On a recent visit to arty, trendy Shoreditch in London’s East End I happened upon something special called Junkyard Golf. Thanks to Liv and the staff for giving me a guided tour around one of the fastest growing leisure outlets in the UK. It was impressive how busy it was for a weekday and the complete diversity of people coming in to play. There were a lot of women there. Some on dates, several in hen parties, a family of three generations of women celebrating the youngest member’s 21st birthday. And what was interesting was how engaged they all were with the activity. The security staff were vigilant and present but there wasn’t a hint of rowdiness or drunkenness even though there was a busy bar serving cocktails and mocktails, beers, soft drinks, fast food and snacks.
There were three courses to play of varying difficulty. Shrieks of laughter and chatter but it was lively and buzzy and pleasant. Several large groups of workmates from nearby businesses were sitting talking together waiting for their slot to play and well dressed businessmen from the city of London came in together during their lunch break. It gave them recreation, something to do away from their workplace, devices and social media in the middle of their working day a time out to refresh their minds and that is a valuable mental health reason. This type of golf can be played quickly and can be fitted into a break in the working day as the venue is right in the heart of many businesses and workplaces. As a night time venue it is very popular as the team work up theme nights, Halloween and Glitter Ball dress up nights were sell outs.The Valentines Night promotion was very popular and Junkyard Golf decided to donate the £30,000 takings to its designated charity Love Support Unite which raises funds for education, health care and skills training in Malawi. All the venues in London, Liverpool, Oxford, Leeds and Manchester also sell popular Mega Love Specs which turn every light into a rainbow filter of love hearts useful again for festivals gigs and parties. Every penny from the sale of this product goes to Love Support Unite.
Apart from being entertainment even skilful golfers have found Junkyard Golf interesting. The best and most effective way to lower your handicap is to improve your putting and Junkyard Golf’s challenges make improving this less boring. The city venues are easily accessible for regular golfers to come in and practice and improve their stroke.
Junkyard Golf was started by two young entrepreneurs as a pop up business and has grown to venues in five cities but has so much potential as a leisure outlet that I think every town should have one. The courses are basically full of old tat such as burnt out cars, auto junk and things from the scrapyard for you to play out of. In London there are four courses which all need creative thinking – Pablo is a polluted jungle with skulls of failed players and creepy forest animals, Bozo has scary clowns, a hall of mirrors and is a nasty old circus Bruce is about the movies and Gary is about garage it has 90s grunge music playing and a lot of scrapyard items to navigate. The halfway hut of each nine hole course is a photo booth which can send a gif of you posing to your mobile phone.
It’s golf – but not as we know it.