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Monday, October 5, 2009

Fairway of Dreams: San Francisco Man Takes Advantage of Unemployment to Build a Golf Course in His Backyard

Posted By on Mon, Oct 5, 2009 at 12:01 AM

Greenskeeper Joseph Frankel tees off in his backyard
  • Greenskeeper Joseph Frankel tees off in his backyard
Since we first covered the "funemployment" phenomenon in a June cover story, we here at SF Weekly have been pleasantly surprised again and again by the productive uses to which jobless young San Franciscans are turning their idle hands. From blogging to designing funemployment flare, folks in this city seem inexplicably hellbent on doing creative and useful things instead of turning to drink, television, and despair.

Time to add another all-star to the funemployment hall of fame. His name is Joseph Frankel. He's a 25-year-old resident of the Inner Richmond, via New Jersey, where he grew up. Since he was laid off from a beer distributor at the end of last year, Frankel has actually built a golf course in his back yard.

You don't exactly have to be Tiger Woods to make it on the green in one at the Richmond Country Club, as Frankel and his roommates have dubbed their idyllic golfing enclave, which was previously a fenced-off dirt lot not much bigger than a garage. The club now features several sets of turf for teeing off from different distances, a strip of lawn serving as a fairway, and a rolling green with multiple holes, each of which can be capped when not in use. Frankel has even laid out some turf on the roof of his building, where players can take a swing at their wiffle golf balls (the only kind used at Richmond CC) from par-5 range.

"We made the most of our inner-city backyard," Frankel said. Over the weekend, Richmond CC even held its first tournament -- an event with a $10 buy-in, with all proceeds going to a charity of the winner's choice.

We offer Joe kudos for one hell of a fine idea, and wish him luck in his next venture -- he said he's developing a business plan for a miniature golf course in San Francisco. "It's the only thing that seems recession-proof," he said.

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Peter Jamison


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