Thursday, March 10, 2016

How To Play Golf in New York City: East River Bikeway Edition

Golf. You'd be surprised at how accessible it is from the island of Manhattan. One of my favoritest routes to get to golf is the one that runs along the shore of the East River and down the entire "Loisaida" (that's local-slang for "Lower East Side", you honky) to the doorstep of the Staten Island Ferry terminal.

Riding a bike on city streets with golf bag in tow is somewhat impractical, so what I really like about this particular route is that it consists almost entirely of carless greenways and barely any interaction with motor vehicle traffic.

For me the trip starts conveniently near the terminal point of the East River Park greenway. Here we are looking eastward across the river at Queens and Brooklyn, and about to cross under the FDR Drive.

Looking southward from our starting point on the east side of lower-mid-Manhattan. The green line represents the bike portion of the trip and the blue line in the distance represents the ferry ride to Staten Island.

East River Park is a popular strip for joggers, walkers, cyclists, sport fishermen and, let's not sugarcoat it, homeless drifters.

The hulking ConEdison power station which got flooded during Hurricane Sandy and left me and most of lower Manhattan without electricity for a few crazy days.

The greenway is a very good public-use facility--except for this very narrow, choked off segment. And let me tell you it really sucks ass, an excruciating little hitch in an otherwise chillaxin' journey.

It's fine if there's nobody else coming through at the same time, such as now. But when people going in opposite directions converge, there's only a couple of centimeters of breathing room between them. A lot of bumped elbows and grumbling. The city recently approved an improvement project for here so, you know, someday.

Once through the bottleneck though, things really open up. There's a much newer, boardwalk-like path off to the left that runs right up against the waterfront, but we're interested in efficiency here so we'll take the more utilitarian service road.

This is a nice track where I like to take a few laps every now and then.

Coming up on the first of three bridges to Brooklyn. Why the need for so many seemingly redundant bridges, you might ask. And it'd be a good question. Hell if I know.

There is much more to the New York City recreational sports scene than ghetto golf. There's also ghetto tennis. This is one of several city-owned and (unfortunately) operated court facilities. To play tennis for an hour on a crummy city court they charge you, get this--fifteen bucks. Gyp.

Around this bend it usually starts to get windier, and this little golf excursion starts to feel like a workout.

A lonely dusty dirt road in Manhattan.

Our route goes under the FDR Drive for a little bit.

We're by Chinatown now. On the right there's a public park gym full of all kinds of weird gyrating, swinging contraptions meant to give you an old-timey workout.

Here the road diverges into a proper two-way bikeway. Not that that stops people from wandering or standing around in the middle of them.

When tide is low, there's actually bits of beachy shore along the east side.

Shuttered building on the left was once the city's main fish market, established in the early 1800s. It had to move to a bigger place in the Bronx about a decade ago. Exponentially more fish-eaters living here than back in the day I am guessing.

Speaking of historical shit we have arrived at the South Street Seaport. The entertainment/retail aspect is under reconstruction right now, but this old-timey ship is pretty cool, and touristy.

Speaking of touristy this is a popular spot for selling tchotchkes on the lowdown. There's group tai-chi sessions here in the mornings as well.

Pier for various commuter ferries.


The home stretch. Getting really windy now. Maybe it's all those f'n helicopters?!

Phew, those last 500 yards were a real struggle. Put it this way, riding into a headwind wearing a golf stand bag is not what you'd call an aerodynamically-optimized setup. But at last we're here. Parking, it's a bitch just like everywhere else in the city.

Like Lot's wife, I can't help but to take a look back.

After all, we covered a lot of ground.

Hope you enjoyed the trip. On the boat ride, I like to enjoy some alone time. So I'm gonna go ahead and, you know, go stand over there now. You're on your own from here. See you on the course, maybe.


  1. I'm exhausted reading this. Whew.


  2. It is a totally different experience using a push cart across the terrain as opposed to hopping in a regular golf cart.


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