The Golden Door Mini-Golf course has been quite an attraction for downtown Jersey City residents, young and old, who wanted to get in some putting fun. But the fun’s over, because the course near Hamilton Park shut down officially at a closing party/fundraiser Tuesday night.
About 50 people attended the event, playing a nine-hole course designed by various artists.
The course opened in late June as a fund raising scheme to benefit the Jersey City Museum on Montgomery Street in downtown Jersey City. Since then, the course has been open to the public for a $5 fee, with the goal of raising $100,000. Tuesday’s event was the Golden Door’s last attempt to raise more money for the museum.
Local developers, the brothers Paul and Eric Silverman, helped make the course a reality by donating their land for the course, as well as helping to bring the artists together. Paul Silverman said on Tuesday that the approximately $80,000 raised from the course went toward the museum’s operations.
The museum raised $80,000 from the mini-golf course.
It has also been in financial difficulty since last year, when it suffered over $400,000 in funding cuts and had to lay off its full-time staff.
At one point, the museum was opened only one day a week, but it recently reverted back to a four-day-a-week operation schedule. Also, a new chairman, Benjamin Dineen, was appointed to the museum’s board of trustees. However, there is currently no executive director for the museum. Dineen could not be reached for comment about the Golden Door’s closing.
Meanwhile, the land is slated for a 200-unit residence to eventually be built by the Silverman brothers.
As for the artist-designed holes, they are being taken apart, with some to be used by the local theater group, Arthouse Productions, as stage sets for future shows.
Museum’s last shots
Silverman, attired in a classic golf outfit of a white shirt, checkered knickers, and matching hat, was playing with a party of five. He took a break to talk about helping the museum as a major donor during tough financial times.
“Museums, as well as schools and any other cultural pieces of the community, make for a successful neighborhood,” Silverman said.
“The museum is not just on Montgomery Street, but should be in hotel lobbies, office buildings, in schools, and in outdoor places like this golf course,” Silverman said.
The museum has done joint ventures in recent years to show art at locations such as the Majestic Condominiums building on Montgomery and Grove streets (which the Silvermans built) and the Mack-Cali Building on Christopher Columbus Drive.
Nathan Sambul was part of Silverman’s group, playing a round of golf with his wife Nancy.
For six years until this past June, Sambul was the chairman of the museum’s board. The museum is a 501©3 non-profit institution whose operations are overseen by a board of trustees. Sambul said the golf course was a “viable approach” to helping the museum.
Sambul, however, could not answer questions about the current operations of the museum, referring those questions to the current board. He did offer why the museum suffered financially as it did, saying it was because of the “worst recession” since 1928 that has put a stop to corporate and government donors.
Later in the event, Marlene Sandcamp and her husband Anthony, who live a few blocks from the museum, came out to show their support. Mrs. Sandcamp suggested a way the museum can connect more with the art community to ensure its survival.
“They have a great theater, but the space just needs to be expanded,” said Sandcamp, a professional actress. “More plays could be put on there, bringing more people into the museum.”
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at email@example.com.