Hub-Bub hopes its latest project is a hole-in-one for downtown Spartanburg.
The nonprofit has announced a public-private partnership with the city of Spartanburg and an anonymous donor to build a miniature golf course on a vacant lot on East Main Street. The lot is just a few doors down from Growler Haus and is next to Venus Beauty Supply.
Construction of the nine-hole course is slated to begin early next week, said Eric Kocher, executive director of Hub-Bub. Preliminary work had begun Thursday morning.
The holes, each with a Spartanburg theme, have been designed by Hub-Bub artist-in-residence Robin Schwartzman.
“Just the idea brings me joy,” Kocher said. “That's what Hub-Bub is supposed to be doing. I feel super grateful that people put a lot of money into this, and the amount of support and time they've given has been profound.”
The property is owned by Johnson Development Associates, Kocher said. The city of Spartanburg is chipping in about $30,000 to the project, about a third of the total cost, city spokesman Will Rothschild said.
“With a growing number of people visiting downtown Spartanburg every day, week and month, there is a corresponding rising level of ideas for new businesses, activities and amenities to serve those people,” Rothschild said in an email. “The mini golf course on Broad and Main streets will be a fun addition to downtown that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and we're looking forward to it opening. We are working on an arrangement that would ensure the amenity is open and free to the public. In that scenario, the city would absorb about a third of the cost of the development.”
Officials say the course will be complete in July.
Schwartzman, the course designer, has been living in Spartanburg since January, when her residency with Hub-Bub began. She's worked on several large-scale public art projects and commissions in Minneapolis and makes it a point to play miniature golf wherever she travels, documenting the courses on a blog, acoupleofputts.com.
Since Schwartzman loves the 1960s kitsch of mini golf, she was drawn to the iconic drive-in signs of The Beacon and Sugar-N-Spice when she came to Spartanburg and incorporated those designs into the course.
A replica of the Daniel Morgan statue watches over a green on the course. There is also a tribute to Spartanburg County's seven colleges featuring their logos, and a bicycle-themed hole as a nod to the Mary Black Rail Trail and Partners for Active Living. PAL donated a bicycle as the obstacle, and a player can pedal the bike, which is bolted into place, to keep an opponent's ball away from the hole.
The first green is shaped like the Palmetto state. Other holes feature Glendale Shoals, Hub-Bub's Love Where You Live campaign and Spartanburg's history as a railway hub, leading to its Hub City nickname. That hole includes a piece of donated railroad track and crossing sign.
Schwartzman said she thinks the Love Where You Live hole, the last on the course, will be the most challenging, since it involves a jump and a volcano obstacle. The Hub City crossing will also be difficult, since players will have to not only cross the railroad track but battle a slope as well.
Obstacles are being fabricated by local blacksmith Josh Moore and Kevin Belue of K. Riley Designs. Schwartzman will be joined by local artists Russell Bannan, Aimee Wise and Eli Blasko in painting a glittering mural, Sparkle City Mini Putt, on the east-facing wall of the course.
“I like that art can be entwined in this game,” Schwartzman said. “It makes it accessible. And this course is free and open to the public. There's no barriers and I'm really excited about that.”
Work on the mural should begin Tuesday night, when the artists project the image onto the brick to stencil it as they did for the Love Where You Live mural on Spring Street downtown.
The course will occupy the back part of the lot, closest to Broad Street, Kocher said. Trees will also be planted on the lot.
“We tried to preserve as much (green space) as we could,” Kocher said. “We're not replacing one of our grass lots with another concrete one.”
Hub-Bub Chairman William Gray said the mini golf announcement builds on the success of last weekend's Slide the City, which his group assisted in coordinating. He said it should be a great attraction for downtown for all age groups.
The original plan was for Schwartzman to create a temporary course for the summer. But enthusiasm for a more permanent project grew quickly, Gray said.
“The minute Robin walked in the door with her renderings, everyone said, 'We've got to do this,'” Gray said.