Being a FootGolf champion is par for the course for insurance lawyer Josh Ackland, who tried his hand at the precision sport not long after hanging up his competitive soccer boots. We meet the Australian number one of this emerging hybrid sport, which requires no clubs but a whole lot of mental fortitude.
FootGolf was little known in mainstream Australia until a producer for The Bachelor thought it would make for a quirky date scenario for one of the show’s 2018 seasons. Perhaps more novel than romantic, the date fizzled and the whole competition ended with bachelor Nick “Honey Badger” Cummins walking off screen solo. But 32-year-old Josh Ackland, a senior lawyer at Suncorp, was well across the game before it was beamed into the living rooms of reality TV tragics.
For the past year, Ackland has been touring local courses – with holes on the green modified to accommodate soccer balls – aiming to finess his technique and improve his performance. Not only has he qualified to represent Australia at the 2018 FootGolf World Cup in Marrakesh, Morocco, but he has finished at the top of the leader board to rank number one in the country.
“A lot of the training I’m doing between my monthly competitions is repetitious passing at the hole, getting my technique right,” Ackland says.
“There’s a bunch of things like ‘point your standing foot at the target’, ‘lock your ankle’, ‘nice and steady’, ‘follow-through in your pass’ – little things like that, which you need to do over and over to get your technique right.”