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Friday, October 24, 2008

This Is What Happens When You Play In the Street

posted by on October 24 at 15:48 PM

The Seattle Urban Golf league has apparently been dissolved and several golfers may face criminal charges after a bystander was hit with a foam golf ball during a drunken game of golf on Capitol Hill over the weekend.

Seattle Urban Golf has been around for about three years. Participants bring their own putters and swat foam golf balls through the streets in a 9-hole course, drawn with chalk. Each hole is conveniently located near a bar.


During this weekend’s event, police were called to Boylston and Pine around 8 pm after a golfer struck a bystander with a foam golf ball. The golfer has since posted a lengthy apology on Craigslist.

I was playing my way to the final hole, in the street between the BMW
dealership and the mini-mart on Boylston.

My swing was good and connected squarely with the ball, and for the first time that outing I got some decent loft - unfortunately my technique was far from perfect
and it began to hook. My ball flew over an obstacle and hit a man on a cell phone squarely in the face!

I was embarrassed, and flustered, and, since it was nearly the last
hole, I may have been a bit hasty in my reaction. I offered to pay for
any medical bills, but apparently this was taken as sarcasm.

According to Eric, one of the golfers who was arrested, at least four squad cars showed up after the man called 911, and police rounded up about 20-30 golfers.
“I was just putting my way down the sidewalk when a bunch of police cruisers swept in,” he says.

Eric—who asked that we not publish his last name—was not involved in the golf ball “assault,” but he says he was arrested for obstruction after he refused to show an officer ID—earlier today, a Tacoma judge ruled that refusing to show ID is not a crime. At the precinct, Eric says he saw two other golfers in holding cells. He was released after about two hours.

This isn’t the first time Seattle Urban Golfers have gotten in trouble. Eric says police were called to an event in Georgetown last year after someone hit a car with a golf ball.
Still, Eric says, golfers try to play safe.

“Yes people get good and drunk but there’s a pretty major emphasis on don’t jaywalk, don’t block traffic, don’t piss off the neighbors, always use foam balls and plan on having a safe ride home,” Eric says “[But] there’s a credible effort to mitigate the recipe for disaster that is 100 drunks wandering around Capitol Hill with golf clubs.”

Eric has contacted the ACLU and will be filing a complaint with SPD’s Office of Professional Accountability.

“I think [this is] a predictable lesson in what happens when you get a large group of people together to drink, swing golf clubs and walk around the neighborhood together,” Eric says.

RSS icon Comments


Okay, personal safety and all that, but freaking out over being "hit" with something not much denser than a ball of cotton is well - maybe freaking out a bit too much?

Posted by COMTE | October 24, 2008 3:53 PM

You have got to be kidding me.

I saw these guys during the summer was was stricken with a desire to join em.

Really, getting hit with a foam ball requires 911 and 4 squad cars?...REALLY?

Someone needs to pull that putter out of their urethra.

Posted by Jeremy from Seattle | October 24, 2008 3:58 PM

So the entire city is now a fraternity house? Douchebags.

Posted by Fnarf | October 24, 2008 4:01 PM

So were they your basic frat boys or more the ironically slumming counterculture types?

When you add up the skaters, the golfers and the naked people, there does seem to be a basic kind of clue that they all seem to be missing. Like they swear up and down how harmless they are, yet by some improbably string of rotten, rotten luck they manage to drag in unwilling participants. Why is that?

Posted by elenchos | October 24, 2008 4:06 PM

You know what I find more offense than people playing golf/skate boarding/being naked and having a good time? Mindless drones ambling back and forth from work to home to wherever-the-fuck, and get their panties in a twist because of other people enjoying themselves.

Guess what? You're fucking attitude, briefcase, and cheap suit annoys me exactly as much as skateboarders annoy you, but I'm not going to call the cops on you, dumbshit.

Posted by J | October 24, 2008 4:15 PM

So a guy walking aimlessly by talking on a cell phone got in the face with a FOAM golf ball?

This is not a crime, this is poetic justice.

I guess Douchebag on Douchebag crime is on the rise?

Posted by Some Guy | October 24, 2008 4:18 PM


Thank you, that answers my question perfectly. You equate being smacked in the head with being "annoyed." And that is the missing clue.

Posted by elenchos | October 24, 2008 4:19 PM

Well I think being smacked in the head by a foam ball is, in the vast majority of cases, very funny, and in other cases, a minor annoyance, and in the most extreme cases probably stings a little. I think calling the cops and having somebody (or 20 people) arrested for that is the missing clue.

Posted by J | October 24, 2008 4:24 PM

This sort of reminds me of Monty Python's hand to hand combat with fruit sketch. But Sargeant shouldn't we be in the CD, you know fighting crime. Don't be silly, here's how you apprehend someone armed with a foam golfball.

Posted by kinaidos | October 24, 2008 4:26 PM

Everytime I hear Gil Kerlikowske on a radio talk show he laments the shortage of his police resources. Yet four squad cars show up for this?

I guess if it takes three units to deal with the average plastered hobo, one more is justified here due to the heightened danger of foam projectiles.

Posted by Free Lunch | October 24, 2008 4:35 PM

God I hate golf. That said, who the hell calls the cops for this?

Posted by Dougsf | October 24, 2008 4:39 PM

Most of the attendees are just Seattlites who enjoy a good time. A big chunk of them are hackers - professionals in the security industry. Our team got stopped by the biggest douchebag of a young 20 something year old police officer. He basically said if you are wearing argyle your ass is going to jail.


He held about 7 of us on the sidewalk until he checked our IDs for outstanding warrants and took two of them downtown and then released them after harassing them for about 20 minutes claiming they hit someone with a club. Most of our team was from out of town attending a conference.

The question is: there really was no where else, in a city that is supposedly short on cops, where four squad cars could be patrolling or responding to more important matters?

Seattle is losing its fun and being taken over by a bunch of pricks.

Posted by seattle98104 | October 24, 2008 4:49 PM

Lame. We have, what, 8 gigantic golf courses in Seattle proper and about 10,000 in the suburbs? That's a lot different than skate parks (one tiny one) and nudist parks (zero). I'm all for calling the cops on frat douchebags taking over Capitol Hill.

Posted by jrrrl | October 24, 2008 4:53 PM

It's not frat douchebags. Stop pretending you know shit.

Posted by seattle98104 | October 24, 2008 4:56 PM

I strongly recommend that Eric reads up on Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada. The US Supreme Court ruled in this case that an ID is not required to be shown if you state your name in a state that has stop-and-identify laws. Washington is not a stop-and-identify state, and there is no law that requires you to even give your name to police officers if you are not involved in a Terry stop.

Since this does not appear to be a Terry stop when the obstruction charge was levied, I can guess the next couple of events that are going to occur:

1. The prosecuting attorney is going to realize that there is no case and that the charges will be dismissed if taken to court.
2. The prosecuting attorney will contact the police department, and they will *offer* to dismiss the charges if Eric signs a contract that says that he won't sue them for false arrest.
3. If Eric accepts, then the case is done. If not, the prosecuting attorney will bring this to trial just to put pressure on Eric (via lawyers fees) to sign the contract.

If Eric is wise, he will contact a civil rights lawyer since it was a false arrest and unlawful search. And since it was a violation of his civil rights, he will be able to recoup lawyers fees if he brings it to trial.

Posted by bzishi | October 24, 2008 4:58 PM

Sorry. Wannabe frat douchebags.

Posted by jrrrl | October 24, 2008 4:58 PM

It sounds like fun. I'm sorry I missed it. The real douchebags are SPD.

Posted by DOUG. | October 24, 2008 5:16 PM
I wholeheartedly apologize to all urban golfers, the organizers, and the community of Capitol Hill, especially any golfers who were taken in by police, or had clubs confiscated, or will be simply be denied the right to peaceably assemble to meet new and interesting people and play golf-like activities in the future.

i have an idea, how about peaceably assembling and playing golf-like activities in a GOLF COURSE? when you peaceably assemble at cal anderson do you notice the people with social skills playing tennis and dodgeball and frisbee and hackeysack and basketball in places that aren't in the middle of the fucking street? you know, like normal people learned to do when they were 4?

ugh. we need the city to publish a pamphlet listing basic social skills for some of the tech workers around here.

Posted by douchebagdar | October 24, 2008 5:36 PM

These guys aren't exactly the brightest orbs in the alt-sports universe. What would they expect doing this in the early evening, on crowded Capitol Hill?

Though the idea of urban golf -- like impromptu dodgeball -- sounds cool, perhaps they need a new venue.

Maybe a more controlled environment would help. I suggest trying coconut shot putting on rush-hour Metro buses.

Posted by blackhook | October 24, 2008 5:39 PM

Try this in New York and you're going to need a gastroenterologist to get that golf club out.

Posted by Fnarf | October 24, 2008 5:55 PM

Seems more like they'd be more comfortable at Burning Man rather than a golf course. Cause they're so creative and, like, out there.

Anyway, I love this whole story. The guy who went out and acted like a drunken frat boy and then got miffed when somebody called him a drunken frat boy makes it all particularly special. "Dude, I was ironically acting like a frat row dudebro! It's totally different."

You might be a hipster, my friend.

But I have a serious question. Since calling the cops is so uncool, how do you get 20 drunk guys to stop hitting foam golf balls at people? Ask nicely? Would that have worked?

Posted by elenchos | October 24, 2008 6:01 PM
Posted by DOUG. | October 24, 2008 6:10 PM

BZISHI and Jonah are both off point. The cases they reference have nothing to do with investigations where a crime has occurred, they deal with people acting suspiciously. Not only that, it takes a lot more than politely not showing ID to end up arrested. One of the dangerous parts of sounding off on incidents you know little or nothing about.

Lesson- unless you were there and sober, keep your trap shut.

Posted by bzishi corrector | October 24, 2008 6:32 PM

@22: I was not referring to the playing of golf but the striking of unsuspecting passersby.

Posted by Fnarf | October 24, 2008 6:45 PM

I remember when these douchebags invaded the Redwood and the old Kincora about 4 years ago. And they got all mad when they got kicked out for throwing glass pints around. I have gotten kicked out of bars for way less(and more at times). I have no sympathy for you douchebag yuppies.


Posted by **** | October 24, 2008 6:52 PM

Oh give me a break. What lawyer will take a case where someone was hit by a nerf ball?

I'm on the golfer's side on this. You anti-golfers are a bunch of grumpy old hipsters.

And can we please get more variety in our insults? The douche references are getting tedious. How about some enema references, or maybe something having to do with spittoons?

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | October 24, 2008 7:49 PM

Excuse me, Ms. Vel-DuRay but "hipster" is the most generic, overused insult there is. I'm going to have to give up saying it altogether because it seems to be all things to all people. Definitely, douche needs to go, you're right about that, but hipster is useless too. So is yuppie, I fear, and probably frat boy too.

Anyway, I contend that these drunk urban golfer dudes were being ironic, which is kind of hipsterish, if one were to still use that term. But the main issue is trying to distance yourself from your own behavior under cover of irony. Not cool.

The principle of personal space is universal. It transcends whether you're grumpy, old, young, hip, douchey or not. Personal space should be respected, and nerf or no nerf, you don't violate it.

And I still want to know how you get these 20 drunks to quit other than calling the cops.

Posted by elenchos | October 24, 2008 8:00 PM

That's MRS Vel-DuRay, elenchos. Save your "Ms" for the NOW meeting.

Fair enough on the criticism. Although I didn't really mean "hipster" as an insult. Grumpy - yes, old - maybe, hipster - no.

I actually kind of think of everyone on the slog - myself included - as a hipster in the generic sense. I would assume that as a group we are more "hip" than the people who comment on the Times or the P-I, or even that other weekly's site. (I simply can NOT remember the name of that paper)

But, in the spirit of neighborliness, slogginess, and Christian Fellowship I will amend my original statement to read thus: "You anti-golfers are a bunch of grumpy old sloggers."

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | October 24, 2008 8:33 PM

And I will amend mine to read "Enema bags", as per instructions. It does not pay to get on the wrong side of Mrs. Vel-DuRay.

I also have an extensive line of "colostomy bag" references, but these fellows don't seem THAT bad. Just mildly annoying. I think it's the outfit in the picture.

Posted by Fnarf | October 24, 2008 8:38 PM


I am the Eric who got arrested.

I'm a civil-rights enthusiast, if there is such a thing; I knew Hiibel before this whole thing went down. I was surprised when Officer Elll (as in L.) threatened me with an unlawful arrest, and I was doubly surprised when he carried it out after I stood my ground.

To the rest of you,

If being accepted amongst frat boys was a simple matter of getting shitty drunk, a lot of the golfers would have grown up to be much less cool as adults.

Posted by Eric Arrr | October 24, 2008 10:43 PM

So what if they were drunken frat douchebags? That still doesn't mean that calling the cops was necessary for some guy getting hit with a fucking foam ball. Someone needs to grow some balls, some golfers need learn some manners (or at least how to fake an good apology), and some cops need to learn how to deescalate some shit instead of wasting time & precious state moolah.

Posted by anonymous | October 25, 2008 12:00 AM

oh my god, i wish my town had this game!

Posted by d | October 25, 2008 9:09 AM

I think if I got whacked in the face with a nerf golf ball I would be pissed but generally amused if the golfer were apologetic, non-sloppyshitfaced and of good cheer. But players shouldmn't expect everyone walking down the street to be tolerant if their drunken fun is threatening to hit them (or their kids or grandmothers) in the eye with a flying projectile. And they shouldn't act like some kind of victim if they draw attention from overreacting cops.

Edgy, scofflaw fun can be a naughty pleasure, but part of the cosmic deal with the edge is that it's possible to fall off. That said, see you at the next tee!

Posted by CDres | October 25, 2008 10:31 AM

From a couple of statements people have made, it sounds like there is the mistaken impression that people were deliberately trying to hit people with these balls.

"how do you get 20 drunk guys to stop hitting foam golf balls at people?"

The answer is that no one had to because that isn't what was going on. We were hitting little foam balls down the sidewalk and through parking lots while going from bar to bar on a themed pub crawl, and being pretty damn friendly to everybody we met, in the bars and on the street. That's it. Fun. Friendly.

I've participated in two of these events, and in both cases the people involved represented a fairly diverse mix of backgrounds. You can condescendingly apply one of the yuppie/frat boy/hipster/etc. labels to the group, but it just tells me that you don’t know anyone involved. At least make the effort to view it from both sides. Haven’t you ever bumped into someone when you weren’t looking where you were going? If you hadn’t apologized, would it have been a matter for the police?

It hasn't been mentioned that the guy that got hit with the ball was verbally abusive afterwards. Apparently “douchebag” is one of his favorite words. I could see how he could have been pissed off, especially if he was already having a bad day. But seriously, apology or no, calling 911? Really?

I imagine that the large number of cops that showed up was to make sure that things didn’t get out of hand with a potentially large group of people. I sure hope that no one else was in real need of assistance while they responded to this guy’s claims that he had been assaulted.

Posted by Llamas | October 25, 2008 10:48 AM

So the next time you guys do this, are you still going to act surprised when it turns to shit again?

Because it's actually not an accident that somebody got hit; it was going to happen. It's also not extraordinary that the person getting hit, even with a nerf ball, got pissed off. Sooner or later, you're going to hit somebody who will take it badly. And even you seem to dimly grasp that a crowd of 20 drunks necessitates a large police response. That's how it is; that's how it's going to be every time.

Yet none of this is your own fault and you'll fight tooth and nail every step of the way rather than take responsibly. You supposedly give a shit about wasting police resources, but that's all somebody else's fault, not your own.

I wonder why frat boys are so despised? What a mystery life is, isn't it?

Posted by elenchos | October 25, 2008 11:10 AM

I think Sheriff Andy would have handled this incident much better.

Posted by Steven Bradford | October 25, 2008 4:02 PM

This guy was just embarassed and a little pansy ass. I guess I'm glad I left at the 7th hole. What a fun day! Sorry it ended with a smuck spoiling it with his pitiful little wining to mommy.

Posted by Oi | October 26, 2008 2:09 PM

You've got to be kidding me! The balls they use are intentionally soft. Even at full speed they don't hurt. Calling 911 was excessive.

The clubs on the other hand, are something to watch out for. I wasn't quick enough to dodge a drunk girl's swing in Spring's Urban Golf tournament...lucky for my hand it was a wood not an iron.

Posted by Marcy | October 26, 2008 4:15 PM

No one called a waahhhhmbulance?

Posted by Toast | October 27, 2008 11:41 AM

I think Llamas spells it out pretty clearly. This wasn't about some frat boy, hipster, douche guy f'ing around and trying to hit people. Urban golf, is hardly anything like 'real golf' at all. Most people had one single club, or possibly a hockey stick, or a broom, or a mallet with which they hit a little soft nerf ball approximately 20 feet at a time over a 50-75 foot 'hole'. These 'holes' were located off of the streets in alleyways, parking lots, etc. Most of us dressed up in some sort of crazy/funny/cool costume and had a good time with it. Maybe there were some frat boys amongst us, and there were techies, and hippies, and your every working person out there all just trying to have a good time.

Should we feel sorry for the fact that the cops were called? No. Just as with any circumstance with alcohol, you have to know how to have fun without getting brought down by 'the man'. Was the guy who got 'hit' by a golf ball a douche? Probably so. I didn't see the incident, just the result. I then avoided a run in by 'conspicuously' walking down another street with my golf club in hand and beer hat on my head. I then laid down my golf club behind a dumpster and took off my hat and walked by the area where the cops were detaining people. It sounded to me like the cops were being a little to harsh on those detained and I didn't really hear any citizen being a loud mouth back to the cops.

Anyway, I played 8 holes, drank my ass off, had a great time, didn't get into any trouble, and made some fun new friends. I'm sad to see that this event is shut down because it had a lot of flavor and flair. I'll also be sad to not get to wear my beer mug hat again.

For all you haters, if you didn't experience this event, then you really shouldn't make comment.

Posted by Beer Hat | October 28, 2008 11:21 AM

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