Scotland's top footgolfer takes on America

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Gavin Craig took up footgolf less than two years ago

Scotland's top "footgolfer" is preparing to fly to America to take part in the sport's first Ryder Cup-style competition.

Gavin Craig, 28, is the country's number-one ranked player of footgolf, a cross between football and golf played on a specially-adapted course.

In May he will join UK teammates in California, taking on the Americans in a three-day tournament, the Jansen Cup.

He hopes the fast-growing sport will eventually become an Olympic event.

Gavin, a supermarket worker from Prestwick, Ayrshire, first became involved in footgolf two years ago when he saw a Facebook post advertising a new course in Cumbernauld.

"I was an amateur footballer, that's all I was. I played golf when I was younger but I wasn't any good so I decided to give it up," he told BBC Radio Scotland.

He believes the mark of a good footgolfer is accuracy and precision, rather than the ability to kick the ball great distances.

"I sometimes crouch down like a golfer would, to see the line of the putt, maybe if it's a left to right putt and it's not straight at the hole," he said.

"I think as well for a footballer, it's not something you practice in training. In training they will try to play a pass firmly into someone's feet, for them to control it, whereas in footgolf you have to be quite delicate at times, to tap it towards the hole."

The director of Footgolf Scotland, Paul Doherty, said versions of the sport had been around since the early 20th Century but the modern game originated in the Netherlands in 2009.

Image source, Iaian Sands

He organised the first Scottish event in 2014 and there are now eight courses across the country offering footgolf.

He said: "We are trying to get more people playing competitively. Gavin only started under two years ago and he's number one in Scotland.

"We've got a few other guys like Gavin coming through that's getting better - but we need more players to be playing regularly in order to get Scotland a good team. We've got a game against England later this year.

"We are hoping to compete with them. Obviously they've been doing it a lot longer so we need top guys to be playing it so we can put up a good performance."

Mr Doherty believes footgolf is more accessible than traditional golf. There is no need for expensive equipment and a round takes less time, so the whole family can get involved.

Cumbernauld boasts Scotland's only dedicated footgolf course, but other golf courses provide facilities - including the 21-inch holes - to the side of the normal greens.

Gavin Craig has already competed in several international contests and hopes that sponsorship could enable him to become Scotland's first professional footgolfer.

The Jansen Cup, named after Michael Jansen, one of the founders of modern footgolf, will take place from 22-24 May at Palm Desert, California.

A Tartan super series will take place at courses throughout Scotland in April to try to generate more interest in footgolf.