Brother King stoops to analyse the lie. He must chip the overflowing rubbish bin, clear the building site to his left and avoid the print works on the right. 'Tricky, tricky,' he says rubbing his chin. 'I think this calls for a sand wedge, Brother Howe.' With the traditional whoosh of the backswing and the not so customary thwack of a golf club hitting a rubbish bin, the shot is met by mock 'oooohs' as the ball bounces off the garbage and comes to rest by a concrete bollard. There is a ripple of applause: the ball is at least playable, unlike Team Rano's ball, which is stuck under a Mercedes-Benz. They elect to drop and their next shot lands beside an abandoned Vespa scooter lying in the gutter. Thirty minutes and 154 yards from the tee, the foursome at last begin to putt, aiming for a fire grate protruding from the light blue carpet that doubles as the green. The flag is removed, the players putt and the caddies fetch pints of beer. Before the players navigate the second hole - a par-four, 132-yarder nicknamed 'the canyon' because of its narrow, cobblestoned fairway flanked by loft apartments, railings and an office block - the bibbed official tallies the scores. V.J. Swing, accompanied by two mini-skirted blonde caddies from a glamour agency, scored 11; Team Rano, peeved by the Mercedes-Benz ('I mean, who parks their bloody car on a fairway?') scored 12, as did Big Bertie, both a hefty seven over par. Brother King, of the Shoreditch Knights, scored seven. 'Not bad, Brother King,' says his teammate. 'Thank you, Brother Howe,' he replies. On the same day as Tiger Woods and the rest of the golfing glitterati are gracing the US Open at Pinehurst, North Carolina, a cast of 64 London livewires, fuelled by an affinity for the eccentric, a taste for plus-fours, striped socks and diamond-patterned Pringle V-neck sweaters, and a genuine passion for golf, are tackling the second Shoreditch Open. 'Never continue play in a thunderstorm,' say the Shoreditch Golf Club (SGC) rules. 'Always take cover in the nearest pub or minicab office.' There's no need to seek shelter today. It's 33 degrees Celsius, with blue skies overhead. Perfect weather. Today, the caddies' umbrellas will double as sunshades. It's so hot even the sombrero and poncho-wearing score-keeper, Sevvy Ballesteros, has nipped off to the pub for a cold Guinness. The anarchistic new sport of urban golf amuses and confuses in equal measure. It takes the traditionally rural game and places it in a city setting, turning its stuffy image on its head before whacking it with a nine-iron. Out go the staid suburban image, countryside setting and fuddy-duddy etiquette. In come young and distinctly left-field dandies, half-mimicking, half-paying homage to the hallowed game with this boisterous equivalent - keeping the venerable Royal and Ancient rules but adding a twist of local spice. In urban golf, especially in this neck of London, grass is so rare it's a hazard and warrants a free drop. Dismissed as a fad by purists, urban golf is winning plaudits - former European No. 1 Ronan Rafferty played in the inaugural tournament, and even though he shot a plus-30, 'he loved it', according to 33-year-old Jez Feakes, an architect by day, but organiser of the Shoreditch Open by night. San Francisco now hosts a tournament and there are versions in Nottingham, England, and Germany. Recently, the SGC was invited to Siena, Italy, and won the tournament. The club is off to start a franchise in Cape Town, South Africa, this summer, with plans afoot for other cities. 'I'd love to do Tokyo, New York and Hong Kong: really urban places,' says Feakes. The SGC is also teeing up a game for Venice. Too many water hazards? 'I guess, but the place is so enclosed, with all its old narrow streets, you can play golf like squash and play off walls.' Urban golf taps into what Feakes calls 'a growing democratisation' of the game, a new philosophy rejecting the old-fashioned image that he says excludes popular culture and people from the inner city. New British magazines such as Total Golf and the more lad-oriented Golfpunk (started by former Loaded co-founder Tim Southwell) as well as Bunker Mentality, one of a new school of golf clothing labels, have tapped the market, too, offering a cooler approach to golf. 'I played a lot of golf between the ages of 14 and 18, but I gave it up when I came to London to study,' says Feakes. 'One day, I managed to organise a game, but while I was on the fairway this woman just popped out of the bushes in front of me with some clubs and started playing. I was shocked. I asked her what she was doing and if she was a member. I got hauled over the coals by the club captain later on. He said she was the women's captain and she could do whatever she wanted. What a load of rubbish. There is too much of that at golf clubs. It's archaic.' Other incidents sparked his imagination. While on a visit to Ireland, Feakes says he felt like a misfit carrying his golf clubs around. Later, he found himself in London with his clubs in tow. People were smirking, so he asked if anyone had seen his ball. 'It got a laugh, but it got me thinking. Why couldn't you play golf in the city? I left it in the incubator for a few years and now here we are: the Shoreditch Open.' Now, he believes he has refined the formula - golf, true to its roots, but in an urban setting. 'Golf is played on a soft surface with a hard ball, but this is a hard surface with a soft ball. The ball is like a Hacky Sack, but without the beans, because that skews the direction. We tried everything for the perfect ball, even a teddy bear's head - which was fun to whack down the street - but we have the best ball now.' Normal golf clubs are used, but you might want to think twice before using a #1,000 ($14,000) set on concrete. Plus there's always the chance of losing your four-iron down a manhole, as one player discovered. 'The concept of golf is based around nature,' says Feakes. 'When people played on the original links courses, they sunk their putts in rabbit holes, and bunkers were the places where sheep sheltered. We try to leave the environment alone. We don't need more bunkers as there are too many hazards anyway - street furniture, parked cars, drains, etcetera. Some people scoff at what we're doing, dismissing it as a trendy fad, but it's not. It's good fun.' Fun perhaps, but will thwacking a Hacky Sack down an urban street take off? It's not impossible - one-day cricket was initially dismissed out of hand - although Feakes' dream of having the game included in the 2012 Olympic Games may be a tad premature. The Shoreditch Open attracted 348 applicants this year, whittled down by a selection process dependant on answering demanding golfing questions such as: 'If you owned a golf club, what stupid rule would you implement for your own satisfaction?' Sample answer: 'All players must sport afros.' Those who enter just for fun are paired with those who can play and win, 'because it quickens the pace'. 'We don't allow too many great players,' says Feakes. 'We want people to have fun and dress up in golf gear, though nothing too silly. Last year, someone tried to enter as a witch-finder, but that's taking it too far. People say we take the p***, but we honestly believe golf should be more democratic, and this is one way to bring that about. Why shouldn't you play on a disused street at the weekend? There's no harm in that, is there?' There is an early log jam in this year's tournament because proceedings began late. Chief umpire Corporal McDuff, a chain-smoking, besuited dandy in a trilby hat and armed with a shooting stick, is quick to sort it out. He has officiated at traditional golf tournaments in the past and he does not stand for nonsense. He pounces at the second hole, penalising V.J. Swing for 'being too slow' and castigating another umpire for not stepping in earlier. Will there be any other problems? 'No. We are using the Royal and Ancient rules, and they will be obeyed,' says McDuff. 'The wind could be a factor because some of the streets are narrow. Patience, as always, will be a virtue.' Another player, Chalkie, also known as Steve White, is having problems putting. 'You can hit the ball fine off the tee, but putting is a lottery; the ball won't go where you want it to no matter how much you line it up.' Next year, his 11-year-old son and caddy, Ben, will enter the tournament and White will carry the clubs. Youngsters and women are fairly scarce, but there's an international flavour to the participants. There are a few Australians, including veteran Rawdon Petit, a London-based architect sporting a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan 'Who's Your Caddy?' There's a Canadian - London Underground worker Don Tluzyerballs - and a smattering of Americans. There's also a German, Tanja Heinze, and her English teammate Kim (the Dragonettes), who are busy wowing crowds with their plaid mini-skirts, golf visors and knee-length socks. Have they played golf before? 'I have, sure,' says Kim, 'but not lately. It's a bit hard in central London.' Will they win? 'I'm not even sure if we will finish. It is so hot,' says Heinze. Surprisingly, they do and win the best-dressed prize, much to the chagrin of the Shoreditch Knights, dressed in full masonic regalia, including monogrammed white gloves, tiepins, rolled up left trouser legs and a briefcase that doubles as a golf trolley. The tournament is brightened further by the colourful names the players have adopted: there's Karl Heinz Frostenigge, complete with mullet wig and sun visor, plus Iron Giant, Puff Caddy, Penelope G. Percyville and Davis Duffer Jnr. Clint Rimmer is playing well, as are Ditch Buchanan and Ivor Longdrive. The Big Queasy (28-year-old Australian civil engineer Luke Brooks) and his caddy Ben Jesse have had a long wait to tee off, and the mixture of beer and the oddly shaped ball is causing confusion. 'I feel a bit queasy,' says the Big Queasy. Jesse disagrees. 'Beer is the rocket fuel that will propel my man to the podium.' It's unlikely: his improvised tee - a water bottle cut off at the neck - is illegal and he is penalised one shot. The rules have many alterations in keeping with the setting and spirit. They state that 'players must retain their sense of fun at all times' and any divots should be repaired or reported to Hackney Council's highways department. There is also a section on 'preferred lies' that stipulates a shot must be played off the portable carpet tile carried by the caddy, except when on the green. There are no 'gimmies'; putts must be holed. 'Verdant grass' is deemed a hazard, warranting a line-of-sight drop within two club lengths, as is private property - such as company car parks and office stairwells - although if it amuses the referee, players will be asked to play them. Street furniture, such as drain covers, benches, road signs and bollards 'are an integral part of the course, so there is no relief, unless it is subject to a one-shot penalty'. A drop is allowed, however, if the ball rests within swinging distance of a car - no one wants to get clobbered or sued by an irate motorist. But there are few cars around today. Neighbours have been warned and streets closed off, monitored by police on mountain bikes. At one stage a motorcycle courier is taken to task for riding across the seventh hole just as the Shoreditch Knights are playing through. 'There's just no respect any more,' tuts Brother King.