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Did You Know You Can Play a 9-Hole Portland-Themed Mini-Golf Course?
Their course is a hamster-sized tour of the city, from Big Pink to a backyard chicken coop to a stunning miniature of the iconic St. Johns Bridge.
By Martin Cizmar
Miniature golf lends itself to creative design. Not just the windmills and moats of the courses you played as a kid, but also the artsy kind you see in Portland from time to time. Putt-putt has been the subject of an art show at Holocene nightclub, local brewpubs and, now, even the city's Sunday Parkways.
Sunday Parkways turns 10 this year. To celebrate the event, which closes streets to automobiles in neighborhoods around town so cyclists and pedestrians can enjoy them for the day, the city commissioned two local artists to create an eight-hole putt-putt course that pops up on closed streets.
"It's a special year—we wanted to start engaging the public in active place-making," says Leah Treat, director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. "This is the result of some creative thinking from staff wondering how to engage with the public on subjects important to us."
The city tapped Vicki Wilson and John Larsen, award-winning putt-putt designers with a background in public art, who once spearheaded their neighborhood's efforts to create the Twilight dance club mural you see on the old Phoenix Pharmacy building on Southeast Foster Road.
The pair's place-making is literal—their course is a hamster-sized tour of the city, from Big Pink to a backyard chicken coop to a stunning miniature of the iconic St. Johns Bridge.
Wilson says she put about 300 hours into the project, and thinks Larsen did about the same.
"It's possible it could be much more, and totally impossible that it could be any less," she says. "It was supposed to be nine holes, but there was just no way. There was supposed to be one grand finale hole that would have just killed [John]."
The results, though, are very impressive. We watched dozens of people play through on a 100-plus-degree Sunday in North Portland, all with big smiles on their faces. If all goes well, more art installation pop-ups could be coming to the already wildly popular Parkways events, meaning there will be more to see and do.