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Introducing Urban Putt: San Francisco's Only, Suitably Quirky, Mini-Golf Course

By S. Mathur

Urban Putt is San Francisco's only indoor miniature golf course. It has a 14-hole course, two bars and fabulous food, but that's just the beginning of the story. Designers, artists and engineers were set free to create a course that would appeal to city residents and visitors, and they came up with something that looks like a mixture of Jules Verne, carnival and San Francisco landscapes.

Players can putt their way 20,000 leagues under the sea, and through an earthquake, a maze, an 11-foot-high Archimedes screw or bounce the balls off musical instruments including drums, cymbals, and bells.

Steve Fox, Chief Greenskeeper and designer says that "I like to think of Urban Putt as an integrated collection of playable, kinetic sculptures. It is entirely interactive, featuring a collection of crazy mechanisms, Rube Goldberg devices, and artful nods to San Francisco's terrain and history." There is a shop on the premises that turns out the custom made and one-of-a-kind holes and surroundings.

Urban Putt opened in 2014 and the Mission Street location has quickly become a city landmark. Fox himself was a miniature golf fan for a long time, and he and his wife had a tradition of hosting a "bring your own hole" mini-golf party every other year since 1993. When, after thirty-five years in the publishing industry, he decided that he'd had enough, he began working on a business plan for Urban Putt. Turning his passion for mini-golf into a business, he says, gave him a creative way out of publishing.

And then there's the food. Best described as eclectic California comfort food, it includes basics like grilled cheese sandwiches, deep dish pizza, finger foods and organic, soft-serve ice cream. The innovative touches are equally popular.

"My go-to dish is actually an appetizer, the tombo tuna poke, which offers the perfect combination of super fresh tuna, salt, taro chips, and sriracha sauce. I also love the chicken and waffles skewers (and I'm not alone, since they seem to be our customers' consistent top pick)." His favorite drink is the Moscow Mule, which is served on tap.

The miniature golf course is a ready-made setting for fun parties. Fox says that the relaxed environment puts everyone at ease: "Host your party at Urban Putt, and your guests are sure to have fun, without any awkwardness or discomfort, even if it's a disparate group of party-goers. By the end of the event, everyone will be best friends." There even a home-built photobooth where you can take goofy pictures to commemorate your visit.

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