Walker Art Center

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The Fine Art of Putt-Putt
Tour the 2014 Edition of Walker on the Green: Artist Designed Mini Golf

Walker on the Green: Artist-Designed Mini Golf, 2014

All photos by Gene Pittman

The Walker Art Center offers another chance to practice your swing at Walker on the Green: Artist-Designed Mini Golf. Summer has transformed part of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden into an expanded 18-hole course comprised of two 9-hole circuits. The 29 artists, architects, collaborative teams, and mini-golf mavens have created a fun and challenging tour full of constellations, friend-or-foe gameplay, and imaginative design. The course is open from May 22 through Labor Day, which provides plenty of chances to put your putting skills to the test.

Curling Club

Paul Hedlund

Designer Paul Hedlund allows you to step onto the ice and flex your curling muscles. Inspired by the Winter Olympics classic, this hole propels you to avoid the stones and brooms as you bring your ball to the “button.” Pro tip: It doesn’t take the skill of an Olympic player to maneuver your ball around, but take delicate aim and it’ll likely find its way in the concentric circles.

18 Holes in One

David Lefkowitz and Stephen Mohring

18 Holes in One transports you to the 18 legendary greens of the Augusta National Golf Course, home of the Masters Tournament. The undulating hills and lush turf hold 18 holes, but take care to avoid hidden clefts seamlessly woven into the green. Work your ball through the front and back nine, or execute a chip from the sidelines. Instead of golf cups, artists David Lefkowitz and Stephen Mohring opted for drains in tribute to Robert Gober.

Putt-Pong

Trevor Anderson and Barry Kudrowitz

The fast pace of ping-pong and careful strategy of putt-putt come together in this unique juxtaposition. The carefully placed color-dipped paddles and see-through net could work to your advantage or increase your par. Designers Trevor Anderson and Barry Kudrowitz combine speed, strategy, and play in this hole. Pro tip: Use the paddles for a bank shot to create hole-in-one winning angles.

Putt R. Mutt

Sarah Burns

Artist Sarah Burns wants to change your experience with well-known sculpture in the hole Putt R. Mutt. Usually Fountain by Marcel Duchamp stands on a pedestal or is encased in an impenetrable cube, but Burns’ design allows you to shoot into one of the most famous and iconic sculptures of the 20th century. How do you recontextualize Fountain to fit the zany standards of mini golf? Burns answers, “Mini golf traditionally has a lot of cheesy armature. This is the kitschiest version I’ve seen of Fountain: it’s oversized, fat, and blobby. It’s actually very nice.” Pro tip: Use the black diamonds on the tile pattern to align your aim.

Guess What? Chicken Putt!

Brian Fewell and Cami Applequist

Guess What? Chicken Putt! is a creative manifestation marrying artist Cami Applequist‘s passion for chickens with urban designer Brian Fewell’s attentive design. When asked about the relationship between art and mini golf, Fewell states, “It’s taking an activity and making it different. It’s a way of adding a level of art to an activity. This is a natural extension of regular mini golf.” Players putt up to Henrietta in this chicken coop, while being careful to avoid her eggs and chicks. Keep a wary eye on the sly fox who will sneak your ball and make you start over. Pro tip: The eggs have a pinball-type layout, so steer away from them or use them to your advantage.

Gopher Hole

Locus Architecture

Shoot up the chute and watch your ball descend into a centripetal cone in Gopher Hole designed by Locus Architecture. Calculate the probability of your ball coming out of one slide versus the other. Watch out, though! There are faux holes on the green, so make sure you putt to the right one. This hole combines chance, putting skill, and physics for science-inspired gameplay through a series of chutes.

Move Your Hole!

MAKESH!T

Unleash your competitive streak with Move Your Hole! by MAKESH!T. Lead designer Lucas Alm redefines the mini-golf playing field conceptually and quite literally. Players take turns either putting or moving a placard to block an opponent’s next calculated strike. The charming topiary plugs were designed by Witt Siasoco and work hand-in-hand with the strategic and transient nature of the landscape. And what about the reimagined nature of the game? Alm responds, “It’s more socially engaging. It’s not just hitting your ball into a hole. It’s working around and negotiating with your neighbors.”

The Uncertainty Principle

Kenneth Steinbach and Dave Denninger

It’s a short ramp up to The Uncertainty Principle. This mystical track, designed by Kenneth Steinbach and Dave Denninger, encompasses eight holes amidst the spiraling wise words of theoretical physicist Werner Heisenberg. The top of the playing field is tilted, so gravitational forces and luck dictate which hole your ball will end up nearest to on the green. Pro tip: Add a little “oomph” to your hit, let go, and let the Uncertainty Principle take over.

Don’t Blow It

Robin Schwartzman

With a candy-inspired playing field, Don’t Blow It by Robin Schwartzman integrates a sloped jump shot with an oversized gumball machine. Large, carnivalesque hand signs point to your number one goal: a coin slot that propels your ball down a spiral. Pro tip: This is your last chance for a hole-in-one, so make your stroke even and sure.

Tilt-A-Putt

David Wulfman, Dave Hultman of Dave Hultman Design, Tyler Hultman of Hultman Machine, and Britta Olson

Tilt-A-Putt combines two childhood games into one with a giant marble labyrinth and mini golf playing parts. The initial points of entry up the pipes require a perfect mix of power, control, and patience. Don’t give up, though! Once onto the mirrored playing surface, which reflects the living green of trees and immense blue sky, you can conjure up memories of playing labyrinth as a kid and maneuver your ball into the hole of your choice.

Take It to the Grave

Holly Streekstra

Prepare to meet your maker in this cemetery-inspired par-2 hole designed by Holly Streekstra. Ball path possibilities are cast in light and shadow amid the artificial turf, cemetery gate and fence, headstones, crypt, and the grave-shaped scoring hole. It’s a high stakes game in order to bring your ball it its final resting place. Pro tip: Aim for the crypt, and don’t let the gravestones get in the way.

Garden Gnome Foosball

Nicola Carpenter, Susanne Dehnhard Carpenter, and Bryan Carpenter

When garden gnomes and foosball collide, one of the most delightful holes on the course manifests. Use the red wheelbarrows to angle your shot and putt up to the second level where garden gnomes will greet your ball. Once there, players trade their putters for handles to play foosball with the cut-out gnome strikers. Designer Bryan Carpenter of Alchemy Architects found that this hole was “a way to combine our love of design, kitsch, and family.”

Stargazer

Jess Hirsch

Travel the night sky and sweep a path among the constellations in visual artist Jess Hirsch’sStargazer. Motivated by the ever-evolving map of the universe, Hirsch invites players to putt around Scorpius in the south or Corona Borealis in the west. This hole scales down your scope and makes you feel “as though you are a giant traversing the cosmos as opposed to an ant looking up.” The map is circular, a classic constellation blue, with small plastic obstacles physically representing pinpoints of light. Can you unlock the secret of mini golf and art among the stars? Hirsch replies, “I think mini golf is important because a lot of people who are drawn to the course may not experience art on their own. Then they have small snippets of what art can be from mini golf. Then they can move into the sculpture park and then into the Walker itself.” A thoughtful reading of the stars.

Rock! Garden.

Aaron Dysart

Running through Aaron Dysart‘s Rock! Garden. are strings of influence from the iconic Zen rock garden, Jim Hodges’ “buoyant monoliths,” and the Walker’s Rock the Garden summer music festival. This glittering soundscape contains brightly-colored fiberglass boulders with each concealing a musical instrument, from a snare drum to a Fisher Price xylophone. Don’t let its smooth facade fool you—it took more than 10 pounds of glitter to complete the rocks’ final forms. Pro tip: A shot off the xylophone slows your ball down, putting it in place near the target.

Snakebite!

Kyle Fokken

Designed by Kyle Fokken, a full-time mixed-media sculptor, Snakebite! draws interpretive comparisons between the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and the Garden of Eden. Not many snakes coil in on themselves, which is why Fokken chose the southwestern serpent for his main figure. Aim for the rattlesnake’s gaping mouth and watch and listen as your ball makes its spiraling descent, echoing a sound similar to a rattle. Fokken also cites a family influence: “It’s something I can show to my kids and they won’t get bored. I suppose my son influenced the design a bit because he likes creepy, crawly things. I think a snake is an appropriate choice for the father of a little boy.” Families can also appreciate the cacti dotting the landscape, which complete the effect of this fantastic hole.

Holey Lighted

Jeffrey Pauling and Tyler Whitehead

When you walk under the folded canopy of Holey Lighted, take the time to admire leaf-shaped light, but in sharper focus. This hole, designed by Jeffery Pauling and Tyler Whitehead of Cuningham, calls into question the nature of nature. Using digital fabrication and computational modeling, this steel 3D trellis attempts to re-create the sensation of a shaded canopy in summer. At 1,000 pounds, the sculpture can withstand winds up to 90 mph. Pro tip: Pyramid-like planes will try to block your shot, so slow it down and follow the paths in-between.

Be a Sculpture!

Nicola Carpenter, Bryan Carpenter, Susanne Carpenter, and Sean Donovan

A platform on a Berlin playground bearing foot shapes inspired the design for Be a Sculpture!. This hole invites players to be the obstacles. Though simple and minimal in design, each material was carefully selected, from the tough turf carpeting to the acrylic sheen on the edge of each footstep that makes them glow. Take a cue from art in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and place your feet on the colorful footprints to become a sculpture yourself.

Right on Cue

Kevin Weeden

Turn your club on its head and transform your putter into a pool cue on this hole designed by Kevin Weeden. The cool reputation of billiards and the campy reputation of mini golf combine to make this unique hole. Operate around the balls already set on the surface and aim for the hole. Pro tip: Avoid the corner pockets—they’ll cost you a stroke.