Played September 16, 2012 (and more times than Mr. Tee can remember)
Reviewed by Mr. Tee
Economic prosperity and cheap gas led many families to move away from the Twin Cities metro area and out to the suburbs in the 1980’s. From 1980 to 1990, Coon Rapids saw a 47% growth in population and the major thoroughfare of activity for the city was Coon Rapids Boulevard. Lilli Putt’s beneficial location on this busy road near Coon Rapids City Dam Regional Park, city offices and various malls during the mini-golf boom of the 1980’s resulted in it being a popular destination.
The 1980’s, a formative part of any now 30-something’s life, found a young Mr. Tee at Lilli Putt on a regular basis. Our family would clip coupons from the county paper and head off for a competitive outing filled with go-karting, bumper boats, video games and most importantly, mini-golf. The challenging play and well-designed hazards made this a frustrating play for a young Mr. Tee but the difficulty offered a continual challenge to encourage regular visits. I remember when a now less common gas station chain, Tom Thumb, hosted a major mini-golf tournament on this course and it planted the belief in my mind that this course was something special. Only recently I found out that Tom Thumb is a diminutive character used in English Folklore and one of the many names of this game we love; mini-golf.
The area underwent dramatic changes in the 90s and in to the 00s. Highway 10 was expanded and reached directly to I-35. As outer suburbs expanded, the economic activity moved to accommodate. Coon Rapids Boulevard saw a major flight of businesses towards Highway 10. On top of this, Coon Rapids population actually shrunk between 2000 and 2010 by .2%. This is all setting up the review of what was once a magical course to a course that doesn’t really stand out of the pack.
Par – Almost all of our reviews harp on this but as is the case with many courses, Lilli Putt comes up short due to a lack of care and upkeep. This course still offers complex and challenging play but part of the complexity is not intentional, rather is due to the deterioration. The turf is damaged on several holes to the point that effected playability at times. The brick border and castle have serious wear that requires fixing. The design and play are still incredibly challenging and with a little maintenance this course could be at least a solid Birdie. Despite playing one of the best rounds in my life on this course, I couldn’t fairly give it anything above a Par. My fingers are crossed that one day we can replay this course and see it in a better state.
Long holes with a variety of hazards and terrain
Home of my earliest memories of playing mini-golf
Poor upkeep of overall course
Turf in bad shape
Several water hazard pools were either empty or flooding
- 18 holes, Par 66
- $7 – Coupons for larger groups available on their website
- No “final” hole that takes your ball
- Black rubber covered putter heads
- Two small arcades, bumper boats and go-kart are additional attractions at Lilli Putt