August 29, 2006

Golf with a clog proves big hit with the Dutch

By Alexandra Hudson

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch farmer Peter Weenink strides
through a cow field brandishing the essentials for "Farmers'
Golf," his cheap and cheerful version of formal golf which has
grown from a bit of backyard fun into a serious sport.

The tall cheese maker carefully places a ball on the
ground, takes a swing with a wooden clog attached to a long
stick and sends the ball flying with a resounding thwack.

New Farmers' Golf courses are springing up almost every
week ( and Weenink said the game he
invented in the northeast of the Netherlands in 1999 is
expected to attract up to half a million players next year.

"Farmers' Golf was born out of a kind of frustration," he

Infuriated by the prohibitive prices and elitism of
traditional golf clubs -- golfers have to pass an exam in the
Netherlands to be allowed onto the course -- Weenink decided he
had land enough of his own to improvise.

Players use a 'clog club' and complete a round of 10 holes.
One of the sport's main attractions is that it is played on
bumpy farmland, with cow dung and puddles posing deliberate
challenges, rather than the velvety turf of a golf course.

Weenink found just one snag.

"Using small (golf) balls in the fields where cows are
walking, you'd spend the whole day searching for the ball -- so
we took a bigger ball."

The clog club has proved particularly popular in the
Netherlands, where clogs are a well-loved national symbol, but
the sport has spread to neighboring Belgium and Germany.

The Belgians even won an international Farmers' Golf title,
much to Dutch chagrin. "We are very surprised. It just started
as a bit of fun," said Weenink of the sport's soaring

Asked about the secret of success in Farmers' Golf, which
some traditional golf courses now offer, Weenink replied: "a
good swing."