I don’t remember exactly how we came across Urban Golf, but most likely it was during one of my numerous Google searches of “most unique golf course”, or something of that nature. 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.
We had planned a trip to the weird city, and my hometown of Portland, Oregon for the winter of 2018. I think we first contacted Scotty at least 5 months before we even arrived in Portland, which might give you an indication of exactly how excited we were to play some Urban Golf! We told him our story of how we’re traveling the world playing golf, and how excited we would be to join him for a round. “‘We’d love to have you join us”, he replied. We traded contact info and promised to reach out once we were in town.
You don’t know what Urban Golf is?! Well, here is some info found from their PDX Urban Golf Facebook page.
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 neighbor 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 of 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 PDX UG NoPo Course
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 the 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 (NoPo is 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 honored 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. We marked our balls (tennis balls), picked out our bottle caps (that are used as tees), and got ready for the opening hole.
Have a great time, don’t break anything!
As we made our way to the first tee, the snow began to pick up the pace, and you could feel the excitement of the group in the air. Approaching the first hole, Scotty stopped us in our tracks. There was a police car parked nearby.
Scotty told us that having conversations with Portland’s Finest is a common affair. So much so that they all know Scotty! The squad car rolled down the window, waved at Scotty, and simply said “have a great time, 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 favorites!), 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 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 green. This was also one of the quickest greens we experienced!!!
Our Favorite Urban Golf Hole
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!