The Hayes Valley Historic Miniature Golf Extravaganza
A Temporary Public Art Installation at Patricia's Green in Hayes Valley, San Francisco • Funded by the San Francisco Arts Commission • Scroll to bottom for dates & information
Photographs: Brian W. Jones & Michael Strickland

Eric Von Stroheim's "Greed" was filmed partly on location in Hayes Valley

Center Image: Map showing the buildings that were demolished to build a freeway through Hayes Valley as part of "urban renewal" in the 1950's.

Handmade Golf Clubs made of willow and eucalyptus.

The Hayes Valley Historic Miniature Golf Extravaganza (HVHMGE) was an interpretation of the cultural and physical geography of a San Francisco neighborhood in the form of a participatory game accessible to all ages. Playing the nine hole course told the story of layers of opportunism, related spectacle and struggle, redeemed by recent neighborhood activism leading to the social and economic revitalization of a thriving community. The project was intended to be at once educational, challenging and fun.

We view Hayes Valley as a microcosm of San Francisco, and its neighborhood history as representative of past and present settlement patterns inherent in Westward expansion. Hayes Valley is a contemporary frontier within a frontier city, and the HVHMGE was the public art equivalent of a cinematic Western.

The course travelled through 10,000 years of history, with a recurring theme of sand, the geological substrate upon which the neighborhood is built:

Hole #1 was an homage to the open sand dunes which comprised the interioir of the San Francisco peninsula prior to European settlement.

Hole #2 depicted tracks of animals which would have roamed these dunes, and pays tribute to Ohlone winter camps and related hunting cycles.

Holes # 3 & #4 captured the story of gold rush development, when Colonel Hayes purchased a large tract of dunes, developed a 'pleasure pavillion' and convinced City officials to extend horse drawn train service to the new development. Sand made the land cheap, and horses were the only way to pull trains over the inevitable sand drifts.

Hole #5 was an homage to E V Stroheim's silent, cinematic epic, “Greed”, shot partially on location in Hayes Valley. The bustling, post 1906 earthquake Hayes Valley of the '20's resembled post-gold rush San Francisco, the primary setting and subject of the film.

Hole # 6 traced the path of the proposed (and soon to be built) Central Freeway over a 1950's appraisal map showing buildings slated for demolition. The highway collapsed during the Loma Pietra earthquake of 1989, largely because its pilings were set in sand.

Hole # 7 was an homage to the San Francisco Zen Center, an anchor in the community since the 1950's. Here, sand is seen more as a temporal material, where paths are made and combed away. There was no hole here; no goal.

Hole # 8 featured a model of the Greater Gethsemane Church of God in Christ, a hub of community gathering for the local African American community. The ball dropping into the hole triggered music recorded at an actual church service.

Hole # 9 was a memorial to Patricia Walkup, the community activist who spearheaded efforts to transform the area beneath the collapsed highway into a common green space, portending the Jane Jacobs-inspired revitalization now enjoyed by all.

The nine hole course was free to all, open to the public every other Saturday for a six month period. We also provided a free brochure, explaining the story behind the holes, and invited participants to take a self-guided walking tour, with a map indicating significant sites throughout the neighborhood.

In addition to its primary thrust as an educational and somewhat eccentric romp through neighborhood history, the project explored two minor themes related to other Wowhaus site-specific projects. Sited on a previously vacant city-owned lot adjacent to Hayes Green, the project suggested replicable patterns for using analogous sites, which abound in all urban areas. The project was an exploration of contemporary vernacular and the potential for the built environment to frame dialogue and exchange; it was among a series of Wowhaus efforts to re-invigorate public life by providing wholesome, random interaction between people towards a common goal in a common place.
We were also interested in the potential for craft to 'bring people to their senses'. The individual putters were all handmade, each one with a unique look and feel. Simply playing the game with these handmade clubs invited one to be fully present in space and time in a public place, which, we believe leads inevitably to good stuff.

Click Here to see more photos of the project by Brian W. Jones.
Click Here for a blog by Michael Strickland, a community member: May 13, 2007.

Special thanks to the Progress Foundation, the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association, the Real Estate Division of the City and County of San Francisco Office of the Mayor, San Francisco Department of Recreation & Parks, the Greater Gethsemane Church of God in Christ, Jill Manton, David Stychno, Brian W. Jones, Lee Walkup, Jay Parrish, Joshua Miner, and Bill Martin for their assistance and support.