Hot off the Press

Well we have been getting some local press as many around these parts have seen.  For those who are elsewhere I present to you the article done about urban golfing in the largest regional newspaper The Chronicle-Herald by one of our Founders (as he duly golfed with us for the article) Jason “Scribbles” Teakle:

Urban golf’s a ball

Halifax man finds relaxation with a different kind of winter driving

By JASON TEAKLE Sat. Feb 6 – 4:54 AM

If you’re ready to throw out your old golf clubs, try teeing off in the middle of your street using a tennis ball and a nine-iron that has seen better days.

Jason Pelley, 31, has been hitting the pavement, shooting sparks with every strike of his club, while receiving smiles or looks of shock from people all over Halifax.

His game is called urban golf, and it’s quickly emerging as a new way to use public space for having fun for free in Canadian cities.

“Halifax is such a university city, so people are very tolerant of and used to weird or wild things happening here,” says Pelley. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people riding bicycles naked or people just getting rowdy here.”

Pelley walks through downtown Halifax with an off-white canvas bag full of clubs and tennis balls slung over his shoulder. He takes out an iron, puts down a tennis ball spray-painted neon orange on the asphalt and looks down an alleyway.

This will be the first hole of the day’s concrete course.

He takes a full swing and the tennis ball flies through the air, bounces off a building wall and lands in the middle of the fairway — or road.

There are no sand traps or water hazards. Only moving vehicles, pedestrians and houses.

Pelley says he spoke to Halifax Regional Police about the legality of the game, and their response was positive since there are no laws against golfing in public with tennis balls, only golf balls.

“We’ll use that Dumpster as the hole,” he says, pointing to a green waste bin at the end of the alley behind businesses on Spring Garden Road.

Pelley says the idea for urban golf started when he was in high school while playing a game of road hockey with friends. They went for a walk with their hockey sticks and began shooting a ball down the street, aiming at trees, fire hydrants or road signs.

Last year, over the Christmas season, the urban golfer was staying at his parents’ Dartmouth home with a little time on his hands and dug out an old set of clubs.

“I thought, ‘There’s really no reason why I shouldn’t hit the streets,’ ” says Pelley. “Once you start gunning (a tennis ball) down the street, it really opens up a whole other element of fun.”

He said it took him two weeks to convince a friend to try it.

“Once he came out the first time, he was addicted after that,” Pelley says. “Now there is a group of about 40 of us in the city who are regulars.”

He says that once he started an urban golf blog, his friends in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and London, England, started swinging in their city streets.

“I wouldn’t say I invented the game, but I’m one of the first people that really took a liking to it,” Pelley says.

The urban golf enthusiast says there are three main rules to the sport. The first is respect, which he says includes never hitting a ball less than three club lengths away from a vehicle and never harming private property.

The second is everybody sucks, meaning it’s not about taking the game seriously or being competitive. The third is don’t be a control freak, meaning it’s difficult to hit a tennis ball straight every time, so nobody is allowed to get irritated if not playing well.

Pelley says the sport is about building community, meeting new people, having fun and enjoying the city in a different way, and the group is always looking for new people to come out and try the sport.

“The nature of cities has to change in terms of the way people interpret them as places you just work in or drive through,” he says.

Pelley’s blog can be found at hfxurbangolf.wordpress.com.

Thank you to Jason “Scribbles” for both the story and for hitnround with us the other day.

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3 Responses to “Hot off the Press”

  1. My friends and I had a great time on Sunday trying out Urban Golf for the first time in our little town. We read the article in the Chronicle Herald, and were looking for something to do. It was good fun. We brought lots of smiles to passers by and everyone was interested about it. We had one little incident which didn’t affect us too much, an apology was given. We played for a good two hours. Unfortunately, out local police hadn’t read the article, nor did they know anything about Urban Golf so they stopped us and informed us that we could be fined for traffic disturbance. We were disappointed but hope we can play again after we send along a letter to inform them about how well it is being received in other communities. Any suggestions about what we could say in our letter? Thanks for the fun.

    • I am glad you are taking up the sport in your home town. I am also really happy that you had so much fun and want to continue playing despite the little hiccups (w/ the police).

      Pelley will answer will answer with more detail about how to properly express the game to the police than I but it all boils down to respect. Let them aware that you and you fellow players will yield to traffic, be considerate to the noise by-laws, and most importantly to your community. You do this with your community and through the game your getting to know your own town/city better. Its about being active and having fun. Personally I love the fact that we don’t need more land or green fees to play the game of golf; we just need old clubs and tennis balls.

  2. First let me say that I am sitting in Vancouver right now fresh off a night after being removed for urban golfing at an Olympic venue and your comment has me more excited than the games that I came here to watch.

    If you want to drop me a line at swinginghalifax@gmail.com with some more details I would be happy to lay out a strategy of police engagement based on my experiences thus far.

    I was able to talk my way out of further trouble tonight and didn’t even lose my clubs so I am beginning to think I have a knack for this sort of thing.

    It is about time we I put together some sort of a “do it yourself” package for starting up urban golf crews.

    Thanks Robert and keep on hitnround; we’ll get this sorted out together.

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