Portland, Oregon joined millions around the world at noon on Saturday, teeing off to celebrate "World Urban Golf Day". This was my first time. It won't be my last. Portland urban golf turned out to be everything I'd hoped. I anticipated the absurdity of striking a tennis ball off asphalt with a 5-iron. I anticipated the bizarre hazards to be encountered on a course plotted through industrial back streets. What I did not anticipate was the pub-crawl aspect of the event or how much of a kick in the pants this group is. Thanks to the brilliant course designing skills of local adult recreation guru Scott Mazariegos, the links were strung between bars and quicki-marts.
Each golfer teed off the first hole one by one, but we eventually coalesced into a single mob, a thirtysome, roving the empty streets, clubs a-swinging, balls a-flying. I ended up in the trees a few times. I lost balls behind chain-link and barbed wire. I duffed, shanked, and found myself with unplayable lies. In other words, it was exactly like regular golf. Word of advice: leave your 95 mph clubhead speed at home. Tennis balls are different than golf balls. Trap them perfectly with a descending blow just before the bottom of the swing arc, and they turn into a fist full of bubble gum at impact, instantaneously stuck to the asphalt like a gob of hot tar. They go nowhere. No, tennis balls must be swept cleanly off the pavement. I carded a couple of 12's before figuring that out.
Urban golf feels like... freedom. It feels the way you felt in junior high, before you had a car or an ID, roving the streets with your friends, making up games to entertain yourself, drinking beers out of paper bags. For those who might play real golf, urban golf feels like real golf felt before the game tricked you into trying so hard. Real golf feels like its playing you, more often than not. But with urban golf, you are truly playing.
You can see a little about the game in this video, and Portland Urban Golf is on Facebook.
|custom rolling golf bag w/ mini bar|
|old school bag - nice find|
|roman numeral 5 marked each hole|