acoupleofputts

The minigolf adventures of Tom and Robin.


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Timber Falls Mini Golf – Wisconsin Dells, WI

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Played July 17, 2013

Reviewed by the Pink Putter

On our drive to Chicago for Pitchfork music festival last summer, we made our traditional midway stop at the Wisconsin Dells. Growing up on the east coast, I come to think of the Dells as the Jersey Shore of the midwest. Like the boardwalks of Wildwood and Ocean City, it’s chock full of water parks, chintzy t-shirt and fudge shops and of course, mini golf. After walking from our classic 60′s motel  to grab a quick bite downtown, we sought out the first of two courses we’d play that night, Timber Falls. We had seen a number of billboards in town trying to sway us there, boasting “kids golf free” in giant text. The view of the main entrance, with its bright lights and waterfalls, stood out from the main road. Unfortunately, like most things in the Dells, once you get through the fancy front door it’s quantity over quality.

Rating:

Par – Timber Falls is comprised of four courses in one, so the property is quite large. It’s got lots of trees, water features and great lighting for nighttime play. The entrance is impressive with its neon signage, oversized water mill, faux rock formations and cascading water. Just inside the entrance is a small petting zoo where you can buy food to feed the animals including ducks, goats and a donkey. In fact, the highlight of the course was an adorable baby goat standing on a donkey’s back just next to Hole 1. It was probably one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. But beyond the facade, the play is just average. The terrain undulates up and down, thus integrating a series of staircases into the landscape. While the course makes some use of the different levels through hills and pipe play, it certainly had the potential to be used more creatively. Based on the fun look of the entrance, we expected comparable kitsch on the inside as well. However, obstacles were limited to rocks and some water play. The turf was in rough condition on many of the holes and the overall play was just mediocre, leaving this course just short of a Birdie.

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We’re on TV!

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We were featured on MN Original as part of a piece on last Summer’s Walker Art Center artist designed ‪mini golf‬ course. The video also features curator of the course Scott Stulen. There is a great piece on MN Original about his work as well.

 

 

You can watch our video in the Twin Cities on TV with the times below. First airing is on Sunday night.
Date           Time       Channel
3/30/2014    6:00       PM 2
3/30/2014    10:00     PM 2
3/31/2014    7:00       PM SW MN
3/31/2014    1:00       AM SW MN
3/31/2014    7:00       AM SW MN
3/31/2014    4:00       AM 2
4/3/2014      9:30      PM Life
4/4/2014      3:30      AM Life
6/9/2014      7:00      PM SW MN


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Par-King Skill Golf Red Course – Lincolnshire, IL

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Played on June 3, 2013

Reviewed by Mr. Tee

The Pink Putter summed up why we made a special effort to play Par King. This is one review where even the pictures and videos don’t tell the full story of how special it is. This Midwestern mini golf mecca is the epitome of what we like in mini golf. Our east coast road trip was book ended Par-King and Vitense. Between the two you have the five best courses we have played to date.

Rating: 

Hole-in-one - It doesn’t get much better than this. It’s the Magic Kingdom of mini golf hidden in the burbs of Chicago. No repeat holes, paths to the cup that include motorized elevators, massive fiberglass characters and challenging play. The only criticism I had with the experience was the music. A playlist of tepid jammy late pop rock that included Dave Matthews Band, Barenaked Ladies, Black Eyed Peas, and Ben Harper attempted to throw me off my game . While this musical combination is a perfect recipe for me wanting to jam a scoring pencil through my ear drums, it couldn’t get in the way of the most spectacular mini golf we’ve played to date. If you’re looking at building a mini golf course, Par-King is a perfect starting point of reference.

 

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Par-King Skill Golf Black Course – Lincolnshire, IL

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Played June 3, 2013

Reviewed by The Pink Putter

Being mini golf lovers, we’ve naturally done our research on some of the world’s best courses. Almost every article we find (like this, this and this) list Par-King as one of them. We had also seen videos like the feature on the Travel Channel. So of course we made it our top priority to stop there on the drive home from Pennsylvania, and it was without a doubt worth the detour! We had high expectations for Par-King and all of them were beyond exceeded. To date, this is by far the best two courses we have ever played. Each of the two deserve their own review, so I’ll be taking the Black Course and stay tuned for Mr. Tee’s review of the Red Course.

Rating:

Hole-in-One – Based off its immaculate appearance and impeccably maintained greens, the owners of Par-King clearly take pride in their course. The entire property, from the parking lot to inside the gates, was pristine and clean. Everything was fresh and bright, which is no surprise considering that every inch of the course is repainted at the beginning of each season. The staff were friendly, eager to guide us in the right direction and even gave us some tips, tricks and course info. But beyond all this, the real stand out of Par-King is that it is the epitome of classic mini golf kitsch. Every hole is extremely unique, thoughtfully designed, and fun to both look at and play. Don’t just take my word for it, check out the photos and videos below to get a good sense of Par-King’s greatness. Better yet, make a trip out to Lincolnshire and play it for yourself!

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Professor Hacker’s Lost Treasure Golf – Lancaster, PA

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Played June 1, 2013 Reviewed by Mr. Tee. Played with Mike G. and Tom R. (not Mr. Tee)

Our summer trip out east coincided with my yearly aging reminder (aka my birthday) and for this day I was to be without the Pink Putter for the first half of the day because she was attending to her role as part of the bridal party for her friend’s wedding. Anticipating this free time I planned on getting in some mini golf and wrangled two other guys who’s gals were also in the bridal party. Unbeknownst to me, Lancaster, Pennsylvania is a bustling tourist area and my online reconnoissance of this city uncovered 9 courses near where we were staying. After searching through pictures and descriptions, Professor Hacker’s seemed to be the most compelling option. I mean, come on; they have a massive boat in the middle of the course. My two playing partners, Mike and Tom, were excellent sports and indulged my birthday desire to play both of the courses. With blazing hot weather beaming down our necks, we searched high and low for a golden golf experience.

Rating:

Birdie  – The pirate theme is quite common for mini golf but oddly enough, this is the first course we’ve reviewed that utilized this trope. Visually, Professor Hacker’s kept the Pirates of the Caribbean look throughout the whole course with the use of signs, barrels, cave and a massive sailing ship. We specifically decided to play the the gold course after playing the diamond course so we could ensure playing the hole located on the floating vessel. Where the course fell short was in game play. As you can see in the pictures below, the hole placement and layout lacks imagination. The greens were immaculate but just not particularly notable. It’s too bad because a little more variation and this two course adventure would be a hole-in-one in my book.

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Skyway Open 2014 – Minneapolis, MN

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Played February 22, 2014

Reviewed by Mr. Tee

Minnesota winters are not the most pleasant, but this year’s has been officially miserable. I’m finishing this review on a day where we are celebrating 24 degrees (Fahrenheit for our friends outside the US) as warm. Fortunately, the Skyway Open once again proved to be a ray of sunlight amongst the sub-zero temps. If you’re interested in the history of this annual temporary course/fundraiser event, you can look at our review from last year and our guest review of the 2012 course. We’ll let the photos do most of the talking for this year.

Rating:

Hole-In-One - Like last year’s course, the designs, play value and quality of construction varied greatly. Yet despite these differences, six of the 19 holes drew their main inspiration from the Mill City Ruins / Stone Arch Bridge. If you aren’t from Minneapolis, this iconic view of the downtown is chock full of history and is an extremely  popular summer destination. In 2012, the Pink Putter did a massive public art piece across the bridge, so we are quite familiar with the area. It makes sense as a theme to transport players to a happy place  and the landscape lends itself to a slew of game play designs. While this theme was a touch overused, the play of the six holes varied enough to distinguish them from each other.

Between the number of strong hole designs and high level of fun, this year surpassed our 2013 experience. Numerous holes had a wide array of paths, tunnels, obstacles and challenges that would make for fun over multiple rounds. Unfortunately, the course was only up for three days. We’ll let the photos below do most of the talking. Our only major qualm was the structural fragility of a handful of holes. We stopped by to photograph and see what the course looked like on opening night and by the next afternoon, several of the motorized features were no longer spinning. I’m willing to overlook this because we appreciate the level of ambition displayed throughout the course that was lacking at times last year, especially considering this is only a one-weekend event..

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Gasser’s Mini Golf – Fleetwood, PA

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Played May 31, 2013
Reviewed by the Pink Putter

Growing up in the Lehigh Valley, I figured I had played most of the mini golf within an hour’s driving radius. Having played Sittler’s on more than one occasion, I  thought I knew what the Reading area had to offer, but on our drive out to Lancaster for the wedding, we discovered two more courses, Genetti’s and Gasser’s. We stopped at Genetti’s and to our dismay they were closed, despite the fact that their website told us otherwise. We tried calling and knocking on the door multiple times, but no go. Instead of wasting anymore time there, we moved on to Gasser’s, a picturesque driving range with a cozy, rustic mini golf course tucked in the corner.

Rating:

Par – Like Heisler’s Dairy, Gasser’s is another impeccably maintained course with immaculate landscaping, water features, bridges and lovely vistas (perhaps this is a Pennsylvania thing). The layout of the course was compressed into a small corner of the property, elevated above and overlooking the vast driving range. We found the play to be average, consisting of many large rock obstacles, sand  traps, water hazards, and twists and turns in the greens. There were a couple minor thematic touches, limited to a miniature water mill, some goofy tree faces and wooden fencing. We chose a lovely afternoon to play, as the course was quiet and the sun was shining brightly. However this, in combination with the lush landscaping, led to me periodically running from large yellow jackets throughout the course. Other than that, Gasser’s proved to be a worthy stop on our way to the rehearsal dinner in Lancaster.

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