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Will Japanese Park Golf become a major competitor within the U.S.? (Op-Ed)

A new international golf variant has begun to make some major headway within the United States. Japanese Park Golf officially announced its second-ever location in Ellicottville, New York. According to WKBW, the sport was initially brought over to the States thanks to the late pro wrestler Dick Beyer aka, the Destroyer.

According to the International Park Golf Association of America (IPGAA), Park Golf was invented in Makubetso, Hokkaido, Japan in 1983 and has similar qualities to golf and croquet. That being said, many call the sport “mini-golf on steroids.” Sports Illustrated noted that the game already has a sizable fan base in Denmark, Sweden, Korea, Thailand, and Brazil. According to Golf.com, there are around 1,200 Park Golf courses in Japan.

Park Golf, similar to mini golf, encourages players of all ages and golf experience to play thanks to its relaxed rule set. Park Golf players only need a single larger-sized ball and club to enjoy the game. While there can be challenges when a park golfer reaches a higher range of skill, most Park Golf players play to enjoy nature and get their exercise in. Unsurprisingly, Park Golf has maintained popularity with the elderly.

Beyer first encountered Park Golf during his wrestling career in Japan in the 1960s and 1970s. Beyer fell in love with the game so much he had dreamed of bringing it over to the U.S. Luckily in 2013, Beyer’s dream came true with the help of his daughter Kris Beyer and her then-fiancé Chris Jones. Destroyer Park Golf Course opened in Akron, New York, and was the first-ever park Golf course in the U.S.

“I’m one of those souls who said, ‘I don’t want to be 65 years old and wished I had,’ so I said to my fiancé at the time, ‘This is what this is. Do you want to give it a try?’” said Kris Beyer to Sports Illustrated. “We also did it so my father wouldn’t get old.”

Park Golf has a ways to go to get U.S. golfers on board. Despite this, the sport has one huge advantage to help raise interest: compared to traditional golf, Park Golf is much more affordable. Golfwrx.com notes that one round of Park Golf in the U.S. can cost as low as $10.

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