This week’s column is about footgolf, which involves kicking a soccer ball into oversized holes on a golf course.

It’s a sport few people have heard of and even fewer have played. I’m not one of them, but I do feel a connection, probably because I took up golf 25 years ago when my daughter and son graduated from youth soccer, which I had coached.

My first exposure to footgolf was in Portland, Ore., where I recently spent an evening at a hotel near the airport. I was about half a mile from Colwood Golf, a course I’d seen several times but never played.

When I walked over to see what the course was like, I saw three people kicking soccer balls in a fairway. I thought little of it, until I saw orange tee markers that featured a soccer player and oversized cups with shortened flags scattered about the course.

A young man who was playing traditional golf explained that the par-three golf course doubles as a footgolf course, where players kick a soccer ball from a tee box to a 21-inch hole in as few kicks as possible. Holes typically range in length from 70 yards to 220 yards.

Marketing director Kary Youmen told me Colwood added footgolf three years ago to increase usage of the city-owned course. Footgolf is frequently a venue for corporate outings and weddings, he added.

When I looked online, I learned that Europeans had begun playing footgolf during the 1980s, although there was an earlier version called Codeball that was played in the United States beginning in the 1920s.

That game’s inventor was Dr. William E. Code of Chicago, hence the name. There were two versions. One was a foot-only style of handball played on an indoor court; the other was played on golf courses.

Codeball was placed under the jurisdiction of the Amateur Athletic Union in 1929, and I found a 1932 advertisement listing Des Moines’ Woodside Golf Course as one of the earliest venues to feature Codeball.

The popularity of both indoor and outdoor Codeball faded after World War II.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the first modern footgolf tournament was held in the Netherlands in 2008 and featured soccer players.

The American Footgolf League was founded in 2011, and the game spread across the United States at a time when traditional golf courses were looking for ways to expand play.

That’s what Ned Chiodo was thinking when he introduced footgolf to Des Moines’ Bright Grandview Golf Course in 2014. Chiodo, who operates Des Moines’ three publicly owned golf courses and Polk County’s Jester Park Golf Course, figured it could be a new income stream.

He set up a course at Grandview but quickly ran into problems. One was that traditional golfers didn’t want to share space with foot players. The other was that foot players didn’t like to pay the $15 fee.

“They argued that disc golf was free and footgolf should be, too,” Chiodo explained.

After that first year, Chiodo packed up the sport’s 21-inch holes and tee markers and offered them to the city’s Cownie Soccer Park, which, he said, showed no interest.

But that wasn’t the end of footgolf in the Des Moines area. Warrior Run Golf Course in Waukee added footgolf three years ago and reports that interest is growing, particularly among soccer players.

“This year we had the Iowa Senior Games footgolf tournament,” said Carol Nitzschke-Heinrich, Warrior’s golf professional. The Waukee course also held qualifier rounds this year for players to compete in a regional tournament in Kansas City, she said.

While many traditional golfers remain cool to the concept, the sport does give new meaning to the term “foot wedge.” n