acoupleofputts

The minigolf adventures of Tom and Robin.


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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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The Pink Putter’s Big New Project: Sparkle City Mini Putt!

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After months of planning, the Pink Putter (aka Robin Schwartzman) is excited to announce that she has designed Sparkle City Mini Putt, a 9-hole, locally themed, permanent mini golf course that will be constructed in downtown Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Course Layout

Course Layout

This project is part of her 6 month Artist Residency at Hub-Bub and is being built in collaboration with local and national artists including fabricators Kevin Riley of K Riley Designs, blacksmith Josh Moore and metal caster Yousif Del Valle as well as the Pony & Bear mural painting collective that is Russell Bannan, Aimee Wise and Eli Blasko.

Each hole was inspired by experiences she’s had during her time in Spartanburg, including signage, parks, trails and local landmarks. Construction will take place over the next month, so stay tuned for in-progress photos and videos. But until then, enjoy some renderings and illustrations as a preview of what’s to come!

Hole 1 - Welcome to Sparkle City

Hole 1 – Welcome to Sparkle City

Lots more photos if you continue from here!

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Country Inn Mini Golf – Two Harbors, MN

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Played on October 17, 2014

Reviewed by The Pink Putter

On the second half of our fall day trip along scenic Highway 61, we stumbled upon this strange mini golf course at Two Harbors Country Inn. To pay for our round, we had to enter the hotel lobby. It was sort of ominous, as it was a cold, cloudy afternoon and there was nobody else on the course. But we enjoyed playing this colorful, oddly kitschy, retro feeling course.

Rating:

Par – The course had a lot of twists, turns, hills, bumps, ramps and interesting obstacles. It was also a bit shabby and certainly not the most scenic view of Highway 61. Many of the obstacles were in need of a new coat of paint, small repairs and could be easily moved around the greens to different locations. Objects like the log cabin and deer made sense as regional themes, while we’re not quite sure how the others fit in. A number of the holes would have been impossible to score a hole-in-one on and my preference is to at least have a chance. Nonetheless, this was a pretty fun stop that I would recommend if you are in the area, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to play again.

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Mr. Tee knocking on the door.

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North Shore 9 at Adventure Zone – Duluth, MN

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Played October 17, 2014

Reviewed by Mr. Tee

The North Shore of Lake Superior is a popular tourist destination especially during the Fall months. The view of the majestic lake coupled with the array of colors bursting from the tree line and pleasant weather draw people from across Minnesota and the rest of the world. It’s lovely and worth your effort to check it out sometime. I try to get up there at least every two years. Bob Dylan, northern Minnesota’s most famous export, even name checked the the highway that most of the attractions reside on one of his most famous albums. The Pink Putter and I decided to take a day off of work to take in the sights and on the way up, we took a stop-off in Duluth to check out the mini golf options. It seemed fitting that the only course open was inspired by a former golf course that “was designed and built in the in the late 1800’s, along with Skyline Drive and the Incline Railway” on the North Shore. And they had skill cranes and so how could we say no?

Rating:

Par – The idea behind the theme of the course was good in theory but the reality missed the mark. Adventure Zone tried to hide the tall walls and to create an immersive environment within the larger entertainment center but the way they skinned the walls was quite odd. The scenes were so absurd that it could be funny in an ironic way if it was executed better. You can see the pictures below to get a better sense of what I’m talking about. The actual play featured numerous common tropes like lighthouses and loops with a fairly wide variety of play. None of the holes were very challenging or long but were fun nonetheless. We would have liked more for more holes on the course but $3 isn’t too shabby for some fun. For those not familiar with Duluth, it gets absurdly cold in the winter so having an indoor mini golf option is nice.

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