Golf, meet Digbeth. Digbeth, this is golf.
Mind-altering holes guaranteed
"I don't know what to look at," says our designer, wide-eyed and jaw-dropped. He's equally in love and in shock. He can't process the visual delirium. His head is shaking in disbelief, but his smile betrays the overriding emotion that we're all feeling: Unmitigated joy. We're being shown around all 18-holes of the new Ghetto Golf venue, a dystopian brain-blend of two owners, one art co-ordinator, and over 150 individual street artists. Where to begin? Where the hell to begin?
Here. A leather-clad statue is draped over a wooden block outside a re-imagined, disused Blockbuster video store. A tribute to the movie Pulp Fiction, 'The Gimp' is about to be caged, holding him in his new home, which opened at the Custard Factory yesterday. His permanent view? A small patch of crazy golf on which thousands of Brummies will soon play their way around their childhoods, around their nightmares, around their fears and around their dreams. The term 'crazy golf' isn't crazy enough. This is golf from the minds of the wildly berserk and brilliantly mad.
Over £4000 has been spent on spray paint alone. Only a little less was spent on an actual working bus through the middle of which Hole 3 is carved. It was driven down from Liverpool to Digbeth. From the home of the first ever Ghetto Golf to the home of the second. "We earmarked a few cities to launch venue two," explains co-owner Daniel Bolger. "But when we saw Digbeth, we knew." The two creators are lifelong friends and master-makers. Rummaging through skips and trawling Facebook Marketplace, knocking on doors and making calls, they've created an indoor golfing experience that features retro gaming characters, ten pin bowling alleys, chicken coops, basketball courts, skate ramps and bathtubs. One hole is a working pub at which you can stop and have a pint, while you watch fellow golfers hole-up.
Expect ramps, twists, turns. Putt through tunnels and have your ball spat out onto an entirely different level. On one hole, we sh*t you not, there's a motion sensor that recognises you're reaching for your putted ball and it'll trigger a ghost train-esque pop-up that'll scare the bejeezus out of you. "We've got a tribute to Mr Egg coming," says Christopher 'Kip' Piper. "We had no idea what Mr Egg was, but when all the local artists told us all about it, we knew we had to work it into the course somehow."
Some of Brum's best street artists have assisted with the decor. So popular was working on Ghetto Golf to Digbeth's graffiti crew that a rota was required to add some order to the arty chaos. "They're given a lot of freedom," says Kip. "But we do have our art co-ordinator, Mark Sergeant, who adds a loose narrative to proceedings. Every now and again I'll catch Mark looking at a single wall for 15 minutes, lost in his own creation. There's a neon area that's basically Mark's brain in wall form. It's such a popular section of the course that we've had to keep the holes short so people don't while away hours in there. Lost in Mark's weird mind."
"When joiners come in to help us," adds Dan showing us one of the few unfinished holes, "the first thing we tell them is to forget everything they know about joinery. You won't need that spirit level here, pal. We don't want perfect corners or smoothed edges. Save that for Auntie Phyllis's new en-suite."
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