High-level mini golf in Minneapolis skyway

  • Article by: MICHAEL RAND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 25, 2013 - 6:44 AM

The U.S. Bank Skyway Open's No. 5 hole, on which the "ball" is actually a piece of chalk.

Navigating the Minneapolis skyway system can be a maze in and of itself. But this past weekend, there were 19 miniature puzzles to solve within that larger maze.

And that was a good thing.

For the seventh year, the downtown above-ground hamster tunnel was host to the U.S. Bank Skyway Open -- a miniature golf course running through many parts of the skyway system. It started in City Center, wove through Gaviidae Common and the IDS Center and finished in the Accenture Tower, which also held a Friday night party for golfers and corporate partners.

A two-day event in past years, the Skyway Open expanded to three days and included Sunday this year to accommodate families who preferred to play during the less-crowded weekends, event co-chair Carrie Dahl said. Family-focused side events this year included face-painting, cookie decorating and a visit from Twins mascot T.C. Bear.

The holes were designed by local businesses -- many of them design or architecture firms -- as part of a win-win event plan. The businesses get exposure from golfers and curious passersby. Skyway dwellers get a pleasant diversion. And money raised from playing the course benefits the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities.

The designers take a significant amount of pride in the holes -- the vast majority of which are new every year -- and it showed along the course, which had a theme of "Imagining 2025: Minneapolis in the Future." The opening hole featured a replica of the Spoonbridge and Cherry from the Sculpture Garden and also required the use of a remote-control car to get the ball into the hole (achieved by yours truly after, um, several attempts).

On hole 5, the golf "ball" was made of chalk and the putting surface was a chalkboard. The idea was that by Sunday the marks from all the shots would create a unique and colorful design. No. 16 -- the signature hole, Dahl said -- was a replica of the Foshay Tower.

Plenty of golfers, too, were in the all-out spirit. Even with a fresh coating of snow outside -- meaning the start of the real golf season is still a long ways off -- plenty of miniature golfers were dressed up in full attire. A few, Dahl said, even brought their own putters.

Now that's dedication to the skyway golf craft.

MICHAEL RAND

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