The Mini Golf Enthusiast

A Mini Blog About a Mini Sport

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Alligator Pranks

With a headline like, "Alligator Stolen From Mini-Golf Course" one imagines young rapscallions absconding with fiberglass replicas of their toothy real-life counterparts. Not so. The St. Petersburg Times reports (with multiple misspellings I must add) that a group of men and women were caught on security cameras stealing alligators from the Congo River Adventure Golf Course's Pond in Clearwater, FL.

All types of alligators present their own dangers to mini golfers.

The pranksters took off with REAL alligators who call the mini-golf course home. The manager of the course had these words of wisdom to share, “This a dangerous prank...These people are not particularly concerned about being bitten or anything. They just want the gators.”

This gives a whole new meaning to a mini golf water hazard.

Image: Face Value

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Mini Golf Game of the Month - Verti Golf

It's time for the mini golf game of the month. This month I chose Verti Golf and Verti Golf 2. To play all of the available holes requires a fee, but for each of the games you may play 5 holes of each for free, just click on the demo version. The games are so fun to play that even though only a few holes are available, I thought they were worth highlighting.


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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Holiday Entertaining - Mini Golf Style

Even though it all started innocently enough, as an alternative approach to celebrating Valentine's Day, Leslie Crawford and Steve Fox's brilliantly inspired idea translates well to almost any celebratory event. And as we enter the "entertaining season" we all can use a little inspiration.

In 1993 the couple invited a few friends over to a "bring-your-own-mini-golf-hole" party which, little did they know, would eventually become an at-times yearly (now they host it bi-annually) jam-packed 200 person charity event.

Teeny-tiny mini golf holes accompany their larger cousins at the
May 2006 CrawFox Mini-Golf Benefit

On their site, they have a wonderful photo archive of each event from 1993 to the present and accompanying narrative that highlights each year's outstanding mini golf creations. Some notables include an Evel Knievel canyon jump hole, an interactive experimental hole where players donned goggles that played video of themselves playing the hole (very existential), and a hole that featured a perfectly-scaled miniature replica of Pac-Bell park in San Francisco. Now THAT is one huge bunch o' creativity.

A mini-golf cake doubles as a hole at the 2006 event. Players needed to place the chocolate golf ball into the cake top with the goal of having it land in a hole at the center of a cupcake.

Their last event was held this past May which means we have to wait until 2008 for the next extravaganza. Perhaps it could become your own new tradition, a remedy for what I find to be an always disappointing New Year's Eve. Now I just need to find friends who have any time to spare to create some mini golf magic.

Images: Jez and Brooke and

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Going Forward By Looking Behind - Mini Golf and Development

While I tend to focus on what I consider to be the tragic loss of classic miniature golf courses, as they often become victims to the relentless pursuit of development, occasionally, mini golf itself becomes a strategy for development.

In Arlington, VA, a small controversy is taking place over a small parcel of open space adjacent to the Ballston Common Mall. There is a proposal to develop a mini golf course at the location which would reportedly be one of the first of its kind built in such a densely populated area. (Although, I have a hard time believing this.) And as reported in The Connection, "County Officials believe a miniature golf facility outside the mall will serve as an economic boon for Ballston, bringing more families into the rapidly changing neighborhood."

T-Rexes will not make an appearance if the mini-golf project is approved.

The plan has its critics, however. Members of the local business community have their doubts about the economic viability of the potential project considering its high density location. Considering other tentative proposals included developing a park, not exactly a money maker, I don't really see what the problem is. And doesn't high density mean more potential customers? Yes, it does also mean higher property values but it seems as though the land is owned by the county. We've come full-circle, as this project harkens back to mini golf's urban hey-day when courses appeared on the rooftops of buildings in some of the densest cities in the US. The county has not decided whether or not it will help subsidize the course. This will probably be a key component to whether or not this plan comes to fruition.

This would not be the first course to appear in the neighborhood:

For Arlington teenagers in the 1960s, a balmy summer Saturday night might have started with a slice of pepperoni pizza at Mario's and ended with a milkshake at Tops Drive-in and its jumping jukebox.
But the Putt-Putt miniature golf course in Ballston — located on the corner of Glebe Road and Wilson Boulevard — was the social hub of teenage life, even into the following decade.
'It was a great place for young people to hang around on an evening. There was very little supervision,' said Kathryn Holt Springston, a local historian and 1971 graduate of H-B Woodlawn, while laughing.
Metro came to Ballston in 1979, permanently altering the character of the neighborhood. Land values surrounding the Metro entrance sky-rocketed, and the owners of the mini-golf course sold the land to a developer several years later.
The loss of the golf complex was emblematic of the changes sweeping the neighborhood. Ballston was beginning to transform from a sleepy post-World War II suburb into a bustling urban center.
'The mini-golf course was the pride of the neighborhood,' said Dennis Burr, president of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association. 'Everyone was upset when they tore it out and put in a high-rise.'

The question is, is nostalgia driving development? In some sense I sure hope so, even though a promise has been made not to include a 300' T-Rex.

Image: mittens oh my!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Art of Golf Take Two

In a previous post, I wrote about mini golf courses created by artists and lamented that they unfortunately, only had a brief existence, sometimes as short as a few hours. At best, some courses may last a few weeks as an art installation. I then suggested what I thought was a pretty good idea, if I say so myself, a permanent artist inspired golf course.

My hopes and dreams have come true. Unfortunately for me, they've come true far, far away in North-East Britain. In Northumberland, the Art and Architecture Programme at Kielder commissioned artist Wolfgang Weileder to create a mini golf course for Leaplish Waterside Park. While I cannot confirm its "permanent" status, it certainly seems to be a long-term art installation.

Titled Mapping, the 13 hole course derives its inspiration from the historical landscape of the area and innovatively, a player need not play the course in any specific order, start point, or end point. A player chooses the level of difficulty for each hole depending on where he or she places the ball. The scorecard helps players decide their course of action (ha, couldn't resist that pun).

The project sounds both fun and educational. While I hope to be able to visit this course, I also hope to find one a little bit closer to home. If anyone knows of one please let me know.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Mini Golf From Space!!

If you are a bit of a geek like me, being able to zoom in and out of nearly any point on the planet gives a little bit of thrill. Google Earth, a free downloadable broadband mapping program, is a collection of composite, searchable satellite images that literally cover the world. Since its debut, it has inspired virtual global travelers to search for their homes, vacation spots, and even covert locations such as Area 51. In the Google Earth Community, searchers post their finds to share with others. I found a thread of mini golf courses. The quality between images varies greatly, but it is fun to peek around to get a bird's eye view. You can search your own favorite courses by typing in the course's address in the "Fly To" tab.

It's not everyday that you can say that you flew in from space to visit your favorite golfing spot!

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Another Mini Golf Tragedy - Vegas, Baby, Vegas

Today I report another tale of a grand mini golf course left to abandonment, a victim of the relentless forces of development in one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., Las Vegas. These exquisitely executed buildings from the former Scandia Family Fun Center were once an alternative to the glitz and glamour of the strip.

What I particularly appreciate about the course, besides the beautiful buildings that I practically want to move in to, is the lack of a Vegas theme. While I normally go to a mini golf course with the hope that I will see a little microcosm of local symbols and culture, it would be just too predictable and easy to condense the Las Vegas experience. If anything, wooden Victorian houses have a much more exotic presence in the woodless desert landscape.

In case you were wondering what the future holds for the site, predictably, a towering condominium complex will soon rise from the ashes of misplaced Victorians and Astroturf. Sigh.

But all is not lost (literally); another Scandia Fun Center exits in Fairfield, CA and it seems to have all the intricately detailed miniature buildings one could hope for. We'll have to just wait and see how long it survives.

Images: Roadsidepictures

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