Mini-golf is a FANTASTIC activity. An entire family can gather together and hit a ball at windmills and giant octopi and laugh as a fake foot kicks the ball far away from the whole. But then, some people are serious about putt-putt. I went a few weeks back with the maximum group size (according to the course rules posted all over the entrance) 6 people. This was a serious course; no huge animals, nothing spinning whatsoever, and in their place… water hazards –for reals- and sand traps -thick carpet. It really was half way between a putt-putt course and practicing on the greens. The course rules, which my sister read thoroughly so my niece would hear, included do not swing the clubs hard, play the holes in consecutive order, one player must finish the hole before the next can start, if it takes more than six swings you forfeit the hole, and do not enter the water features to retrieve balls.
The first thing I figured out during the game was that my niece plays golf FAST. None of the rest of us could keep up with her; she was burning through the course at such a rapid clip. Some of the rules were a little more difficult for her to keep in mind. When she swings a club, she swings it! Not a huge problem, except that the ball ricocheted off a rock feature and into the middle of the pond between holes three and four. Oops! No problem, since the ball was just a bit out of reach of our clubs in the water, I just ran up and grabbed a new purple ball from the shop. We played five or so more holes till we got to a tricky one. It was a straight green with three potential holes at the opposite end, which apparently dropped the ball down to another green a bit further away with one more hole to hit the ball into. My nice decided to go up the middle and then ran to the next green and waited for the ball to come out of one of the tubes, but it never showed up. Another lost ball! Was it stuck in there? We all tried to get the ball to come out, but to no avail. We checked every inch of the green and realized that the second level hole descended to another green with the flag – so we checked every inch of that green too, but nothing. My niece was distraught! This is the worst! Two lost balls, yikes. Well, none of us wanted to taint the putting experience for this little cutie, so we all flew into action to try and help. My mom offered her own ball so my niece could start the hole over and hit it towards one of the other two holes at the beginning and I stripped my shoes off and rolled up my pant legs to venture in the water after the first ball that had disappeared there earlier – making sure no one was watching. My niece made her way to the lower green with my mom’s ball and was finally ready to hit it into the single hole on that green when I was throwing the first ball out of the slimy-bottomed, man-made pond. Grateful for not slipping in the pond, I walked back over to sit on the grass and put my shoes back on my feet. My niece had just sunk a put into the flag and went over to collect her ball – low and behold there were two balls sitting in the hole! The entire time she had hit a hole-in-one and we were searching in all the wrong spots for the ball. Putting day saved.
This brings up an important point I would like to point out to the putt-putt world at large. How is anyone supposed to know where the balls are going to go once they disappear down a tube? There’s got to be some sort of graphic posted at the beginning of the hole. We had no idea where any of the tubes came out, so how are we supposed to know which one to aim for when teeing off? For an upscale putt-putt course they had some significant drawbacks. I guess I broke the rules for nothing, but it only counts if you get caught, or fall on your keester in the water, so it’s all good.