Walker on the Green: Mini-golf offers spectacle, requires strategy
This challenge is pretty tricky
Don't Blow It photo by Tatiana Craine
Mini-golf is a time-honored summertime tradition for many, but unless you want to drive out to the suburbs or further, it can be hard to find a good puu-putt course in the Twin Cities. Enter Walker on the Green, a yearly installment featuring artist-designed holes to be played on the Sculpture Garden's lawn.
This year's event features two courses composed of nine holes. As with any good mini-golf experience, players will be expected to strategize while enjoying the spectacle.
Both courses this summer offer a blend of new holes and old favorites. You may remember Garden Gnome Foosball, a hole that is interactive in more than one way, as golfers must tap their ball up a ramp onto a foosball table where players can knock the ball toward (or away from) the hole. Gopher Hole, also back from last year, invites participants to drop their ball down a large, funnel-like contraption where it tunnels under the green and pop up, wack-a-mole-style. Holy Lighted is still a lovely hole, that looks like it belongs in the Sculpture Garden year-round. It's also worth taking an extra few strokes on Aaron Dysart's Rock! Garden. if only to hear the different sounds that come out of the glittery rocks, which serve as obstacles, angling tools, and musical instruments.
Are these gnomes your friend or foe?
Garden Gnome Foosball, Tatiana Craine
With each season comes new holes from designers and artists. Putt R. Mutt pays homage to Marcel Duchamp's Fountain. It's not a particularly challenging hole (basically you just need to hit the ball in a straight line), but it serves as a nice nod to the Walker's permanent collection, and the silliness of aiming your ball through a urinal makes for some tongue-in-cheek fun.
Also new this year is Snake Bite! Where players must putt their ball into the mouth of a large rattlesnake, then watch as it winds through its body then back onto the green. The ball moves a little slow on this one, and this may slow down lines on a busy night, but it's still a fun hole, with an interactive snake rattle to play with while you watch the kinetic magic. Don't Blow It is an eye-catching piece made to look like a giant bubblegum machine. It's a tough one to putt through, however, mainly because there is a rift in the green between the ramp and the putting starting point that sends the ball back to players the majority of the time. This can get a little frustrating, and the payoff appears to be the same whether you land your ball in the hole or the trough, but it's still rewarding to watch the ball disappear once you get it going.
While the average putt-putt course requires players to wait their turn, one of the fun things about the Walker's greens is that many require group participation. For example, with Be a Sculpture! players are required to stand on course in various spots, creating new obstacles with each putt (or even helping your friends, if you're in a non-competitive group).
All in all, Walker on the Green offers wholesome fun. It makes for a fun afternoon with kids, or an adorable summer date. They also serve hot dogs, wine, and beer at a little food truck near the entrance of the course, and there are picnic tables and outdoor couches available for lounging.
IF YOU GO:
Walker on the Green: Artist-Designer Mini Golf Through September 1 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sundays-Wednesdays. $12; $18 for the full course. Every ticket includes free gallery admission. For weather-related and course closure information, call 612.375.7697.
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