FootGolf and more coming to Calverton’s ‘Long Island Sports Park’

Spencer Bentley (center) takes a shot at the 21-inch wide cup in a game of FootGolf with friends Brooke Del Prete (from left), Ethan Faralan and Cole Del Prete at Long Island Sports Wednesday morning in Calverton. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Spencer Bentley (center) takes a shot at the 21-inch wide cup in a game of FootGolf with friends Brooke Del Prete (from left), Ethan Faralan and Cole Del Prete at Long Island Sports Park in Calverton Wednesday morning. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

A hybrid soccer golf game called FootGolf, zombie-infested 5K races, concerts and more are coming to the former Calverton Links golf course, which abruptly closed Oct. 30, 2013, and has only been used for special events ever since.

Now under new leadership, the facility has been re-dubbed Long Island Sports Park and features a nine-hole FootGolf course, recently refurbished mini-golf course and catering hall. It opens to the public this Saturday.

A group called Bashi Calverton Links LLC, headed by developer Parviz Farahzad, purchased the 126-acre property on Edwards Avenue on May 30 for $3.5 million, according to county records.

In January, Long Island Sports Park co-owners Dean Del Prete and his cousin Paul Sattler signed a lease to maintain approximately 80 acres of the course.

But FootGolf isn’t all the pair — who also own five Cousins Paintball locations, including one situated next to the Calverton sports park — has planned for the property. Mr. Del Prete said to expect a home for their super-popular Survival Race series, festivals and more.

“I would drive by this golf course all the time. It was in pretty bad disrepair,” he said during an interview at the Edwards Avenue facility Tuesday. “Golf has fallen out of favor in the last few years so I said, ‘Let’s find an alternative.’ ”

From 2006 through 2013, more golf courses closed than opened in the United States, according to the National Golf Foundation. It’s been eight years since Tiger Woods, who helped propel the game into the mainstream, has won a major tournament.

Locally, three golf courses in Riverhead Town closed in 2013. One of those, Long Island National, has reopened as a private club. Another, Great Rock Golf Course, has also since reopened.

It’s safe to say golf is on the decline in the United States and has been for several years.

“Every macro indicator that we’ve been looking at for the past 20 years — rounds played, number of minorities playing, women coming into the game — all of these things that we tracked say that there is less people playing,” Mark King, the former CEO of TaylorMade and current president of Adidas, told HBO’s “Real Sports” in 2014. “I don’t like where the game looks like it’s going.”

Long Island Sports Park

Tom Raynor (from left), Yogi Raynor and Tara Del Prete play a round of no-putt golf at Long Island Sports Park in Calverton. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

FootGolf, which doesn’t require the intense and environmentally harmful upkeep of a traditional golf course, is played with soccer balls and 21-inch-diameter cups. The object is to kick the ball into the cup in as few shots as possible. No special shoes or expensive clubs are required.

One round on the nine-hole course, which Mr. Del Prete estimated will take about 40 minutes to complete, will cost $10.

Mr. Del Prete also plans to offer another game on the course, an entirely new concept he’s calling no-putt golf dreamed up by his longtime facility manager, Steve Cusano.

“He said, ‘Dean, I got a crazy idea,’ ” Mr. Del Prete said. “I said, ‘Crazy idea? I like it already.’ ”

In no-putt golf, players will pitch regular-sized golf balls into the large cups on the same course where FootGolf is played. It will be scored like traditional golf.

“It’s like pitch and chip,” said Mr. Cusano, who added that the game is played with traditional golf wedges. “So we have putt-putt and no-putt.”

Mr. Del Prete, a father of three who has been in the paintball business since the 1980s, said he has watched the sport rise and fall in popularity. When he noticed the public’s interest in paintball was starting to wane, he introduced events like a 5K obstacle course, a run featuring actors portraying zombies and a foam-covered course called “Bubblepalooza.”

Thousands of people have attended the events, which are held at the 4-H Camp in Baiting Hollow, as well as locations across the country.

“They’re just trends,” he said. “One of the reasons we came up with these runs was that paintball was on the downswing.”

Long Island Sports Park will offer a free community day Saturday, April 30. The event, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will feature mini-golf, FootGolf, no-putt golf, paintball shooting booth, bubble pit, Survival Race demonstration, kids’ obstacle course and face-painting.

Long Island Sports Park is located at 149 Edwards Ave. in Calverton.