Gorilla Golf Blog’s Urban Golf Special - Part 1: What exactly is Urban Golf?

Rickie Fowler plays it, keen golfers across campuses in the US play it and there are now organised tournaments across the globe for it, but urban golf is still very much an unknown entity to many golfing fanatics.

Welcome to the first in a three-part series that looks exclusively at the phenomenon that is urban golf. In this special trio of articles, we examine what the game actually is, how it came into being, how it is played, what the rules of the game are, where it is played across the world and also at some of the surprise names who have played the game. Finally, we’ll look to the future and look at how urban golf could have a positive impact in attracting more people play the wonderful game of golf – or not!

What do we mean by ‘urban golf’?

Urban golf is a version of the game that is played away from the traditional lush greenery of parkland or the sandy expanses of links courses. Instead, the game is played in urban areas and to a flexible (and frequently arbitrary) set of rules.

Now, before anybody draws breath and imagines the somewhat worrying prospect of a group of golfers teeing up their Titleist ProV1’s while getting their drivers ready to smash their ball down a busy city street, it is important to note that for all versions of urban golf, safety and consideration of others are key issues. So it is important to dispel such notions from the mind.

The essence of urban golf is that players use the unique challenges of their immediate urban environment to play a version of golf that is best described as a cross between ‘traditional’ and crazy golf. All aspects of the environment, be it roadways, pathways, gutters, lampposts, trees, hills, cobbles and even fences can be integrated as part of a hole.

Urban golf-ball-in-the-gutter

It is important to note here that a ‘hole’ in urban golf is not a literal meaning. In urban golf, many items can play the role of the ‘hole’, the only limit being the imagination of the golfer. A post set in concrete, a chalk mark on the floor or even just a patch of bare earth in the distance can all serve as the target for any hole.

Other than those considerable differences, the game progresses as normal golf would. Players aim to get the ball to hit their target in the fewest amount of shots possible. The shots taken on each hole are added up between competitors and the winner is the competitor that takes the fewest amounts of shots in total.


How was the game developed?

Wikipedia, reveals that young people, who sought an alternative to having to pay expensive fees or wear non-hip gear to play golf on private courses, invented the game. Some attribute the recent development of the game to a Californian named Brian Jerome Paterson, who developed a rudimentary version of the game in 1999. Up until then, the game was viewed very much as a ‘drinking game’ with holes played from one pub to the next. Certainly, in its formative years the game owed its popularity to its links to drinking although it has developed significantly from these roots since Mr Paterson formulated his version.


While that may be true of the modern game, records suggest that the game may well have been played as far back as 1741, when a Mr Duncan Thomas played his own version of the game, teeing off outside the White Hart Inn in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland!

Urban golf has grown markedly in popularity since then, especially in the United States where many famous colleges have their own urban golf society and even have their own urban golf courses on campus.  In the UK, the first UK Urban Golf open was held in London in 2005.

In the early days, the game was viewed as being a reaction to the rather staid and stuffy atmosphere of private golf club membership, which is often believed to have many rules and regulations that seem to preclude many people playing. Urban golf was set up so that anybody could pick up a golf club and play the game, regardless of where they were, how much money they had or what clothes they were wearing.


It sounds likely that you could end up damaging your golf equipment or your property (or somebody else’s…), does this happen?

Not really, The key aspect to remember about urban golf is that it is non-invasive. It is about using the urban environment sensibly to give the player a new set of golfing challenges and a chance to practice golfing skills in a meaningful, innovative and entertaining way.

In our next article we’ll take a look at some of the specialised equipment and the places that courses or holes are designed in to ensure that no damage is caused either to your equipment, the community or other people’s property. We’ll also investigate some of the (few) rules that exist in the game and how the game is played differently across the globe.

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If you enjoyed this post please leave us your comment below

Phil_Byatt November 2, 2011

Golf is very exciting sports if you’ll just understand the concept of the game,but I just hope in the near future it will be more accessible even if you only have less money. kid left handed golf clubs


Tommy Priest November 13, 2011

We agree! Thanks for your comment.


Richie January 31, 2016

Urban golf!! that is something meaningful I think . Specially to attract the new generation to this classic game. i don’t find anything wrong if there are a flexibility in rules and regulation. I think it will do good for the game ultimately !