Urban golf was created in California in 1999 by Brian Jerome Peterson with the idea to move the elitist sport from the carefully designed golf courses into the urban reality and at the same time save on time, travel and fees.
The game is played on a large outdoor course located in a non-residential area of the city, with a series of targets spaced wide apart. The goal of the game is to propel a ball (a tennis ball or soft and light, conventional golf ball) with the use of various clubs towards each target with as few strokes as possible. Targets can be large (statues, benches, flower tubs, dumpster) or small (grids, traffic signs, etc.).
Urban golf is played on any surface encountered during the course of the game, unfrequented streets, bridges, public gardens and parks, university campuses, (abandoned) industrial sites, but also, depending on the region where it is played meadows, fields, gravel pits, rivers, etc. Actually, the game is played just anywhere, except on a conventional golf course. That is why in some countries it is also referred to as cross golf (Belgium, Switzerland, Germany) or street golf. Strictly speaking urban golf refers to golf played in an urban environment with lots of concrete and few natural elements or textures, but the larger definition of crossgolf also includes mountain golf (golf played around moutain villages) under this term.
While urban golf may seem extravagent to purists, it does in fact grasp back to the fundamental principles of golf, as golf was originally a cross-country game played on unstructured linksland, not on planned spaces especially designed for the sport. Over the centuries our landscape evolved from largely rural to urban, so following the same logic of playing on 'natural' courses as they occur, urban golf utilizes the scenery of our modern cities. Natural sand and water hazards have been replaced by 'islands' and parked cars.
Rules of Urban golf are as strict as (if not stricter than) in conventional golf. General rude behavior, any form of vandalism or destruction of property are condemned and not part of the urban golf philosophy. Urban golfers play away from the residential areas and show respect for people's privacy and property.
Most urban golfers prefer drivers with low numbers, i.e. with less loft to prevent the ball from gaining too much altitude and ultimately getting lost on roofs or over fences. A wedge is optional, for example to play the ball out of sand or over a wall. A tee and shag can be used throughout the game. For night games flashlights are allowed. The first urban golfers in the US used golf balls, but more and more urban golfers use almostGOLF balls, a light and soft golf ball especially designed to play and exercise safely off-course. De almostGOLF ball weighs 13.50 grams (as compared to 46 grams of a conventional golf ball) and flies half as far, but otherwise it reacts in much the same way as a regular golf ball.
Urban golfers also have their own terminology: rock 'n' hole philosophy, drive-in range, etc.
In the US, urban golf is played in Portland (Or), San Diego, Chicago and St Peterburg (Fl). Outside the US you can find Urban golfers in Caldas da Rainha (Portugal), Paris and Bordeaux (France), Newcastle, New South Wales (Australia), Utrecht (Netherlands) and in Poland, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany.