Pokemon hunters hit golf club

By Martin Johnston

Tony Jonas, golfcourse superintendent at North Shore Golf Club, near damage caused by a vehicle with occupants looking for Pokemon on their phone app. Photo / Doug Sherring
Tony Jonas, golfcourse superintendent at North Shore Golf Club, near damage caused by a vehicle with occupants looking for Pokemon on their phone app. Photo / Doug Sherring

An Auckland golf club has been forced to pay for repairs after Pokemon Go-addicted vandals broke in and tore up grass while on the hunt for a rare character.

The North Shore Golf Club in Albany was left with a broken gate and trenches in the 10th fairway dug by car tyres after the invasion by players of the popular smartphone game.

Golf course superintendent Tony Jonas said the Pokemon raid occurred at night and a witness told staff what had happened.

"He yelled out to them, 'What are you doing', and they yelled back, 'Looking for rare Pokemon on the golf course'."

The vandals were two men and one woman in their late teens or early 20s.

"They had to force the gate open, break the opening mechanism which had to be repaired," Jonas said.

Their car had carved wheel tracks 15 to 20cm deep over more than 15m in the grass of the 10th fairway and "they had to virtually dig themselves out".

Golfing hadn't been affected and the repairs cost about $300 in labour and materials.

"It was more just a pain in the arse than anything ... the fact that it took staff away from doing what they normally do to repair the gate as well as repair damage from the vehicle," he said.

They decided not to report the incident to police.

"It's the last thing we would have expected - people coming on the golf course looking for rare Pokemon."

The "augmented reality" game, released last month, has been a hit around the world with players using their smartphones' GPS and cameras to hunt for the game's characters, which appear to exist in locations around users.

However, players have been getting into trouble in real life when Pokemon characters have been reported - or suspected - in unusual places.

In New York state, staff at the Mohawk Correctional Facility in Rome have put up a sign warning would-be hunters: "No Pokemon access allowed".

Australian police have notified players: "While Darwin Police Station may feature as a Pokestop, please be advised that you don't actually have to step inside in order to gain the pokeballs."

New Zealand police urged players absorbed by the game's virtual reality to keep an eye out for real-world hazards and to respect other people and their property. "Never use your phone while driving, don't step into the road without looking, watch out for others - particularly if they've got their noses buried in their phones."

- NZ Herald

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