strokes. Some archery golf targets don’t have rings, but rather water hazards and sand traps, valued with a specific point designation. The target version is usually played indoors.
A second version is set up like a golf course, or even on a real course, with a target at each hole. Competitors shoot from the tee. The goal is to arrow the target in as few shots as possible. Instead of counting strokes, the way you do in golf, you count how many arrows it takes to reach the target. Because this version requires more space, it is typically played outdoors.
Archery golf dates back to 1922 and spread to country clubs and golf clubs across the country. Photo Credit: The Pilot
According to the 1932 November issue of Golfdom magazine, archery golf was developed and promoted in 1922 at the Mayfield Country Club in Cleveland, Ohio, as a way to entertain club members during the winter. When the article was published, over 150 golf clubs across the country started offering archery golf alongside other winter sports, including trapshooting, tobogganing, ice skating and skiing.
In the article “Archery Golf: Fastest Growing Winter Sport Offers Chance for Profits,” author Jack Fulton Jr. said archery golf was the ideal winter sport because arrows aren’t affected by snow because they fly through the air. Additionally, participants could dress warmly and complete the course in less than two hours because all the archers could tee off at the same time.
The sport became profitable for golf clubs as they rented archery tackle to participants. Many enjoyed the sport and later bought the rental equipment. Plus, they’d occasionally break or lose arrows and have to buy new ones.
The ATA has created printable archery golf target faces and scorecards. ATA-members can download them for free through the Resource Website. Photo Credit: ATA
If you have a 3D course, an outdoor space or access to a large woodlot, you can create your own archery golf course and host a unique event for your community. Offer rental equipment so newcomers can try the activity without making a commitment.
Archery golf offers great flexibility. If you’re designing a course or an on-the-range experience, you can make it as easy as you want. You can adjust the rules, scores and shooting distance for each hole. Let your imagination run wild, and tweak the format until it is challenging and enjoyable for your customers. But be sure to focus on safety when you plan the course layout.
Fulton’s article compared the hazards of archery golf at the time to regular golf. “An arrow does not slice or hook; it goes straight from the bow and only in the very highest winds will it drift off the fairway into the rough,” he said. “Thus, the archer has full control over the arrow at all times. Moreover, the very fact that arrows are being shot makes the player careful to observe ordinary caution.”
The article pointed out that archery golf should not have blind or dogleg holes to ensure the participants can see when the group in front of them clears the green.
If you don’t have access to a large outdoor space, you can still play archery golf on a regular range using special targets and rules. A few ATA-member manufacturers have archery golf products for your range and shelves. For example, Carbon Express makes an archery golf arrow-and-hole combo product, and Morrell Targets makes an archery golf target face. Additionally, the ATA has created nine free, printable 8-by-11-inch targets, aka golf holes, to pin to your backdrop. Let your participants take turns shooting each hole. ATA staff also created printable scorecards. Click here to download and print the free resources. Please note: you will be required to log into your MyATA member dashboard account.
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Add archery golf as an event at your range or sponsor an archery golf tournament at a local golf course like Lancaster Archery did, pictured above. Photo Credit: Lancaster Online
If you’re not up for creating an archery golf event of your own, search for archery golf events or clubs in your area and consider becoming a partner. Exhibiting at an event or sponsoring a club or event could bring attention to your business as well as introduce current customers to a fun, new archery-based activity. If there isn’t anything nearby, contact a local golf course to discuss a partnership archery golf event. The course can supply the terrain and golf greens, and you can bring the archers. Agree on an entry fee, what expenses will be covered, and how to split the proceeds. Work with your insurance providers to ensure you’re covered. For more information about working with partners, read ATA’s article “Retailers: Embrace the Power of Partnerships.”
Questions? Contact Nicole Nash, ATA’s range and retail programs manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.