Mini golf course shows neighborhood history

A new public art installation in Hayes Valley makes learning neighborhood history fun — and offers a chance for visitors to work on their putting game.

Built on plywood bases and featuring replicas of historic neighborhood buildings and landmarks, the temporary and somewhat homemade-looking Hayes Valley Historic Miniature Golf Extravaganza opened quietly Saturday as dozens of residents came out to putt around.

Built on a vacant lot located on Octavia Boulevard between Fell and Linden streets — an area once hidden below the now-demolished Central Freeway — the eight-hole course gives golfers the opportunity to putt a ball through a representation of the dunes that once covered Hayes Valley, as well as aim toward an image of Patricia Walkup, a passionate neighborhood activist who passed away last summer.

Other holes represent the Hayes Pavilion, an entertainment complex built by Col. Thomas Hayes in the 1850s; the Hayes Valley Railway; the American Indian Ohlone that once inhabited the region; the removed Central Freeway; a dentist’s office used as a location for the 1924 film “Greed”; the local Greater Gethsemane Church of God in Christ; and the San Francisco Zen Center (which, according to the course instructions, has “no hole — no goal”).

Initial response was positive, said Paul Olsen, president of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association.

Funded through a $20,000 grant provided by the San Francisco Arts Commission, the golf course was created by the husband-and-wife team of Scott Constable and Ene Osteraas — the founders of Wowhaus, which in recent years has worked on projects including the Copia Kids Garden in Napa and a series of murals commissioned by the city of Stockton.

Constable said the idea for the historically focused golf course came from Wowhaus’ research into Hayes Valley as well as visits to the area.

“Looking around the neighborhood, we looked at what people were doing … they were having fun and eating and shopping,” Constable said. “So we thought what was missing was a sense of context, what’s going on here and what’s happened in the past.”

Constable and Osteraas will be on hand to run the course, which will only be open on alternate Saturdays, from 1 to 5 p.m., from now through September 15. Olsen said his organization is lobbying the artists and The City to allow volunteers to run the course every Saturday and Sunday.

An official celebration of the course will be held on May 26.

beslinger@examiner.com


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