Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
Imagine having to navigate putts around piles of dog shit or the occasional swinging sausage. No, you wouldn’t be at the seediest golf course this side of Sin City; you’d be at “The Tour of Arlington Classic Mini-Putter” at Arlington’s Ellipse Art Center.
From July 1 to Aug. 13, the center will host the playable nine-hole miniature-golf-themed exhibition, designed by area artists. “We wanted to get people into the gallery,” says Mary Briggs, director of Cultural Development Initiatives for Arlington County. “We figured, it’s summertime, it’s going to be hot, and hopefully if we had an indoor course, people would come.”
Proposals were due Feb. 23, and the only stipulation was that the holes “speak toward some historic site in Arlington,” says Jody Isaacson, Ellipse’s co-curator.
And apparently, nothing speaks to Arlington County history better than a doo-spotted park. “In this area, everyone’s crazy about not having dogs poop in their yards,” says David Amoroso, Arlington resident and creator of Hole No. 4, Pooper Scooper. “I wanted it to be a real obstacle.”
Under Amoroso’s plan, putters at his hole will receive a free plastic baggie with every hole in one. “Whee!” he exclaims. “But the way the holes are…designed, I don’t even know if it’s possible to get a hole in one. I don’t know if that makes us illegally operating.”
That’s a question for the engineers at the Arlington County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources who constructed the layouts. Parks Division carpenters are building the basic structures, and the artists will add their conceptual elements and obstacles in early June.
Winners were awarded $1,000 in county funds for their efforts, an amount that Amoroso jokingly translates into “a lot of rubber poo.” (He’s hoping to scoop up his obstacles at Spencer Gifts or Archie McPhee.) “But really,” says the 42-year-old painter and employment-development specialist, “it’s a break-even project. It’s about the fun of doing something this ridiculous.”
And ridiculousness can come from anywhere. Though most of the chosen are professional or semiprofessional artists, the designers of Hole No. 3, WARL Radio, are just “three really crazy people,” laughs Briggs. “We thought, We’ve got to give them a shot.”
The hole in question commemorates WARL-AM, former home to such country greats as Jimmy Dean and Patsy Cline. Creators Jim Doyle, Kelly Parkhill, and Ellie Shea’s plan pays tribute to the station with a 6-foot aluminum radio tower and a swinging wood or foam Jimmy Dean “sausage,” to be attached to an altered baby swing. The group’s proposal helpfully noted: “Re: motorized swing—please imagine cute baby as a cuddly pork sausage.”
The opening day of the show will feature popcorn, hot dogs, and Arlington luminaries making the first putts. For the show’s six weeks, adults ($2) and children ($1) can putt their way through not only poo and sausage, but also Lubber Run, Galaxy Putt, and Bob Peck Chevrolet.
After Aug. 13, the exhibition will move to the Arlington County Fair, and after that, well, “if folks want to buy [pieces]…that is of course up to the artists,” says Briggs, breaking into a laugh.
“I don’t know what we’ll do with the greens and fairways. Let me know if you’re interested.” —Anne Marson
“The Tour of Arlington Classic Mini-Putter” runs from July 1 to Aug. 13 at Ellipse Art Center, 4350 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington. For more information, call (703) 228-7710.