Minneapolis, April 12, 2013—To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the Walker delivers a fresh round of mini golf. Garden gnomes masquerading as foosball strikers, a scale model of a French chateau, mazes, gopher holes, and contours mapped from the course at the legendary Augusta National Golf Club are just a few ingredients going into the 2013 edition of the artist-designed course. And purists, worry not: at least one hole includes a kitschy, oversize watering can.
For the two eight-hole courses, winning proposals from a group that included architects, artists, engineers, machinists, mini-golf aficionados, and a loose creative collective known as Makesh!t were selected in January from an open call. Two more holes will be designed and produced by students from a public art class at the University of Minnesota, led by artist Chris Larson.
Walker on the Green features the Dog House serving all-beef hot dogs and beverages. Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto will also be serving frozen treats. Walker on the Green: Artist-Designed Mini Golf is copresented by mnartists.org.
Walker on the Green: Artist-Designed Mini Golf
May 23–September 8
Open 7 days a week (Sunday-Wednesday, 10 am–8pm; Thursday–Saturday, 10 am-10 pm) weather permitting
$12 adults, $10 students, and $9 members and children under 12
Gopher Hole, designed by LOCUS Architecture, challenges golfers to combine chance, putting skill, and physical analysis. The hole combines a converging chute, an elevated centripetal cone, gopher tunnels, and an obstacle laden putting green. Can you predict where your ball will pop up?
Roaming Hole Gardens
Deceptively simple in design and appearance, Roaming Hole Gardens by Makesh!t transforms the familiar mini-golf experience with a crucial twist: the hole roams. By moving topiary plugs from one hole to another, players change the object of the round for everyone, thereby altering the competitive and strategic landscape. The course’s artificial trees, shrubs, and flowers are not merely aesthetic adornments but mobile equipment. To play, you need to learn only one new rule: “On your turn, hit your ball OR move the hole.”
18 Holes in One
David Lefkowitz and Stephen Mohring
18 Holes in One, by David Lefkowitz and Stephen Mohring, is a physical manifestation of an overlay of all 18 legendary greens as Augusta National Golf Course, home of the Masters Tournament. The result will thrill and challenge both the novice and seasoned mini-golfer alike. With 18 potential targets in their sites as they approach the undulating surface of the composite structure, they will encounter a nonlinear spatiotemporal golfing experience like no other.
Garden Gnome Foosball
Nicola Carpenter, Susanne Dehnhard Carpenter, and Bryan Carpenter
A mash-up of mini golf and foosball with garden gnome strikers is presented by Nicola, Susanne, and Bryan Carpenter! The course first makes a half-circle turn assisted noisily by submerged wheelbarrows, a continuous mild incline raises the ball to a flat playing field upon which the player and/or friends of the player may help the ball to its goal via the gnome strikers. Will the garden implements be helpful or hazardous on your journey through the artificial foliage to the gooooooooooooooooal?
Zen Rock (The) Garden
McGrill Art Associates
Sarah Balk McGrill and Wesley Thayne Petersen
Zen gardens are intended to imitate the intimate essence of nature, not its actual appearance, and to promote meditation about the true meaning of life. Zen Rock (The) Garden, by McGrill and Petersen, brings this concept to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden mini golf field, with the added element of play, and a focus on sustainable design.
David Hultman, David Wulfman, Tyler Hultman, and Britta Olson
Hultman, Wulfman, Hultman, and Olson have created a two-dimensional, bi-directional pivoting frame, on the surface of which is patterned a maze embellished in the garden maze motif. The hole is also decorated with multiple labyrinthine paths and associated gold ball-size traps.
Riffing off the multiple meanings of rock, Rock! Garden by Dysart will require bank shots off colorful, glittery fiberglass rocks that will contain musical instruments (xylophone, tambourine, drum, taut strings). The hole borrows its layout from an iconic Zen rock garden while its aesthetic stems from the flashy finishes of musical instruments. Players will have to unleash their inner rockstar to gain the enlightenment of a birdie.
“Can You Handle This?”
Tom Loftus and Robin Schwartzman
“Can You Handle This?” by Loftus and Schwartzman brings together our favorite elements of a good mini-golf hole: a kitschy and themed aesthetic, a new take on classic obstacles, and a combination of skill and chance. They take the idea of garden and translate it into a giant watering can. Players have to loop through its handle from which the ball will fall into the can, out the spout, and onto the lower putting green. Golfers must then putt through pools of water and giant flowers to make it to the hole.
Be a Sculpture!
Nicola Carpenter, Bryan Carpenter, Susanne Carpenter, and Sean Donovan
Be a Sculpture! Invites people to engage with mini-golf in a different way. You become the obstacles for your friends! Taking cues from sculptures found in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, place your feet on the colorful footprints and become a sculpture yourself.
Stormi Balise and Bryan Thoen
When players walk up a constructed hill to step up to the tee, nature becomes larger than life as flower beds give way to the subterranean world laid out by ants. Through chance selection, players watch their ball tumble through an organic arcade; the ball twists from one direction to the next until it rests either in a cup as a hole in one, or back onto the green after it has been tossed from the far side of the construction. Plotted and trellised land merges with nature’s affinity for the unexpected as players explore Earth Avenues.
Jeffrey Pauling and Tyler Whitehead
Holey Lighted by Pauling and Whitehead is a hole that calls into question the nature of nature. By using digital fabrication techniques and a nonorganic material, the hole attempts to re-create the sensation of a shaded canopy in summer, while the player navigates multiple folded steel planes. The constructive forces of nature help inform the overall form, structure, and experience.
Le Bagatelle de Bagatelle
This hole by Unnasch, designed as a game board known as a bagatelle, is played as a tribute to the pivotal history (circa 1770s) where French parlor games of skill developed into gambling games of chance in an era of opulence and excess. The playing field consists of a small-scale version of the Chateau de Bagatelle and its accompanying gardens.
Alyssa Baguss and Alison Hiltner
Swarm by Baguss and Hiltner explores a failed agrarian culture, inspired by aerial views of pivot irrigation, the landscape now arid and repurposed by new inhabitants whose only visual imprint is their architecture. Fallen civilizations leave remnants of their existence behind, reclaimed and intermingled with the naturally occurring landscape transformed into a garden of long lost potential. Players are challenged to work their way through the landscape as an ominous hum echoes through the chambers of the structure, leaving one with a sense of unease as to what resides within. Through craterous insect nests into watershed-carved alluvial flats, the players will traverse this par 4 environment of the future’s past.
Chris Larson and University of Minnesota Public Art Students
Part of the charm of mini golf is scale. Mega Golf embraces the playfulness of scale by inverting the player’s relationship to the game and garden, relocating play inside a giant golf ball where players will need to putt around a miniature model of the Walker Art Center. This hole and Ames Room were designed by students from the University of Minnesota’s public art course taught by Chris Larson during the spring 2013 semester.
Chris Larson and University of Minnesota Public Art Students
By placing players in a distorted room, an optical illusion of depth, distance and variance in size is created for viewers observing game play from a certain vantage point. This community partnership looks at mini-golf through the lens of public art while giving students a direct experience with the Walker’s curatorial practice.
The Dog House
Fuel your competitive spirit at the Dog House featuring a selection of all beef Vienna dogs on soft pretzel buns. Cool off with a cold Summit beer.
Hours: Sunday–Wednesday, 11 am–5 pm
Thursday–Saturday, 11 am–7 pm
Vienna all beef hot dogs served on pretzel bun
Top Dog –sauerkraut, fried onions, spicy mustard
Glo Dog – mustard, celery salt, neon green relish, tomato, onion, sport peppers, dill pickle spear
Zen Dog – Soy Dog with horseradish cabbage on white bun
Show Dog – featured dog
Pup Dog– kids dog
Soda or Bottled Water
Lemonade (20 oz)
Summit Keg Beer (16 oz)
Red and White Wine
Mini Facts about Mini Golf
Miniature Golf has a long, strange, and fascinating history. One of the few truly American art forms, it has evolved from “fake” golf, literally a substitute sport for Scots and Englishmen transplanted to countries lacking their rolling green hills to a sport that rivaled baseball and the movies in popularity. Mini golf moved from being the savior of the American economy, threatening to replace movies as the nation’s fifth largest industry, only to be placed alongside comic books and pools halls as the perpetrators of the corruption of America’s morals. Regardless, mini golf has endured, always reflecting its unique and quirky history.
The 1920s, with factors such as the suffragette movement, prohibition, and new levels of prosperity and leisure time, allowed for the game to evolve from its 1916 origin as a short game of regulation golf to what we now think of as classic miniature golf. It was an era of fads—flagpole sitting, dance marathons, and hot-dog-eating contests. Garden Golf, as it was then called, began in earnest in 1926 in two separate parts of the country. Offered as a diversion for overwrought executives during their lunch break, New York City hosted over 150 courses on building rooftops. At the same time, a resort opened on the border of Georgia and Tennessee as a sort of fantasyland for millionaires. Designed by a woman (women couldn’t be architects at that time), the course’s obstacle and hazard-laden features were patented as Tom Thumb Golf.
Indoor and outdoor courses soon caught on. Most were lavish affairs, often with caddies and open late into the evening so folks could stop by for a round after a night at dinner and the theater. They were a society affair, played by visiting European aristocrats and famous Hollywood stars. A course was even installed in the American Presidential Summer Camp. The crash of 1929 was the impetus for the next era of Garden Golf. Few people could afford to run the courses with their former country club-like atmospheres in these lean times and courses became more ragtag, created on abandoned lots with scavenged objects for the obstacles. Often know as Rinkiedink golf, the game only gained in popularity during the Great Depression. The courses were unique and offered a cheap diversion.
The 1950s are the era that produced most of the courses for which our ideas of the game were formed. Miniature golf became a calm and wholesome family activity rather than the craze of the earlier years. The new courses were located in post-war suburbia, most often the shopping strips. To increase the entertainment factor, many of the more animated and trick hazards were added—the courses became more challenging, requiring both skill and timing.
Courses tend to reflect their geographical locations—west coast courses are influenced by Hollywood, grandiose and are fantasy-filled, while East Coast links are smaller, often reflecting historical, literary, or artistic themes.
The sport is now played around the world, and the World Minigolf Sport Federation (WMF) boasts clubs in 24 nations.
The many names of Miniature Golf over the years: Plantation Golf, Wacky Golf, Putt-Putt Golf, Miniature Golf, Goony Golf, Garden Golf, Carpet Golf, Fun Golf, Midget Golf, Goofy Golf, Pint-Pot Golf, Tom Thumb Golf, Mini-Golf, Pigmy Golf, Half-Pint Golf, Jolly Golf, Lilliput Links, Rinkiedink Golf, Adventure Golf, Peewee Golf, Runt Golf.
Miniature golf course have been located in graveyards, using the tombstones as hazards, the New Hampshire State Prison, the Lincoln State Hospital for the Insane, oceanliners, New York penthouse rooftops, empty corner lots, greenhouses, and churches.
Annotated History of the Putting Green
Although other materials such as compressed feathers, oiled sawdust, carpet, clay, hard sand, sponge mixed with cement, and a green dye called “Grassit” were used, these were the industry standards.
1920: Natural grass
1925: Cottonseed hull mixed with oil spread upon a sand foundation
1940: Goat hair felt (concocted out of goat hair and vulcanized rubber)
1960: Indoor/outdoor carpeting and astroturf
A 1930s Los Angles course had a live bear cub as an obstacle. They trained him to go after the balls dipping them in honey.
In The Colossus of Roads, Karal Ann Marling said miniature golf was “the very last of the goofy fads of the twenties.” She also noted that all the fads of the 1920s made participants feel larger than life.
The above facts and history are courtesy of John Margolies’ Miniature Golf.
About the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, a project of the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, is an ideal setting for sculptures of various sizes, from human-scale bronzes to towering constructions in steel. Expanded in 1992, the 11-acre Garden offers visitors from around the world an unusual opportunity to view important 20th-century art out-of-doors.
The original 7.5-acre Garden, made up of four 100-foot-square tree-lined plazas inspired by Renaissance and 18th-century Italian garden models, was designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes, architect of the Walker’s 1971 building, in association with landscape architect Peter Rothschild, of Quennell Rothschild Associates, New York. The 1992 expansion, adding 3.7 acres less formally structured than the original acreage, was designed by the landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The sculptures on view along the Garden’s walkways and in its plazas date from the early 20th century to the present. Styles range from the archetypal organic abstraction of Henry Moore’s Reclining Mother and Child (1960–1961) to the social realism of George Segal’s Walking Man (1988).
A spectacular focal point in the Garden is the 29-foot-high Spoonbridge and Cherry (1987–1988) fountain-sculpture designed by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Spanning a free-form pond in the Garden’s middle sector is a gigantic gray spoon with a Bing-red cherry in its bowl. Visible from all points of the Garden, it has become a symbol for Minneapolis.
Amidst vine-covered arches and changing horticultural displays in the three-part Cowles Conservatory is Frank Gehry’s sculpture Standing Glass Fish (1986). Attracting visitors’ attention, the 25-foot-tall see-through leviathan rises from a lily pond surrounded by palm trees.
The Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge (1988) reflects the vision of the Minneapolis-based artist Siah Armajani. This double-arched footbridge connects the Garden to Loring Park, representing a major link to the downtown area and, subsequently, to the central Minneapolis riverfront. “As far as public art is concerned, that is the best piece I have ever done,” says Armajani. “It doesn’t leave anything unfinished or unresolved. It doesn’t mean it’s the most beautiful thing in the world, but it is unified, it is complete and, for me, that is a gift from God.”
The section added in 1992 contrasts the geometric formality of the original Garden area. The 3.7-acre section features groves of deciduous trees, a rectangular, granite-paved sculpture plaza for rotating exhibitions, a 300-foot-long vine-covered arbor, and a perennial garden. Permanently sited in this area of the Garden are Scott Burton’s Seat-Leg Table (1986/refabricated 1991), Mark di Suvero’s Molecule (1977–1983), and Judith Shea’s Without Words (1988).
Construction Update: We’re open! Enter the Walker through the underground parking garage or Hennepin Avenue doors.