What is Urban Golf and Why Should I Care?

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Matt Cohen | Site Editor

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While Rory McIlroy was setting all sorts of course records at Quail Hollow en route to a dominating win at the Wells Fargo Championship, half a world away there was another golf tournament taking place. Two weeks ago, at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, France won the third annual European Urban Golf Cup.

With 10 nations, 111 competitors, rules officials on each hole, and support from London Mayor Boris Johnson, the third edition of the European Urban Golf Cup was the grandest yet. It didn’t get as much television coverage or space in the paper as Rory’s win. In fact, it hardly got any (nor would you expect it to).

Competing nations were:
– Ireland
– Netherlands
– Switzerland
– France
– Czech Republic
– Luxembourg
– Hungary
– Germany
– Belgium
– England

You’ve probably heard of Urban Golf – or is it Street Golf or Cross Golf? More important than the name though is what is it, and “why should I care?”

Origins

It’s hard to ascertain the exact moment when Urban Golf came into existence. Shoreditch Golf Club formed the first 18 hole par 72 open tournament in London back in 2004. NW Urban Sports out of Portland, Oregon, helped start World Urban Golf Day back in 2007. The European Urban Golf Cup Facebook page was launched January 2013.

The Links at Thistledown established a summer league in 2014. Cooper’s Lake hosts two tournaments annually; the Cooper’s Lake Open and the Cooper’s Lake Championship. They are considered to be the unofficial major championships of urban golf and cross golf, due to their attraction of high-profile players, trophies and prize money, and challenging course layouts that test all aspects of an urban golfer’s game.

Urban golf is seen by many people as social commentary on the nature of golf and its traditional attitudes. Many would argue (and have) that golfers are pompous, dogmatic and inaccessible to most young people. Urban golf has attempted to re-define a great game that’s got lost in a new culture. It has long been said that the sport of golf needs to broaden its appeal, and that is the precise aim of Urban Golf, or Cross Golf/Street golf as it is also known.

gwsl06-street-golf

Here’s a few FAQ about Urban Golf and the format at the European Golf Cup:

1. The required ball is the Almost Golf Ball, which is made of the same substance as synthetic wine corks. It flies 30 percent of normal distance.
2. A standard group is 9 people, or three teams of three golfers simultaneously competing in scramble, alternate-shot and individual formats.
3. “Golf Save the Queen” was the title of this year’s event in London and every contestant got a T-shirt.
4. You finish a hole in a variety of ways. Common “cups” include hitting the base of a lamp-post, settling a ball onto a drainage grate, or chipping into a bucket.
5. The European Championship had 10 holes plus four “bonus” holes where it’s possible to subtract strokes for hitting a target in one try.
6. Players take a free run at an extra-tricky ‘bonus hole’ to subtract strokes from their overall score.
7. Rules officials ensure that all competitors negotiate hazards similarly.
8. Guillaume Le Mevel of France was the 2015 Individual champion.

2014 European Urban Golf Cup

You don’t see a lot of pro golfers play Urban Golf, let alone even mention it. One of the few exceptions is Rickie Fowler (no surprise). Fowler has participated in a series of Urban Golf events over the years as part of his longstanding relationship with RedBull. Both Rickie and RedBull hope these types of stunts will draw a younger and more relatable crowd of players to the game.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 3.30.54 PM Not all golf traditionalists are supportive of Rickie and Urban Golf

“I have done some crazy stuff with Red Bull, but this is by far the craziest. I got some good wedge practice in today. I won’t see a harder shot in the tourney this week at Colonial.” – Fowler, 2013.

Rickie Fowler Urban Golf Shootout, 2013

Whether or not you’ve heard of Urban Golf, support it or think it’s just some passing fad, there’s no mistaking that it’s becoming more and more popular around the globe, especially among younger generations of millennials pushing up against traditional cultural norms.

Should you care about Urban Golf? That’s entirely up to you. But why not grab eight buddies (or as many as you can find) and at least give it a shot? There are worse ways to spend a summer weekend than with friends playing golf and drinking a few beers. That point we can all agree on.

More Reading

1. European Urban Golf Cup website
2. European Urban Golf Cup YouTube page
3. Urban Golf Wikipedia
4. UK Urban Golf website
5. France Wins European Urban Golf Cup