Golf. It’s not for everyone. It’s probably something to do with the pastel-coloured trousers and prohibitive pricing for a 10-mile hike in the wind and rain. But now there’s a solution for even the harshest golfing sceptic, a high-energy, low outlay alternative: Cross Golf.
Granted, this sounds like another niche car model, but Cross Golf is actually a serious sport – well, semi-serious – and one that’s growing in popularity at an incredible rate. Also known as Urban Golf, it shuns the long-winded original rulebook, focusing instead on the bare essentials. All you need to play are one or two clubs, special cross golf balls and a little creativity, because practically anywhere can be used as a course as long as there’s no danger of killing anyone.
Porsche has teamed up with Cross Golf expert Claudio Orlik to shine a light on this new wave of al fresco stick-wielding. And what better way to do it than by putting a group of media influencers into a fleet of Cayenne and sending them off into the great outdoors with Claudio and a couple of clubs?
Orlik has been a fixture on the Cross Golf scene for years. The 42-year-old is a member of the German national team (yes, there is one), winning a European Cross Golf runner-up medal in 2016 as a player and becoming European champion in 2017 as the team manager. The tournaments are organised by the Urban Golf Collective, a sort of ‘World Federation of Cross Golf’, which is run on a voluntary basis.
When we first meet up with Orlik, his appearance immediately speaks volumes about the very different nature of this new breed of sport: long white beard, undercut hairstyle, tattoos, sunglasses and a street-smart Berlin attitude. He’s golf’s very own Magnus Walker.
“Anyone can play,” Orlik reminds the group before they start. Your age, he explains, is unimportant, as is where you come from or even whether you’ve played before. Which is good news for our group, who have backgrounds in travel, urban culture, photography, men’s affairs, entertainment and, happily for one of them, actual golf.
The Porsche Cayenne is selected as a kind of mobile base for the day. “A good choice,” says Orlik. “The car has enough space for our golf bags, it’s as sporty as we are and it can also take us off road to the best spots.”
The newly sworn-in cross golfers immediately get an opportunity to see what the Cayenne can do, hitting the off-road test facility at Porsche Leipzig. On gravel or sand, through ditches or over sloping tracks, the Cayenne makes smooth and steady progress. Even an incline of 80 per cent proves straightforward for our gen 3 SUV, with its three-chamber air suspension and deep reserves of torque from the new turbocharged V6.
The driving test is interspersed with short rounds of cross golf to get everyone warmed up. “The cars are not at risk,” Orlik assures us, because at 13 grams a Cross Golf ball weighs only about one third of a normal golf ball and is made of hard foam.
With the cars and participants duly warmed up, the road trip can begin, taking in Wernigerode Castle, the Expo grounds in Hanover, Halde Hoheward between Herten and Recklinghausen and the windmills of Zaanse Schans near Amsterdam. In contrast to classic golf, the play seldom revolves around holes. The targets are usually objects that have to be hit with the balls. And these can be anything from dustbins to road signs to tree trunks. The paths to the objects also depart significantly from the rules of conventional golf: the more contorted the better.
By the final stage of the #PorscheCrossdrive everyone is swinging like a pro, but more importantly they’ve all grasped the spirit of the sport: Have fun, be open, don’t brain any passers-by.
If you’re interested in learning more about golf’s wilder baby brother, and happen to be in the area on September 22, the first ever World Urban Golf Cup will be staged in Paris, one week before the Ryder Cup. And Claudio Orlik will be on hand as manager of the German national team. And newly crowned golfing Outlaw.