Set building skills put to the test with a mini-golf course

Written by Lee:

Last month I landed my dream job–I got to help artist Rosten Woo build  a mini-golf course for a public exhibition called “The Back 9” in downtown LA.  Dreamy not only because of the necessary “research” trips to the Sherman Oaks Castle Park, but also because I got to tap into old techniques and materials from my set-building and interactive exhibit building days.

It’s been years since I got to say the words “wiggle wood” let alone bend a sheet of it around a curved platform and trim it to size with a jig saw. Not to mention the long forgotten joys of 1/8″ tolerances, paint grade finishes, and drywall screws! Ahhhh.

But besides being a nice reprieve from fine furniture building, the best thing about working on this project was its dynamic social impact.  Woo was commissioned by the Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD, irony intended) to design a golf course which would function both as a set for LAPD community theater performances and as a stand alone educational tool for the general public. Through each of the nine holes on the course, players explore a different aspect of local zoning laws and how they have affected housing access, density and wealth distribution in the Skid Row neighborhood. The project has gotten a lot of great press, which means it not only is bringing needed attention to a complex issue, but it is actually having an impact on how current zoning policy is being made.

The Back 9 is playable and open to the public on Thursday, Friday, Saturday from 2-5pm from now until October 28 at The Skid Row History Museum & Archive, 250 S. Broadway, Los Angeles CA 90012. You can also contact LAPD at [email protected] to set up group tours for friends or colleagues on off hours.

To read more about Offerman Woodshop’s involvement in Skid Row, see the Mobile Skid Row Outreach Carts in our portfolio, or read Matty’s blog post about our collaborations with the Skid Row wood working social enterprise, Would-Works.