Have a great time, don’t break anything!
While in Portland, we had the opportunity to play Urban Golf. If you don’t know what Urban Golf is, here is some info found from the PDX Urban Golf Facebook page.
I don’t remember exactly how we came across Urban Golf, but it was probably during my many Google searches of “most unique golf course”, or something of that nature. But, for many in the know, you might remember seeing Mr Erik Anders Lang playing ‘UG’ during one of the coolest episodes of Adventures in Golf. A few more Google searches and I came across Mr Scotty Mazariegos.
I think we probably first contacted Scotty at least 5 months before we even travelled to Portland, which might give you an indication of exactly how excited we were to play here!
As the day approached, the weather forecast started to indicate a possible snow shower. Now, if you have ever been to Portland during the winter, you might know something about the craziness that happens when there is even the remotest possibility of snow! Simply put, the news absolutely obsesses over the threat, and reports on it 24/7. “I’m reporting from the West Hills where I interviewed a man walking his dog who talked to his neighbour that said that they might have seen a snowflake in the morning. Back to you in the studio Bob.” Snowmaggedon indeed!
Anyway, knowing this, I dropped Scotty a note to inquire if the game for Saturday was still on. Not only was it still on, but he wrote back that he was hoping to be able to play in the snow! After a couple seconds to let the thought sink in, we were aligned with him in our prayers for a white urban golf day!
And sure enough, against all odds, we woke to snow on the ground, and it felt like Christmas morning all over again! We dressed in warm-ish clothes, packed our stuff into the Mini, and carefully made our way into Portland.
The day’s meeting point was McMenamins White Eagle. No sooner did we open the door were we warmly greeted by Scotty himself. He even presented an awesome gift for us- an adidas Golf Open jacket!
If you know a little bit about this type of golf, you know that Scotty IS Urban Golf! After chatting a little about basically his founding of game, we learned that he has put together 22 different courses in the Portland area. And today’s course was the original, the PDX UG NoPo Course (Portland local slang for North Portland). Now, to better set the scene, we were basically about to play golf on the Old Course, with the Old Tom Morris of the Urban Golf world- now how cool is that for our first time!!!
While enjoying some refreshments, we were introduced to our fellow Urban golfers! There were probably 15 in total, and I think they would be honoured to be described as the definition of Keep Portland Weird! Dressed in a mixture of ski wear meets golf wear, including plus fours, the group was a great mix of men and women of all ages.
We selected our club (mine, a Citation 8 iron (we’ve never heard of the brand either) and Menekse’s a rusty but trusty Titleist 7 iron!), marked our balls (tennis balls), picked out our bottle caps (that are used as tees), and got ready for the opening hole.
As we made our way to the first tee, the snow began to pick up pace, and you could feel the excitement of the group in the air. Approaching the first hole, Scotty stopped us in our tracks. A police car was parked nearby. So, as Urban Golf is, we quickly adapted and made our way to the second hole.
Scotty told us that having conversations with Portland’s Finest is a common affair. So much so that they all know Scotty! Their only requirement of the players is to have a great time, and don’t break anything. Golf needs more rules like that!
It is hard to capture in words the emotions that we had as we struck our opening tee shots.
The “greens” are indicated by an X of red duct tape that Scotty tapes to a building door, a telephone pole, a dumpster (our favourites!), or any other such city marker, just prior to playing the hole. Everything was in play- the street, of course, as it doubles as the fairway, sidewalks, everything. You could bank shots off trees, buildings, cars (mistakenly), fences, street signs, and, as we quickly found out, other players. I (James) hit two players, including my beautiful wife (sorry about that honey!!!).
It really started to snow hard on about the 4th hole. This was probably also one of the coolest holes- a dogleg right, surrounded by graffiti, that wraps its way around a building and finishes with a dumpster. This was also one of the quickest greens we experienced hahaha ?
One of the more unique holes was on the school grounds of the Harriet Tubman Middle School. Starting from the playground, we hit up over the fence that surrounds the outdoor basketball court! After making my only par of the day, I tried my hand at attempting to hit the basket from the three-point line. But just like in real basketball, success was not found!
We usually always have fun when we play golf- I mean, why else would we be doing what we’re doing! But I think we both can honestly say, that playing Urban Golf was easily probably the MOST FUN we have ever had playing golf!