In this edition of Off the Beaten Turf, we visit the city’s newest mini golf course.
In addition to having one of the best museum gift shops in the city and hosting Hill Country BBQ on the west lawn, the National Building Museum just opened an exhibit that solidifies its standing as one of the coolest museums in town. For the next few months, visitors can enjoy themselves at a mini-golf course conceived by area builders, architects and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) from across DC.
The course is located on the first floor of the museum, and is divided into two 9-hole options. Each of the eighteen holes is unique, and has been designed by a different group; here is the list of sponsors and designers.
Even if you’re not a golf fan, it’s worth walking around to check out the holes, some of which are as involved as some of the museum’s exhibits. Concepts include a wind farm, a black box with a hologram of a city grid projected onto a transparent floor, an abstracted representation of Capital Riverfront and Yards Park, and a green roof.
A few are particularly interactive. One hole lights up in response to your actions, and on another, your team partially constructs the course with poles located in specific spots based on your team’s answers to the question “Do you want skyscrapers in DC?” (A hole based around the Height Act seems quite fitting.)
The museum first launched the mini-golf idea last summer. They decided to make it a regular summer event in 2013, and spent a bit more time planning out the concept and inviting sponsors from across the city to participate this year. Brett Rodgers, the museum’s Director of Marketing and Communications, told UrbanTurf that the theme this year was “Building the Future.”
“We wanted to get people engaged with the built environment in a very fun summertime way,” he told UrbanTurf.
The holes vary widely in terms of difficulty level, though Rodgers said that designers were requested to create holes in the par three or four range. While some involve putting in a straight line on a flat surface, others include hazards like a sphere, a rapidly moving treadmill going in the wrong direction, and a topographical watershed map with many irregular dips and curves. Traditional mini-golf challenges, like ramps and bouncing-the-ball-off-of-walls, are also incorporated in many designs.
The course opened last weekend and will be around until Labor Day. While museums are normally delicately set up and carefully tread through, it is liberating to swing a club and knocks some balls around in the hallowed halls of the Building Museum.
More photos below.