ALAMEDA -- Subpar Miniature Golf, which opened Saturday on Park Street, aims to be anything but that, according to owner and manager Michael Taft.
"We want this to be a great addition to Alameda," he said. "I love the community and only want to enhance it."
The new establishment offers visitors the chance to play 18 holes of mini-golf on a Bay Area-themed course. It also includes arcade games and other amusement options, like Dance Dance Revolution.
The course, Taft says, has been built almost entirely by hand by local artists. He lives in the Cottonwood Studios, which serves as an artistic incubator just across the Alameda-Oakland Estuary, and that's where he hatched the plan with a friend.
"It came from an idea about what to do with some materials after an art show. As an afterthought, we said, 'Let's do a mini-golf course,' and since there are none in the area, I knew it was a smart idea and worth giving a try."
With 8,600 square feet of space, the course and arcade games cover a lot of territory. The course's highlights include holes that demand that a player get the ball to move through a large windmill (like those in the Altamont Pass), across the Park Street Bridge, into a Napa Valley wine press, through the MacArthur Maze, down Lombard Street, over Russian Hill and in and out of the Winchester Mystery House.
The creative force behind the course is Kelly Alterman, a longtime Alameda resident, according to assistant
For guests Charlotte Wills and her family, "It's really enjoyable," the Alameda resident said. "We originally came here from the East Coast, where people really love mini-golf."
"Mr. Renewable nearly knocked me in the face," said son Jackson, 11, pointing to the large windmill. "My favorite hole was the one with the Coit Tower, and I like the new Bay Bridge. It's kind of cool."
To play on the 18-hole course, Subpar charges $7-$9 for the first round most days, with discounts for more rounds and for all rounds on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Guests who aren't interested in mini-golf can try their hand at pinball, skeeball, air hockey and some video games, says Taft.
"We've booked a bunch of parties already," said the owner. "And we had excellent traffic for our grand opening. We've very happy."