Urban golf banned — SIKE!

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FORE! Will urban golf see it’s end? (Photo by Christian Herrera)

Web Blurb: Supposed property damages and disturbances have given rise to rumors that urban golf will be banned. Here are the rumors debunked.

By Christian Herrera

While on a run one day, senior Jennea Thomason saw a student urinating in the woods while he was playing urban golf on the edge of campus.

“When I run my loop, [the urban golfers] are always really nice,” she said. “But there was this one kid– this kid’s gonna have poison ivy, because I know there’s poison ivy in that tree – and he was just out there taking a leak, and all of his friends were across the road laughing at him.”

For years, students throughout Huntington University’s campus have played urban golf – a game derived from the original game of golf – in which individual players or teams hit a tennis ball at a specific target called “holes.” The problem is that the “holes” aren’t exactly holes. Designated targets range from objects such as a door of a campus residence hall to the fountain on the quad.

Because of property damages and distrubances, there are rumors on campus which state that urban golf might be discontinued. The rumors began fall semester  2013 with origins tracing back to the president’s house. Are these rumors true?  Jerry Gressley, Director of Maintenance and Physical Plant, claimed no recorded damages via urban golf.

“The most serious that I am aware of is vehicles being hit by balls,” Gressley said. “And I believe that pedestrians have been concerned, but I am not aware of any complaints.”

Although no complaints, junior and urban golfer Devin Dale acknowledges that the urban golf holes on campus aren’t strategically placed.

“The first hole goes right up the mall,” Dale said, “and a lot of times, there are a lot of people walking by.”

The holes weave through most of the campus. They start by Lake Snowtip and make their ways out to Loew-Brenn. They then weave back towards the fountain and then Wright Hall.

Dale felt, however, that no harm could be done.

“Really, it’s a tennis ball,” Dale said. “It shouldn’t hurt you that bad. And it’s not like you’re gonna hit a tennis ball so hard into a door that it’s gonna shatter.”

Senior Trevor Bortz agreed.

“I feel that the constructive fun it creates outweighs the destruction that comes from it,” Bortz said. “I mean, you’re using tennis balls. The worst that can happen is probably chipping some grass out of the ground.”

Many who heard of the rumors were annoyed that such a plan would even be considered.

“We pay $36,000 a year [as students],” freshman Cody Melin said. “They can deal with it.”

Many others, like Dale, feared a slippery slope effect of other recreational activities like ultimate Frisbee and disc golf if there were to be a ban on urban golf.

“I think it’s hard to justify one thing over the other,” Dale said. “But in my mind, if you get rid of urban golf, you’re gonna have to make a case for why we shouldn’t get rid of other recreational sports. It’s hard for me to distinguish between the two. So I guess if one goes, it’s kind of ominous for the rest of everything else.”

Other students agreed.

“I don’t know why they’re attacking urban golf and not ultimate Frisbee or disc golf,” freshman Josh White said. “They both can inflict the same amount of damage.”

If a ban on urban golf actually took off, one thing is for sure: many students would be dissatisfied.

“I’d be pretty disappointed,” Dale said. “I hold the course record. I’m pretty much a legend.”

The rumor debunked

Sherilyn Emberton, Ed.D., Huntington University’s new president, when asked by a reporter, denied the semester-long rumors of the potential ban on urban golf: urban golf will not be banned, she said.

“For the record,” Emberton said, “I did consider an urban golf course on the exterior of campus instead of the interior. Most of the universities I’ve visited had their courses surrounding the exterior of the campus instead of through the interior of the campus like ours does.”

Although the rumors assumed property damages and complaints reason to ban urban golf, Emberton said that the facts show otherwise.

“When we looked at the statistics,” Emberton said, “there just wasn’t enough reason to ban it. For the most part, students have been extremely responsible.”

Concerning the origins of the rumor, Emberton jokingly pointed across the DC at junior Antonio Castillo.

“He started the rumors!” Emberton said, smiling.

Early in the fall semester, while students were playing urban golf, Emberton jokingly told Antionio Castillo that she planned to ban urban golf. That’s all it took for rumors to spread like wild fire.

Students and maintenance react

Although urban golf won’t be banned, Gressley and students alike believe that this issue should still be addressed. It wasn’t a rumor without reason. Gressley suggested using student senate to voice the concern and opinions regarding safety protocols of urban golf.

A wide array of students proposed different solutions that could serve as promoting safety of property and people — like reestablishing safer golf holes to simply being more aware of others.

“People getting hit is a user error,” Bortz said. “People playing the game need to be careful of their surroundings and [that] the people aren’t in their way. They need to be respectful of the people, and make sure their safety is a priority.”

Thomason believes there is a place for the course if it were used properly.

“The course is awesome,” Thomason said. “It’s fun. And if people would use it the way it’s supposed to be used, there would be no issue. But it’s the half a dozen hooligans that screw around that actually ruin it for the people who would actually use it appropriately.

And that’s where we have issues. Obviously, accidents will happen. That’s just life. But it’s when people are being irresponsible — how do you stem irresponsibility? That’s the big question.”

People might get hit. Lawns could be left patched. Windows might even be broken. Accidents will happen.  However, Thomason does not blame urban golf. She blames the irresponsibility of “hooligans” like the student publically peeing on a tree.

“The issue is not urban golf,” Thomason concluded. “The issue is irresponsible students. You need to do something about the irresponsible students, not urban golf. Kudos to those who do use the urban golf course responsibly and make it more enjoyable for the rest of us.”

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