The Van Goghs of Putt-Putt

Haul out the Stimpmeter—artists design two local miniature golf courses

Each of the latter's mini-golf holes are fronted by a small sign with artist commentary on their creations: "a place for communal dreaming," says one; another proclaims its "alternative applications for materials." Heady rhetoric abounds, even if the course isn't nearly as integrated into its surroundings as the Putting Lot. As isolated sculptural pieces, some holes on Governors Island worked better than others: Particularly beautiful is Benjamin Jones and Anna Hecker's sinuous, strong, and decoupaged 12th hole, inspired by Coney Island's Cyclone. The New York City Dreaming Commission's 60-foot-long, straight-shot 5th hole is a simple yet smart minimalist respite from putt-putt's deliberate obstructions.

A cause for the yips at the Putting Lot
Jackie Snow
A cause for the yips at the Putting Lot


The Putting Lot
12 Wyckoff Avenue, Brooklyn

'City of Dreams' Mini Golf
Governors Island

But making discrete works of art is hardly the point at either course. Instead, it's to create low-cost or free entertainment that also provides an opportunity to reflect on current and future urban spaces. But not literally. Donald Trump once built a miniature golf course in Central Park with holes fashioned after New York City landmarks, and it costs at least $200,000 to license an official Putt-Putt® franchise. The Putting Lot and City of Dreams Mini Golf respond to the sport's various clichés by envisioning a less readily branded kind of fun.

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