Jordan Nichols enjoys soccer, she’s played the sport for many years. Golf, however, not so much.
Pair the two sports together and you have footgolf, a growing sport that Nichols has fallen in love with. And she’s really good at it, too.
Nichols, a 2017 C. Milton Wright graduate and 2021 University of New Haven graduate, starred in soccer at both schools — until she couldn’t.
“I had a bunch of concussions that ended my soccer career during my senior [college] season, well, kind of my senior season because it got canceled by COVID. We had some scrimmages and it was my final concussion,” Nichols said. “My trainer was like, yeah, you can’t do this anymore, but I still wanted to stay competitive in some way and got an internship at Morphius Records in Baltimore and the owner of the record label, David Andler, asked if I play soccer.”
Nichols, of course, said yes, and the two talked about soccer before Andler asked if Nichols had ever tried footgolf. She quickly replied, “Never heard of it.”
“Always down to try new things, so he took me out and we played and I just fell in love with it,” Nichols said. “I was a center midfielder, so a lot of my strengths were distribution skills, long balls with accuracy, it just happened to translate over to the sport.”
So, the journey began.
Nichols’ footgolf start began in August last year, and in November she stunned opponents and herself at the national championship in Reidsville, Georgia.
“When I went to the national championship, it was a three-round tournament and it was like my fifth time playing, ever. I was not confident at all,” Nichols said.
Many women had been playing for years and Nichols figured she would lose by a lot.
“I went out to have fun and see what happens and at the end of the first day, I was in third. That’s when my confidence started to go up a little,” Nichols said. “I thought maybe I could win this and then by the end of the third day, I was first.”
It wasn’t so easy, though, as Nichols was part of a three-way tie, meaning a playoff.
“We all tied the first hole and the second hole, I made a birdie and they made a par and bogey,” Nichols said. “Made a 12-yard putt with my foot.”
And with that, Nichols was hooked. The victory earned her a spot on the U.S. National Footgolf Team.
More recently, Nichols competed in a pair of major U.S. Footgolf competitions in Orlando, Florida, at the end of May.
At Walt Disney World’s Palm Golf Course, she was runner-up in the U.S. Open. Nichols (plus 10) finished behind one of the top players in the world, Claire Williams (plus 6), from England.
Nichols also competed for the U.S. in the Jansen Cup, named for footgolf founder Michael Jansen. The tournament parallels the PGA’s Ryder Cup.
Jordan stepped up and won all five of her matches for the U.S. national team, helping it win the Jansen Cup for the first time ever.
Best ball and alternate shot matches covered two days and the third day consisted of singles matches. Nichols’ partner was Jo Reid from Alaska, a 2019 national champion.
Nichols says her next big tournament is the national championship in November, where she will defend her title. Nichols is also looking forward to next May for the U.S. Open in Orlando and the World Cup.
“My national championship win qualified me for the World Cup team and that’s going to be huge, there’s going to be 3,000 players there,” Nichols said.
Last month in Orlando, Nichols says she kicked the ball over 13 miles in nine rounds of play.
Between now and then, Nichols will train, which she says she does four times per week. Chesapeake Bay-Rising Sun Golf Course is the only local course that has footgolf available.
“Try to go there as much as I can,” she said. “You have to watch out for flying golf balls.”
Nichols, who resides in Aberdeen, also plays at other courses in Baltimore and Silver Spring, or she goes over to Aberdeen High School to work on driving techniques. She even trains in her own backyard.
“I have the opportunity, a lot of the people who play this sport are older — 30s, 40s — I have the opportunity that I’m still young and get to be an ambassador for the sport, help grow the sport and technically, as long as I stay healthy, have like a 30-year career ahead of me,” Nichols, 22, said. “I get the opportunity of hopefully getting better and better, helping grow the sport and eventually, I hope in 10 years, we’re playing an actual tour style like golf and our travel is covered, the prize money is a lot better.”