Street photographer Patrick Barr, aka Tiger Hood, has become a local legend in NYC for bringing the game of golf to the streets. For the past twelve years, he’s been holding impromptu golf competitions throughout Manhattan with just a golf club, a newspaper-stuffed milk carton, and a crate. Team 5i is filled with fans and friends of Patrick’s so we caught up with him to see how he’s been doing and to learn more about his story.
1 | Patrick! How are you doing?
I’m good. Doing alright. Been hanging down in Florida since March 7th but heading back up to NYC soon. I got out of New York just before the city shut down because I come down to Daytona for Bike Week every year. And man, when they shut Bike Week down on its busiest day, a Friday night! That’s when I knew things were getting serious.
2 | Can you tell us how Patrick Barr, a street photographer, became NYC’s legendary Tiger Hood?
It was back in, I think it was 2008. I had my photographs on display on the street when I saw a golf club in a garbage can. I had a tennis ball on me so I thought, I can hit this tennis ball into that garbage can. It was near a building down in SoHo that was under construction. I started hitting the tennis ball against the wall and it came back to me about ten or so times. I didn’t have a hard time hitting it right away. I just hit it straight, it went straight, and came right back to me. But after a few hits, it got stuck in the scaffolding and didn’t come back down. I was living on Bowery at the time and saw some milk cartons the next day and thought, these things will work. And as you know, the rest is history.
I’m just passing the time by amusing myself and bringing people together. When I first picked up that golf club, I didn’t say to myself, “Oh, let’s keep this thing for a while. I want to get into this game.” I had no clue this would become my lifestyle. But after the second or third day with that club, the name was instantaneous, pretty much. I didn’t even think about it really. I was just like, you know, Tiger Woods. And I’m the hood.
The main thing about hitting on the streets is having fun while being careful. I mean, listen, if I saw a guy swinging a golf club in the streets, I would be like is this guy crazy? Does this guy know what he’s doing? Is he being careful? Is he watching who’s around him? So the main thing is just to be careful. ABC. Always be careful. And that’s why I hit something soft.
Wow. Years ago. I tell you, man. He bought one of my photographs when I used to sell them on the street. It was a couple of years after that when he saw me playing golf. I’m embarrassed to say I don’t remember him buying one of my photos. That’s the beauty of it. He bought my photograph before and then recognized me as a golfer. I mean, that’s really cool.
Then I was out there playing on Jersey Street one night and when I took a swing, these kids were like, “Hey, man, you’re cool, bro.” And I, you know, sarcastically, was like “Hey, man. Oh, you just figured that shit out.” You know, just being silly. But Nico videotaped that, sent it to NBC and ABC and they used it! They bleeped the “shit” out. But anyway, that was I think the first time he documented me on film. It’s amazing to see what’s happened with Nico, man. He’s my brother growing up from another mother.
Must have been 2010, ‘11 when I got on Instagram. All thanks to Nico. I’m not sure when my first post was but I was out there playing on Jersey Street and Nico said, “Hey man, you should get on Instagram.” And I said, “Ok, how do I do that?” He opened up my @tigerhoodnyc page right then and there.
4 | We saw you sent Nico one of your wedges to carry on your NYC legacy while you were away! Any other updates to share?
Oh my, yeah. Those Haywood clubs are beauties, too. You guys at Five Iron saw them straight out of the box. You know what’s so cool too? First of all, Mark Baldwin. He’s out in Arizona and plays on the Korn Ferry Tour. He interviewed me and they put it on the Korn Ferry Tour’s social, which is really cool because that’s all about professional golfers. All professional golfers and then Tiger Hood! And then the Golf Ball Gallery. I don’t know if you’re familiar with him but it’s @golfballgallery on Instagram. The page is nothing but golf balls and now has my milk container on it. My milk container is now a golf ball in a golf ball gallery! I’m telling you it’s crazy. It’s like I’m that square peg actually getting into the round role. And it’s so cool.
5 | Do you have a favorite memory or person you’ve played with?
Oh, man. I’ve had so many fun moments with people coming to swing. I’ve had total strangers get it in on the first try! Like what’s up with that, man?! I had this girl who didn’t know how to swing for beans. And oh my gosh, I showed her the basics and I tell you what, after about maybe five to ten minutes, she got one in!
Justin Timberlake passed by once but he didn’t have time to take a swing. He walked back to take my picture though. I’d like to find out what he did with that picture. I think, Justin, you know if you take a picture of somebody the least you can do is send them a copy! You know what I mean? But Will Smith. Will is for sure my favorite. He just hit it and quit it. You know, he not only beat me, he beat Troy Mullins for crying out loud! C’mon now! Everyone lost it.
6 | How about a dream playing partner?
Obama and Tiger Woods. Those two are easy picks off the top of my head. And maybe Justin Timberlake. He owes me at least a picture, if not a couple of swings. You know what I’m saying? C’mon, it’s only fair! He needs to do the Will Smith Challenge. He owes me that much, especially since he’s a golfer. If he’s really any good, he’d come out to NYC and try it.
7 | What is the Will Smith Challenge?
Oh, it’s just three swings and that’s it. Will Smith got it in the basket in just three swings! I mean, listen, this is how it went down. This is how I look at how he did it, his thought process. His first swing was like reading a script as it comes in from the mail or is delivered to him. He reads the script so he knows what the show is about. Ok. His second swing was his dress rehearsal. And his third swing was his performance of a lifetime. He hit it and quit it. He won his award. He won his Neighborhood Golf Association Championship. He won his green jacket. He won a green jacket!
I don’t know if you know but the green jacket he gave me has a milk carton on the back! It’s not just an imitation of the real green jacket. It’s not a rip off of it. Well, of course, it is a ripoff. I am a ripoff. But it was specially made. Will had it made for me. So I only use it for special occasions. So I only use it for special occasions, like when I put it on Troy Mullins when she made one and then on Will when he did. I keep it nice and clean and only use it for special occasions.
8 | Do you have a favorite Manhattan street to play on?
Right now it’s Minetta Lane, where the Will Smith Challenge happened. But there are so many places that are undiscovered. Just so many. Like how there are so many golf courses around the world to discover, there are so many neighborhoods and blocks in just Manhattan alone. But I like my little world down there in
the village. Minetta Lane and Jersey Street are like a little oasis in the city. They’re in the middle of all this activity yet both blocks are kind of quiet sometimes.
But I try to expand my horizons. That’s how I found you guys! I was down in the Financial District and saw your golf sign out front. I was by myself and walked in to check the place out and was like, wow! First of all, I love the colorful murals you guys have painted on your walls. Very nice.
And then I was greeted by the brother with dreads and thought, this is my kind of place! Then one of the young ladies down there, a cheering machine, she recognized me and I was like, “WHAT? How?” And we made that little video together doing that dance.
But man, they treated me like royalty! I’m a nobody and they treated me like a celebrity. And right then, I knew I loved Five Iron. You guys treated me like gold from the very beginning and I just appreciate that so much. I mean, immensely, man. Every time I go to your Flatiron or Financial District location, I get treated like a celebrity. I told you, I’m a nobody! And you all are so awesome to me. You guys have really hooked me up with the swag. I love my pink Five Iron polo and carry it with me everywhere to represent. I love the texture and make of it because I also really love fashion. I used to collect fashion magazines in high school. Anyways, I always wear it and every time I do I think, real men wear pink.
9 | What motivates you to keep going?
Well, you know, I enjoy my life. I enjoy the game of golf. I didn’t expect to be down in Florida so long but you know, I’m excited to get back to New York. But it’s going to be bittersweet. We’ve lost a lot of people. Some of them I hardly knew but they were really close with Nico and Nico’s friends are friends of mine too. I mean, Vinny Peanuts, I met him once but what a cool guy. Jimmy Webb, I knew him for a few years before I even started playing golf. As a street photographer, I met him at his clothing store on St. Marks. And Moe Albanese, I met him years back when I first started playing and was hitting just a few yards outside his meat shop. It’s going to be strange going back to a New York without them and so many others but I am excited to get back. I can’t wait to get some new projects going.
Troy and I have talked about doing more things to get kids in the game, like working with the East Harlem girls golf team again. There are a few others I want to work with that I feel can just be unstoppable at getting these rugrats into the game. I mean, the PGA cannot ignore the number of people we might be able to get into the game, starting with the rugrats. I’m telling you, it’s been a surprising part of playing as Tiger Hood. It’s the craziest thing. I didn’t get into this for the kids. And most of the kids I’ve played with just happened to be passing by on the streets. So you ain’t seen nothing yet. With real golfers wanting to get involved, we can go to these different schools and show kids how to make golf containers at first. You know, like an arts and crafts project where they recycle their milk containers by making golf containers. Then we teach them how to hit them safely. ABC. Always be careful. You never know, this could be the hunt for America’s next top golfer. We’ve just got to get them from the streets to the indoor driving ranges like Five Iron and out onto the course.
Be on the lookout for Tiger Hood on the streets of NYC and in more collaborations with Five Iron. You can keep up with him on Instagram at @tigerhoodnyc.
Cover image courtesy of Ray Neutron.