SEVEN holes have appeared in the garden behind York Art Gallery.

So have a shed newly painted blue and white, golf putters, red balls and beermats bearing the words Doug Fishbone's Leisure Land Golf. Welcome to "the best mini golf course in York", and a course with a difference to boot, forming the city's newest and most unusual sporting attraction.

The beermats are the official scorecard for New York artist Doug Fishbone's verdant collision of crazy golf, art installations and political comment in a rare quiet corner of York city centre.

Doug, a self-confessed hopeless player, was in his brightest yellow golfing jumper for the launch, newly arrived from London. "It felt a bit odd walking through King's Cross dressed like that," he said, after suffering in the name of golf fashion for his art.

York Press:

Doug Fishbone stands by Yinka Shonibare's mushroom cloud hole on his Leisure Land Golf course at York Art Gallery. Picture: Frank Dwyer

His Leisure Land Golf made its debut at the 2015 Venice Biennale and was later rolled out in Derby and Nottingham but the York course marks two firsts: this is the first time the course has been set up entirely outdoors and the first time too that a crowdfunding campaign was mounted through the Art Fund's Art Happens scheme to raise £10,000 from public donations to bring Leisure Land to a city. "I'm honoured that the people of York have seen fit to do that," said Fishbone.

The aforementioned seven holes are as much artworks as miniature golf holes, designed by artists Reactor, Yinka Shonibare, Eyal and Ines Weizman, Hetain Patel, John Akomfrah, Doug Fishbone and Ellie Harrison, each commissioned by Fishbone.

Humour plays its part, such as in Reactor's Crocodile, inspired by crocodiles invading golf courses, but more works are serious beyond a playful first impression, such as Patel's crouching green man, representing exploited Indian factory workers; Shonibare's mushroom cloud of footballs, and Akomfrah's Turkey Shoot Galacticos, with its black figure on his knees in a hoodie, recalling a police shooting in Birmingham, Alabama.

York Press:

John Akomfrah's Turkey Shoot Galacticos hole on Doug Fishbone’s Leisure Land Golf course. Picture: Frank Dwyer

Fishbone's own work depicts the stricken Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia: a piece designed for the Venice Biennale to comment on giant boats destroying the Venice lagoon. "I wanted to do something that was visually striking and structurally interesting," he said. "Is Leisure Land trivialising things? No I don't think so. You play the game but hopefully you think about things too."

Leisure Land's journey to York began at the Venice Biennale, where Reyahn King, York Museums Trust's chief executive, played a game. "She thought it would be fun in the garden here, and I then went down to Nottingham to play it too," said Laura Turner, York Art Gallery's curator of art.

"You could see it would work really well outdoors at York Art Gallery, with lots of people playing it, some that would see the political messages behind it – there's something disarming about seeing the figure in the hoodie – but at the end of the day it's a fun game to play."

York Press:

Doug Fishbone rests on his stricken Costa Concordia golf hole at the Leisure Land Golf course at York Art Gallery. Picture: Frank Dwyer

The gallery had a "fantastic response from the public" to the Art Happens crowdfunding scheme. "That helped to create a buzz around bringing it here, and then we had great fundraising ideas like hiring the garden for an evening for £450 for ten guests, Pimm's on the gallery balcony and unlimited games of golf," said Laura.

"It's the first time York Museums Trust has done something like this, and we would now look at doing a crowdfunding campaign again, maybe in a different way, but it certainly creates an interest. The brilliant thing about it is that we can talk about something for months and get people on board with the idea of what we're trying to do, especially when something like Leisure Land Golf might look a bit bonkers at first."

Doug Fishbone had first worked on creating a mini-golf course for the Nova Festival in Sussex, and then came up with his Leisure Land Golf game for the Venice Biennale. "Crazy golf is art in action, but I'd never seen a course done like this before, working with artists, and I knew I could go for artists who wanted to address issues like racism, globalisation, pollution and ecology without beating people on the head," says Doug.

"Like John Akomfrah's Turkey Shoot Galacticos, which he made after a police shooting in Birmingham, Alabama, and plays on the notion of shooting at a target."

York Press: Doug Fishbone’s Leisure Land Golf

Let's go crazy: the artwork for "the best mini golf course in York"

Since creating Leisure Land Golf, Doug has been involved in another crazy golf course project, working with 19 Arts University College students in Bournemouth to adapt an existing course in the south coast resort. Next he is off to Ghana in July and August to work with Ghanaian/British actor, producer and former University of York student John Apea on a re-make of Lee Frost's cult 1972 film The Thing With Two Heads.

"We're yet to get the funding together, but the film will be thoughtful and will come from an unexpected angle, which is kind of how I always like to work, where I don't take things too seriously but people end up talking about it," he says.

Doug Fishbone's Leisure Land Golf course is in situ in the garden behind York Art Gallery until September 3. To play a round costs £3, children £2, families of four £8; for more details, visit Charles Hutchinson