acoupleofputts

The minigolf adventures of Tom and Robin.


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Betty Danger’s Country Club – Minneapolis, MN

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Played multiple times throughout 2015
Reviewed by the Pink Putter

Betty Danger’s Country Club is a new concept restaurant/entertainment complex owned by the same folks behind Minneapolis favorites Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge and Donnie Dirk’s Zombie Den. It’s right in our neighborhood of Northeast Minneapolis and is built on the same plot of land that the original Psycho Suzi’s was located before it moved to it’s new riverfront property. It’s got a dining room, bar area, multiple patios, an 8.5 hole mini golf course and “The Danger”, a pink and green ferris wheel, or as the establishment calls it, a Mechanical Tree (vertically revolving patio). We’ve been following Betty Danger’s since the first newspaper articles announced the plans and continued to stop by through the entirety of its construction. Since it’s opening in early spring this year, we’ve become something of what you might call regulars. In April, when I was visiting home from South Carolina, Mr. Tee and I even played in their Master’s Tournament and I somehow managed to place second overall!

Rating:

Par – Betty Danger’s course is 8.5 holes of average play and outstanding kitsch. What is a half hole, you ask? Well, it’s a joke. It’s an area of a fairway, complete with putting turf and brick walls but has no actual obstacles or hole. Everyone gets an automatic score of “1”. The other 8 holes are all flat (no hills, ramps or jumps) with varying curves, patches of rough turf and an eclectic variety of oversized animals and a giant fiberglass apple. On the last hole, you even get to putt into a clear tunnel that traverses through the indoor patio area, thus ending your game right next to The Danger. While we certainly appreciate the decor, the cost to play just eight holes is very steep. To play one round, you must purchase a drink, so the price varies depending on your beverage tastes, but will total anywhere from around $10 to $16 per person.  There are also all sorts of membership packages available that change the cost, but it’s all very complex. You can read about them here. So the bottom line is that if you are in town, definitely come for the Yale (a pink prickly-pear alcoholic slushy) and the plaid painted cow, but be warned that this course might be dangerous on your wallet.

Me getting out from behind the plaid cow.

Me hitting out from behind the plaid cow.

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Walker on the Green 2015 – Minneapolis, MN

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Played dozens of times between May – August 2015

Reviewed by Mr. Tee

This is the third year A Couple of Putts has been involved with the Walker Art Center Mini Golf course. I, Mr. Tee, took part in a design charrette with Amy, Yousif, Meena and Andrew with the goal of coming up with ideas for four new holes to be added to the Walker’s now annual mini golf course. Fourteen holes were held over from the 2013 and 2014 courses to fill out the rest of the course. Our theme was International Pop given the massive exhibition on display in the Walker Art Center through the summer months. In a matter of three hours, we sketched out a number of wild, unrealistic and fun ideas. The Walker Art Center ultimately landed on the four holes featured in the photos below.

Rating:

Birdie – Once again, it’s difficult to be unbiased and I’ll admit it up front. My name is on five of the eighteen holes on the course. If you scroll down the page, you’ll see our “Pros” and “Cons” of the course and not much changed from last year. The new holes all integrated turf and better playing surfaces than last year’s additions. My favorites are Don’t Blow It (our gumball designed hole), Snakebite and Putt-Pong. But the course is generally a blast to play over and over.

All that being said, I couldn’t give it our highest score. The new additions to the course our group came up with look fantastic but I don’t feel like they met the imagination and sketches we landed on in our charrette. While previous favorites Tilt-A-Putt and Garden Gnome Foosball were retired from the course for good reason due to wear and tear, the replacements didn’t quite capture the excitement of play found in their predecessors. Both the Pink Putter and myself are our own harshest critics so my hope is that this review leads to even better additions to the course for 2016!

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McPherson Park – Greenville, SC

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Played on 6/15/15
Reviewed by the Pink Putter

Greenville, South Carolina is the bigger sister city to Spartanburg, kind of like Eagleton is to Pawnee, if you’re a fan of the TV show Parks and Recreation. It’s a good 30+ minute drive from downtown to downtown, however Greenville has great places to grab lunch and many lovely parks to stroll in. One of these is McPherson Park, located a few blocks from the hustle and bustle of Main Street. McPherson Park is 12.5 acres and offers a variety of amenities including a picnic shelter, playground, tennis courts, a bandstand, and most importantly, a free miniature golf course (bring your own ball and putter, that is).

Rating:

Sandtrap– The only redeeming quality to this rundown, beat up, and average course is that it’s completely free. Like Sparkle City Mini Putt, McPherson is a public park where you can bring your own ball and putter, but unlike SCMP, there are no locations to rent balls and putters. Upon arrival, we checked in at the park shelter front desk to inquire about scorecards. The woman working was very friendly and informed us that they haven’t had scorecards available in many, many years. It took us a minute to figure out where to start. Each hole was numbered with a taped on piece of paper and the first hole had no logic as to its placement. We made our way around the course, only to encounter ripped turf, rotting wood and holes flooded with dirty standing water. The game play was somewhat varied and included jump shots, narrow paths, half figure-eights, slopes and small wooden obstacles. If you live in the area, it could be worth a visit to practice your putting skills, but we don’t recommend going out of your way to play this course.

The Pink Putter fumbles her way through this course.

View of half of the course.

View of half of the course from across the bridge.

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Fantasy Island Miniature Golf – Spartanburg, SC

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Reviewed by the Pink Putter
Played on 6/11/2015

While Spartanburg, SC used to be home to a famed Putt Putt course on Reidville Road, currently the only other course in the area (aside from the brand new Sparkle City Mini Putt) is Fantasy Island. It’s part of a large complex on the northern edge of town that includes go-karts, bumper boats, a modest arcade and laser tag. I accidentally discovered this place on Easter Sunday, after a hike in Greenville, SC and a missed exit on the drive home. On my first encounter, I thought it was abandoned because the lawn was overgrown and there was no turf, just exposed concrete. We found the entrance, where we were greeted by old, broken mini golf signs that read “Blessed Fun”. After doing some research, this makes sense. Apparently this complex has had a few owners and used to be called Mountasia, and then Blessed Fun at Funtasia, and now Fantasy Island. I ventured my way into the arcade, which to my surprise was actually open and a friendly staff member told me they were new owners who were re-turfing the entire course and they would be open for business in a just a few weeks. I knew that Mr. Tee would be visiting for my birthday weekend, so I waited for him to go back and play.

Rating:

Par – It’s clear that Fantasy Island is a product of the 80’s and that when it first opened, it had its heyday. The layout is impressive, bringing players up a mountain, back down it and then through caves inside of it. There is lots of water and a nice array of hills, slopes, and even a figure 8 (cleverly on hole 8!), many elements of fun game play. However, this course is lacking in creative obstacles, minus some rocks, wood and one pipe. It is also clearly showing signs of its age, even with the newly re-turfed playing surface. The lawn is overgrown, there were piles of rotted wood scattered around, the benches were falling over and the waterfall was not on. The signage for the holes were hastily printed and taped onto metal stands. Also, the hole inside the cave was flooded. That being said, the price is right ($5 a player) and the owners are obviously invested in turning the course around and have already put some effort into that. Perhaps with some more time and TLC, there is hope that this course can return to the state of its glory days.

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Sign from the road. Easter Sunday, 2015.

The Pink Putter at the entrance. Easter Sunday, 2015.

The Pink Putter at the entrance. Easter Sunday, 2015.

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Sparkle City Mini Putt – Spartanburg, SC

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For the last six months, I the Pink Putter, aka Robin Schwartzman, have been an Artist-in-Residence at Hub-Bub in Spartanburg, SC. During my time there I designed, pitched and worked with the community to build a permanent, 9-hole, Spartanburg-themed mini golf course on a formerly vacant lot in the heart of downtown. And the best part? It’s totally free! People are encouraged to bring their own ball and putter or to rent them for free (in exchange for a valid ID) from five local businesses in downtown: The Coffee Bar, Growler Haus, The Local Hiker, Dottie’s Toffee and the Paisley Paw. This project was made possible by the generous contributions of Hub-Bub, Johnson Development Associates, Inc., The City of Spartanburg, McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, Clayton Construction Company, Inc., Blackwood Associates, Inc., Lavender Smith & Associates, Inc., Parks Engineering Associates, Inc., Blanchard CAT Rental, Parker’s Carpet One, and Roebuck Wholesale Nursery and Landscaping, Inc. All the painting of the mural, curbs and obstacles was done in collaboration with local artists Aimee Wise, Russell Bannan, Eli Blasko. Metal fabrication of obstacles was done by local metal workers Josh Moore and Kevin Belue of K Riley Designs. Bronze casting was done by Minneapolis-based artist Yousif Del Valle.

It wouldn’t really be fair for me to review this course, although Mr. Tee might accomplish this when he gets to play it down the road. But for now, I wanted to share a bunch of photos and videos of the course with you. Enjoy!

Myrtle the Pink Elephant announces the Grand Opening.

The Pink Putter poses with Myrtle the Pink Elephant. Robin repainted Myrtle and in exchange, got her to announce the Grand Opening of Sparkle City Mini Putt.

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Lighthouse Cove Adventure Golf – Jupiter Beach, FL

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Played on February 8, 2015

Reviewed by Mr. Tee

This winter found the Pink Putter down south on an artist residency at Hub-Bub. Our plans to spend time together in South Carolina around Valentine’s Day shifted to Florida after the sudden passing of a member of her family. The trip did not come under the best circumstances but we found time to celebrate life with family and through a respite trip to the beach. As usual, we sought out the local mini golf options and found this little gem. Despite getting turned around by our “smart” phones, we eventually landed at this oceanside recreation space.

Rating:

Birdie – Sharks, surf boards, boats and bright blue water seem like an obvious choice for a mini golf business just off the Florida coast. We’re suckers for fiberglass and/or plaster animals, especially pelicans. I waffled on it but eventually landed on giving this a “Birdie” rating versus our top tier, “Hole-in-One“. The course was definitely a cut above your average course with lots of interactive features but the actual play itself was fairly generic. It reminded me of Professor Hacker’s in Lancaster. Looking back at the photos it was clear we had tons of fun but there wasn’t more than 5-6 out of 36 holes that registered in my memory after reviewing pictures. It’s impeccably maintained with pristine greens and landscaping that makes for consistent play. We had a blast and would play here again but Lighthouse Cove fell just short of being in the conversation with our favorite courses around.

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Tropical Gardens – Asheville, NC

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Reviewed by the Pink Putter
Played on March 26, 2015

Since January and through the end of June, I am doing an Artist Residency at Hub-Bub located in Spartanburg, SC. While there are many exciting things happening in Spartanburg, there isn’t a whole lot of mini golf just yet (although it will soon be the new home of Sparkle City Mini Putt). Cities like Asheville, Charlotte and Columbia are only about an hour drive and Myrtle Beach is just 3 hours.

In the beginning of the year, the online mini golf community shared a great article from the citizen-times featuring Tropical Gardens. As soon as I read it, I knew I needed to make a visit. I grabbed Desiree, a fellow Artist-in-Residence, and we made an afternoon trip to play this classic.

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Desiree in front of a Rhino

 

Rating:

Hole-in-One – There’s no doubt about it, Tropical Gardens is indeed an Asheville icon and a mini golf destination. The course cleverly integrates the hill that it’s built into every aspect of game play. Players start their journey on top, work their way past the waterfall and down and giant sloped hole to the lagoon at the bottom. At every turn there are fiberglass rhinos, giraffes, zebras, elephants and flamingos. The layout of each hole follows the natural landscape and terrain, making for a wide variety of play ranging from angles and shots with kitschy obstacles to giant downward slopes and pipe play. Because we played at the very beginning of their season, the waterfall wasn’t turned on, but they promised me it would be soon and the last time I drove by it was. There are a lot of other fun surprises, which the photos and video will reveal. If you are in the Asheville area, this is a must-visit course.

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