The 15 Best Miniature Golf Courses

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I have always been terrible at miniature golf because I have a bad habit of hitting way too hard. When I was really young, I even smacked my dad in the forehead with a club as he bent over behind me to tell me to swing softer. Despite my absolute lack of putting skill, I love the game. And I’m not the only one; the sport is so popular that it has even earned its own holiday, today, September 21. In celebration of National Miniature Golf Day, let’s take a look at the best mini golf courses in America.


Image courtesy of Flickr user popofafatticus.

Roller Coaster Golf?

The best-known wacky golf course, and arguably the most unique course in the world, is Illinois’ Par-King. The course started out as a distraction for the families of golfers on the next door driving range and quickly took on a life of its own with such strange attractions as a Sears Tower, a moving clown and a roller coaster for your ball, as seen in the video below:

While you don't hear as much about Colorado's Lilli Putt Miniature Golf, it actually has an even more impressive ball contraption than Par-King's. Check out the video of this crazy ball coaster:

The Nation’s Oldest Course


Image courtesy of Flickr user M.V. Jantzen.

If Rube-Goldberg-machines-turned roller coasters aren’t your thing and you prefer your courses free of distractions, try the Mini Golf Course at East Potomac. It is one of three main contenders for the title of oldest miniature golf courses in the country and its recognition on the National Register for Historic Places gives it more credibility than the competition. Opened in 1930, the course is fairly simple, but it’s nice to know that you’re retracing the sport’s roots as you walk through this piece of living history.

It’s a Pirate’s Course For Me


Pirate's Cove image courtesy of Flickr user Vcalzone.

Yo Ho Ho and a bundle of clubs. If you’re already considering what to do for next year’s Talk Like A Pirate Day, consider some golfing adventures on the high seas at Pirate Island in New Jersey, the Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf parks located throughout the country or Maryland’s Jolly Roger. Pirate Island offers 18 riveting holes that include things like talking pirates, waterfalls, caves and pirate ships. The Pirate’s Cove Adventure parks offer similar attractions (sans animatronic pirates) and bills itself as “the original adventure golf” park. The Jolly Roger is a full amusement park that happens to offer miniature golf along with go-karts, roller coasters and bumper cars. Interestingly, although the whole park is pirate themed, the first course in the park only featured jungle décor and the pirate-themed course wasn’t added until recently.

Mayday! Mayday!

If you like tropical islands, but hate resident pirates, perhaps you should head to Mayday Golf in Myrtle Beach, where the storyline involves an airplane crash on an island that just happens to have a miniature golf course…because the first thing that you should worry about after a plane crash is playing mini golf, not starting a fire, signaling for help or searching for food or water.

Cosmic Golfing


Glowing Greens image courtesy of Flickr user stumptownpanda.

If you’ve ever gone cosmic bowling, you know just how awesome a black light and some fluorescent paint can make an otherwise ordinary game. That’s the theory behind Putting Edge Fun Center, Putz and Glo and Glowing Greens, a few of the many golfing arenas organized around black light-reactive golfing. Putting Edge has locations scattered throughout America and Canada and features a variety of themes and challenges at each location. At Putz and Glo in South Dakota, you can not only enjoy glow-in-the-dark golfing with a rock and roll theme, but you can also partake in a trippy maze and gemstone panning. Oregon’s Glowing Greens is not only black light responsive, but it also features 3D elements that can only be viewed with special glasses. No word on how the glasses affect game play, but supposedly the back nine holes of the eighteen hole course are too spooky for small children, so plan your games accordingly.

The Case of the Haunted Green

If the scary theme of Glowing Greens sounds good to you, but you’re in Illinois instead of Oregon, consider visiting Haunted Trails, which features horror movie favorites including mummies, ghosts, vampires and more.

When you want something truly creepy though, head to Ahlgrim’s Acres, a mini golf course located in the basement of an Illinois funeral home. You get a free round of golf with every funeral package, which is even more disturbing when you consider the macabre theme of the course that features mausoleums, cemeteries and a guillotine.

Pray Before You Stroke


Image courtesy of The  Putting Penguin.

Depending on how clear your conscience is, the biblically-themed courses at Kentucky’s Lexington Ice Center may prove to be even more terrifying than any of the morbid courses above. There are three courses, broken up by Old Testament, New Testament and miracles. If you aren’t too big into the bible, you still may want to stop by, though—The Travel Channel has rated this as one of the best mini golf destinations in America.

Worldly Travel Experiences


Image courtesy of Flickr user Matt.Ohara.

While traveling the course of biblical stories can be fun, it hardly compares to the magic of a trip around the world. For this mind-enriching experience, head over to New York’s Around The World in 18 Holes. Each hole represents a different nation, including France, China and the good ol’ US of A. This course was also rated as one of the top in the nation by The Travel Channel, so it’s a great option for those looking for a cheap way to travel the world.

Looking for A Challenge?

Speaking of courses that are worth a vacation, if you are an avid miniature golfer, TopGolf may just be the best option for you. The company owns six courses, three in the UK and three in the US, each of which are exceptionally challenging. The mini golf courses are best described as “extreme,” as they feature many water hazards, sand traps and other obstacles to test your skills. Personally, this is one green I’d never consider visiting. I lose my ball enough on a regular course, I certainly don’t need to try my hand at a course designed to challenge the pros.

It seems almost every city has at least one mini golf course, so many of you are sure to have stories and tips. What’s your favorite course and do you have any funny mini golfing stories worth mentioning?

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September 21, 2010 - 6:00pm
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