Without really knowing it, Alan Shepard was the first master of the game of street golf. On February 7, 1971, this member of Apollo 14 whipped out a 6 iron in the middle of the moon exploration and gave it two swings on our satellite. The more earth bound street golf that we know today was born in Germany at the start of the 90’s.
Golf may project an image particular to a group of elite people, but street golf, well this is the more rough and tumble version. It’s a sport that cultivates a free spirit where your imagination is the limit. Trash cans and fountains become the holes, while the benches, barriers, and street lamps transform into bunkers. Big, smooth spaces serve as the cleanly cut greens. The sidewalks are the fearsome roughs. As for the scoring, it’s the same rules as golf and mini-golf.
In practice, two clubs are enough to play street golf: an iron to take care of the long distances and a sand wedge to lift the ball in short distances. Important detail: the balls used in street golf are feather light compared to the traditional ones. Equally important is security! You need not fear, street golf balls do not damage cars nor do they break windows.
The first Brussels Street Golf Contest will take place Saturday, May 24, 2014. Beginners are more than welcome!
BrusselsLife tried street golf
In front of the Notre-Dame church in the Sablon, a man is pacing back and forth. He’s got a relaxed stride, and a backpack decorated with a golf club. This is definitely the guy I’m supposed to be meeting! We start chatting, and Damien brings me towards one of the holes that he thought up for the Brussels Street Golf Contest.
We are beneath a porch on Rue des Petits Carmes. The objective is simple: hit the flower pot sitting at the bottom of a two flights of stairs on the other side of the sidewalk. Damien, originally from Brittany, pulls a beer cap out of his pocket to use as a tee.
I let him go first. His ball disappears below the first flight of stairs. My turn… Beginner’s luck, my ball takes off, crosses the street, and settles in the stairs as well. The flower pot is already in view. Some curious people passing by slow down to observe the scene.
The second stroke proves to be complicated. My ball disappears under a parked 4 by 4. The rules say I can bring it out one club’s length in whatever direction, except towards the hole. I find myself on the sidewalk about a half a meter from the target. Damien, who hasn’t wavered from the street, sends a beautiful ball towards the pot and touches it. I do the same on the next stroke.
We walk for a couple of minutes hashing out the last hole, and we are already at the second hole. The ball is precariously placed on a cobblestone in a small street parallel to the Sablon that I didn’t know about. The hole? The arc of the circle 100 meters further down. Damien gives me a bonus challenge to hit the street lamp in the center. This time I win, without the bonus though. Damien promises to get revenge during our next meeting at the Brussels Street Golf Contest. Challenge taken.
Photos : Nicolas Gerkens