forward! Substandard mini golf is back

The website for the Alameda sequel is due to open this week.

Prepare for the first strike, Alameda. Poor quality mini golf returned to the city. It is bigger, better and on the verge of a long-awaited opening. Golfers will soon be able to play 18 holes (technically 19) of familiar local landmarks, from the Caldecott Tunnel to a real VW beetle called the “Berkeley Beetle”.

Alameda Post - Subpar Mini Golf reception under construction
The front desk will soon welcome golfers. Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

Mini Golf Subpar is back

Subpar Marketing Director Jon Sanchez invited Alameda Post to view its newly landscaped field at 1600 Park Street in anticipation of its soft opening later this week. He shared, “If our permits are granted on Wednesday, the doors will open as early as Thursday.”

So, a lot has happened since Subpar first opened at its original location in 2012. So, before we get to the photos of the new premises, we’ll give you a quick look at the last 10 years.

Overcoming obstacles

Alameda Post - Steph Curry and James Corden play golf indoors
Steph Curry and James Corden having fun at the original Subpar location in 2017. CBS photo.

For starters, Subpar came into the spotlight when basketball legend Stephen Curry played a game of mini golf on his course with Late Late Show host James Corden. Viral segment, which also features Curry and Corden singing Disney songs in the car, has over 12.7 million views. This was in the spring of 2017.

By the end of that year, the lease at the original Alameda location was coming to an end and could only be renewed for another year. Owner and founder Mike Taft attempted to relocate his business to the South Shore Center but, inexplicably, was unable to secure a lease there from another tenant, Ross Dresse, for less. The incident was a disappointment for Taft and his team, and caused great resentment in the community. Subpar’s original Park Street location was closed on November 20, 2018 with no new work underway.

During the same two-year period, officials at Ghirardelli Square contacted Taft and offered to hold a private course at the San Francisco tourist center, which he did. This course getting strong on the bottom square square.

The city’s favorite is back

Alameda Post - arcade games
Subpar will include arcade games in addition to a new mini golf course. Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

Now, luckily for us, Taft and his team have never forgotten where Subpar originated, even as the pandemic put a stop to its search for a new location on the island. When Walgreens left the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Park Street, a huge space and opportunity opened up in front of it. Taft eventually took over the former pharmacy at 1600 Park Street and announced on Facebook that a new Subpar minigolf would be built in its place. It was January of this year.

Subpar’s new indoor space is over 16,000 square feet, double its original location. In addition, there is an adjacent parking lot for 52 allocated spaces. The previous location, which opened on another block of Park Street in August 2012, had only metered street parking.

The original course was about the Bay, the Ghirardelli Square course is San Francisco, and the new course is about Alameda County. Yes, they included holes specific to the city of Alameda.

Better than ever

Alameda Post - pinball machines and other arcade games
Guests can play pinball and Pac-Man during their visit. Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

As you will see in the photos, the new course features high concept and details that will delight visitors of all ages. There is nothing “low quality” about this place. All at the highest level. This is a carefully designed space that has learned from its past. For example, built-in glow-in-the-dark elements and LED lights have been included at the design level, unlike before. This time there is a kitchen where food will be served as well as beer and wine.

The long wait was worth it. This is the indoor mini golf course, party venue and arcade center that our island city deserves. And don’t worry, the Alameda Subpar Minigolf will be around for a long time to come. It is on lease for 16 years.

Take a look at your new family mecca

Your East Bay mini golf journey starts at the Caldecott Tunnel.

Alameda Post - mini golf hole with arched tunnels.
Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

As you progress through the course, you will be taken to the Chabot Space & Science Center observatory. The top opens and a light show is planned!

Alameda Post - A mini golf hole similar to the dome of the Shabo Space Science Center.
Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

Next up is the “tectonic time bomb” known as the Hayward Fault Line.

Alameda Post - Rough terrain for hole #4 at Subpar Miniature Golf.
Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

This scaled wind turbine at Altamont Pass has been moved from its original location.

Alameda Post - Windmill on minigolf hole
Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

Taft and his team jokingly call it the “disco pillar,” but it’s actually a picture of a fusion reactor at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Alameda Post - a golf hole under construction with a reflective metal structure.
Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

Next comes Sunol Water Temple with all 12 Corinthian columns. A real Roman-style temple is located where three local water sources converge, providing half of San Francisco’s water supply.

Alameda Post is the pillared temple model in Subpar Miniature Golf.
Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

The Subpara Temple features the famous yellow submarine moving over this water source.

Post Alameda - painted whirlpool and yellow submarine.
Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

The Auckland Zoo is represented by a majestic elephant.

Alameda Post - A large, realistic statue of an elephant overseeing the golf holes.
Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

Players can launch their golf balls – and watch them fall – on a scaled-down loop-by-loop rollercoaster, an homage to Alameda’s long-vanished Neptune Beach.

Alameda Post is a recreation of an old wooden roller coaster.
Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

This course includes the most requested Subpar feature, USS Hornet and its flight deck.

Alameda Post - A mini golf hole that looks like the smooth top of a ship's flight deck.
Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

It’s time to leave the Alameda site via the Posey Tube.

Alameda Post - Posey Tube recreation at Subpar mini golf.
Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

The Fairyland Big Boot is the perfect shape to go through everything.

Alameda Post - statue of a shoe with a house-like roof
Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

And it will be part of the larger Lake Merritt feature.

The Alameda Post is a mini golf course made entirely of blue material, reminiscent of Lake Merritt.
Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

If you’re on Lake Merritt, it’s close to downtown Auckland with its tall office buildings and the Tribune Tower.

Alameda Post - a copy of the center of Auckland with tall skyscrapers.
Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

And what image of Auckland would be complete without its port?

Alameda Post - A replica of the Port of Oakland, including a large container crane.
Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

The hole in the Oakland tree is quite a design feat. It consists of 27 layers and glows in different colors at night.

Alameda Post - Golfers have to hit the ball through a 3D version of the Oakland Tree logo.
Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

UCLA alumni will be delighted to see the UC Berkeley, California Memorial Stadium showcased.

Alameda Post is a replica of the Subpar Miniature Golf stadium.
Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

Hole #18 is a real throwback!

Alameda Post - Painted VW Beetle
Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

But wait, there’s another one. If you can get a hole in one of #19 you will get a free game. But that’s not all. Local artists will have the opportunity to display their sculptures here. Jan Fabre and Michael Favagrossa took first place with their piece called “The Sapling”.

Alameda Post is another mini golf hole at Subpar Miniature Golf.
Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

In addition to a 19-hole mini golf course, Subpar Miniature Golf has an arcade with plenty of options including a dance game, pinball machines and a laser maze.

Alameda Post - arcade games, including a dance game.
Photo by Rusty Blasenhoff.

Rusty Blasenhoff is a recovering East Coaster who still enjoys what our great island has to offer. Contact her at [email protected]. Her writings are collected in

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