Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

This Mini Golf Course in Williamsburg Makes a Hole in One for Climate Awareness

Part mini golf course, part art installation, Putting Green teaches players the ins and outs of climate change through playful learning.
Near the entrance of Putting Green stands a massive Earth golf ball made from recycled bottle caps and leftover astroturf from the course’s construction. Credit: Katey St John / BK Reader

The gates are finally open, and Putting Green is ready to teach more Brooklynites about climate change through its informational, locally-designed mini golf course in Williamsburg.

“Climate change can be a very complicated, serious topic," said Mike Lampariello, the course’s general manager. "We think introducing the different elements of climate change through something fun like a mini golf course makes it a little easier to digest.”

Community partners including artists, nonprofits and even high school students designed each hole of the course.

While Putting Green started as a kind of “pandemic project” for Two Trees Management, it turned into a community-driven collaborative project to bring awareness to a variety of climate change issues. 

As visitors put their way through the course, they can read information at each hole and learn about various components of climate change. For example, the ninth hole discusses the planet’s receding snow and ice cover. In this hole, players walk through glacial walls made of recycled plastic. Another hole, which centers on the importance of composting, features a real compost pile in the center.

Beyond design, the materials of the course also tie into climate change and sustainability. For example, the course's decking consists of repurposed wood sourced directly from the old Domino Sugar Factory.

“It’s amazing,” one woman said as she pushed her stroller over the recycled wooden boards. “It’s sad and amazing at the same time.”

Along with the repurposed wood, artist Kim Holleman used 100-year-old bricks also from the Domino Sugar Factory for her hole called “Down The Drain.”

“I thought it was really important to reuse as many of those materials as possible and recontextualize them and give them new life,” Holleman said.

Holleman designed Hole #1 as an interactive “utopian garden” to give players an “ah-ha” moment. Just as visitors take in the beauty of their surroundings—the Manhattan skyline, the East River, the Williamsburg Bridge—they wind around the curve of the bricks and stumble upon a pile of trash. The debris represents litter in New York City streets, which inevitably washes into storm drains and our waterways.

“The whole thing comes together as a realization,” Holleman said.

"Down the Drain" at Putting Green
Kim Holleman's "Down the Drain" at Putting Green uses bricks from the old Domino Sugar Factory.

Putting Green sits in a secluded, scenic area off Kent Avenue. As the course overlooks the East River, even its location intertwines with the theme of climate change. Although the East River endures a reputation for hazardously polluted water, New York has made large strides towards cleaning the river. Now, the East River is the cleanest it’s been since the Civil War. 

Proceeds from the course will benefit the Newtown Creek Alliance and the Wildlife Conservation Society. Putting Green also partnered with small Brooklyn businesses Mom & Icepops and Other Half Brewing to offer cold, local treats for both children and adults.

“We’re really excited to welcome kids, families and adults back to play mini golf,” Lampariello said.

Katey St. John

About the Author: Katey St. John

Katey St John is a journalist, documentary filmmaker, activist, and baker whose passions lie where food and sustainability intersect.
Read more