In Detroit, Mini Golf Meets The Zombiepocalypse

Down for a little putt-putt, Motor City style? Forget about taking a shot through the windmill, under the bridge or through that revolving door. Forget about the plastic animals, the astroturf, or even paying a fee. Mini golf at the Urban Put-Put course under construction on 14th Street in Detroit‘s Corktown neighborhood is, perhaps, the type of pastime one might enjoy between rounds of picking off zombies in some post-apocalyptic vision of urban decay.

Spearheaded by a group of graphic design and architecture students from a Lawrence Tech University sculpture class, the Urban Put-Put course offers players the opportunity to shoot a ball through a salvaged car wreck, a burned-out house and even an abandoned toilet. You also have the opportunity to really perfect your game, as the putter is chained to the ground at every hole, and you can play every day for free.

Urban Put-Put, Detroit

image via Urban Put-Put

Deadline Detroit reports that while the idea was originally proposed by Associate Professor Steven Coy, it’s his students who have taken on the challenge of branding, marketing, fundraising, designing and building the course. We can imagine that the proposal’s appeal to art and architecture students has not only to do with its unique aesthetics, but the idea of urbanizing a “sport” more typically associated with suburbs and tourist traps.

Of course, in making free mini golf a reality in poverty-plagued Detroit, steps had to be taken to make it somewhat vandal-proof — and even to plan for such an eventuality. “We don’t need to babysit it,” said Coy.

By way of example, the bicycle obstacles that golfers putt through have been sunk into cement so they can survive beatings, spray paint and speeding golf balls alike. Durable materials like cement and metal were chosen for the project, which will be open to both the elements and the whims of passersby. That latter of which, incidentally, had an impact on the construction of the park.

Early in the semester, Coy’s students had 2,000 pounds of recycled scrap materials stolen — or, you could say (as they did) “re-scrapped.” Then there was the time someone discovered their abandoned toilet — and put it to use. Undeterred, the students cleaned it out and redesigned the hole so the toilet could be sealed shut. Point taken.

Despite these and other setbacks, Urban Put-Put should be up and running soon.


Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

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