George Vitense Golfland (California Course) – Madison, WI

We made it!
We made it!

Played May 27, 2013
Reviewed by The Pink Putter

Vitense Golfland is like no miniature golf course we have ever played. It was recommended to us by our mini-golf loving friend, Chris Pennington, who is in the process of opening his own artist-designed mini-golf course in St. Paul, MN next year. Vitense was his childhood course, a place that has inspired him immensely and that he holds near and dear to his heart. Nestled in the outskirts of Madison, WI, Vitense is a midwest treasure. It consists of two outdoor courses, themed California and Wisconsin respectively and one indoor course, themed around the city of Madison. You can read all about the history of George Vitense and the course on their site’s About Page. Because this course is so unique, amazing and fun, each course has earned its own reviews along with a slew of photos and videos. I will begin with the California Course.

Rating:

Hole-in-One – There is no way around it, Vitense is hands down one of the best courses we’ve ever played. Not only do its three courses provide hours of mini golf fun, but they do so in ways we’ve never seen before. Each course has a solid foundation of classic kitsch, a huge variety of challenging trick shots and obstacles and the ever important river that winds its way through the course providing a number of water hazards. But on top of all this, each course is also like a giant playground – for kids and adults. Playful elements like rock climbing walls, slides, mountains, playhouses, gliders and spinning wheels, just to name a few, are integrated into the landscape of the course, providing yet another level of interaction that brings the experience beyond just mini golf. The California course loosely references themes of Hollywood, from movie characters to landscaping. I do wonder how some of the decor fits into the theme, but ultimately it really doesn’t matter. The more bizarre the reference, the sillier it all looks and I like that.

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Sign at the front entrance.
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View from the hilltop, just about to start the California course.
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After you putt under Old Mac Donald’s Farm, you are invited to crawl through the barn…
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…and slide out the other side.
Hi!
Hi!
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View from the top of a tiered hole, overlooking other holes on the California course.
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From a different angle.
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A fiberglass lion makes reference to the Wizard of Oz.
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A jolly frog watches as you make your way through the skillful shot of this wishing well.
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Silly chicks being hatched.
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Classic windmill.
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The Tin Man guards a perfectly trimmed topiary. Watch out for the pond on this shot.
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Another skill shot, don’t putt to hard!
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A narrow bridge surrounded by water hazards.
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Mr. Tee putts over the river at the base of this mountain.
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To the left, where your ball exits. To the right, where you exit.
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A fake palm tree, a fiberglass rooster, the Tin Man, a topiary, a weird purple dinosaur, a classic windmill and a colorful light post…and this is just one corner of the course!
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Mr. Tee poses with tree.
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A colorful take on the Eiffel Tower.
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The Pink Putter opts to climb the mountain. Why both with boring stairs?
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An interesting and colorful seating area.
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Mr. Tee gets ready to take on the castle.
The hippo was the central obstacle of this hole. This woman, without asking, took about 10 minutes to photograph these kids on the hippo. We stood there and patiently waited and never got a thanks or apology for the inconvenience.
The hippo was the central obstacle of this hole. This woman, without asking, took about 10 minutes to photograph these kids on the hippo. We stood there and patiently waited and never got a thanks or apology for the inconvenience.
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This waterwheel was tricky to get through…see video below.

[youtube http://youtu.be/q2_rXtWC7Rk]

After the last hole was this bonus Pachinko style hole where I won a ticket for a free game!
After the last hole was this bonus Pachinko style hole where I won a ticket for a free game!

Pros:

Fun theme with amazing kitsch
A huge variety of obstacles of skill and chance
Water features
Slides, rockers, gliders, climbing walls and other silly interactive accoutrements

Cons:

Some parts of the course appear worn out from age and weather.

Vitense Golfland Website

Nerdy Notes:

  • 18 holes, par 67
  • No flags in holes.
  • Rubber covered putters
  • 18 holes for $7.75, 36 holes for $12.00, all 54 holes for $16.00
  • Cafeteria, Driving Range and Pro Shop on site.

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