Monday, August 27, 2012

Putt U - Center Valley, PA

Played August 14, 2012
Cost: $5.50 / course (mid-day price) $6 / course (normal)
Reviewed by Mr. Tee

After playing the soggy greens of Oasis in nearby Bethlehem, The Pink Putter and I were craving a course of real substance. Putt U provided not only once but twice! The slogan "The Highest Degree of Mini-Golf" was on the money. Putt U provided two courses (blue and red) that each had a 19th "skill shot" hole with the opportunity to win a prize. We opted to play both courses and were doubly rewarded.

Hole-in-one - The whole experience at Putt U was what one (or at least us) would want in a classic mini-golf course. The play included a lot of common hazards, sloping and decor but the way in which everything was put together showed a sense of pride in the craft making a mini-golf course. The sand traps used real sand. On the blue course, the main waterfall connected to streams and water hazards for the whole course. Each hole included tips and facts about mini-golf. Score cards were color coordinated to the different courses and both included a list of "Other Stuff you Should know" like The moon is 239,000 miles from the earth and She love you yeah yeah yeah. A mascot (Prof Puttz!!). A club house that included ice cream.

Ok, you get it. We enjoyed this place!

Best selection of balls we've seen 

Expansive waterway on the Blue Course

Note the use of real sand in the sand traps

The Pink Putter and Professor Puttz

Doh! One stroke penalty.

Trippy Golf Cart

Logo for the U

Multiple courses
Blue course had TONS of water related play / hazards
Mini-golf tips & facts at every hole
Real sand in the sand traps
Optional starting tees (kids, normal and pro)
Fun music (see below)
Photos of each hole on their website
Fun / interactive Facebook page

Dreary Day
Lack of kitsch

I'm a massive music nerd and begrudgingly expect mini-golf courses to pump in the same top 40 songs you would hear in your average mall or big box store. Once again Putt U exceded expectations and played a fun selection of music that matched the setting. This was not lost on me. Lots of early rock 'n' roll and television / movie theme songs (Flintstones, Adam's Family, Rocky, Beverly Hills Cop) were the icing on the cake of an idyllic and classic mini-golf course.

On the last day of our east coast trip, we drove by Putt U and the marquee said "mini-golf is for lovers". The Pink Putter and I are mini-golf lovers and it's clear the folks at Putt U are as well.

Putt U website
Putt U on Facebook

Monday, August 20, 2012

Oasis - Bethlehem, PA

Played August 14th, 2012
Cost: $5.50 (credit cards accepted)
Reviewed by the Pink Putter

Growing up in Bethlehem, this course was a childhood classic for me, however it has been completely renovated since my memories from the early 1990's. It's got a family restaurant with a full ice cream/sundae menu and is located across the street from a great italian restaurant (Fiesta Italiana) and less than a mile from the Lehigh Valley International Airport.

Par- This course was complete with a cave, a waterfall and two rivers. It had one hole with fun water play and a few holes with varied pipe routes. Aside from the rain that had stopped less than an hour before we played (see photos below), the course was well manicured and maintained. The holes had a good amount of variety, but the course really lacked a sense of fun and kitsch. Clean with a bit of challenge and a dose of boring.

This is the first course we've played with flags!

Nice water features.

The giant water puddle was a result of rain the entire morning before we went out to play.

This hole took me 6 strokes to get through the flooding.

Cave play.

This hole was designed specifically to play your ball down the river and onto the lower green.

Clean and well-maintained.
Fun water and pipe plays.
Credit Cards accepted.
Ice cream/mini-arcade on property.

Visually boring- not enough kitsch!
Flooded holes (due to rain)
No fun 18th hole or prizes for the winner.

Oasis Facebook Page

Friday, August 17, 2012

Two T's - Easton, PA

Played August 13, 2012
Cost: $6 (includes free Italian ice for winner of the round)
Reviewed by Mr. Tee

Near the hometown of the Pink Putter (and Crayola Crayons) in the Lehigh Valley resides a top notch mini-golf course called Two T's. Like many other mini-golf courses, it's connected to other businesses including a driving range and creamery.

Birdie - Themed appropriately to it's locale, the course has a Pennsylvania country feel. There was a large play-thru cave, barn, waterfalls and windmill throughout the course. Many of the holes give the option of playing through water (like the video we posted in the review of Barnyard Swing), pipes and bridges. The play was moderately difficult (which is good) but it lacked a sense of whimsy I prefer. The photos below are nice but don't give it enough justice. The ball dispenser and free Italian ice are major highlights but the course is well deserving of a "Birdie" rating.

Best golf ball dispenser!

Classic and functioning windmill

Around the bend and into the hole

Play over the bridge


Out of the caves and on to the green

We were hungry so they let us claim the prize early

Beautiful day for mini-golf

Variety of landscape
Use of pipes and water to move along the ball
Ball dispenser (see photo above)
Well manicured course
Holes walk through Cave / Barn
Free Italian Ice for each group

Missing sense of whimsy
18th hole wasn't any different than other holes

Two T's website
Two T's on Facebook

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Barnyard Swing - Cooperstown, NY

Played on August 11, 2012
Cost: $6
Reviewed by the Pink Putter

Birdie - This course was fun! It had a lot of variety between each hole. If you are ever in the area, this is the only course worth playing (see our review of Puttin' Around if you're that curious).

We played this course just outside of Cooperstown, NY on some down time during a friend's wedding weekend in Upstate New York. It's smartly adjacent to the Cooperstown Dreams Park (an apparent destination for young baseball teams from around the country) to capitalize on the town's increasingly pathetic baseball tourism culture. But that didn't stop us serious putters from giving it a whirl...

View of the barn where we payed for our games.

View at Hole 1. Hole two was one of the coolest holes we've played! See video below, it explains it all.

As you can see, I was very excited about my hole-in-one!

Hole 3 had a central train car with a clever pipe route down the front and out the back.

 The down side of this course? Tacky/tasteless mannequins were awkwardly placed at random holes.

A fun hole- the ball went up through the barn and came out different pipes on the lower green (dependent on if you made it over the little ramp up the hill).

18th hole- Free ice cream for a hole in one. This hole even had audio responses when the ball got in.

Fun play.
A little bit of farm-themed kitsch (perfect for Upstate NY).
Water features.

Terrible music played over the speakers.
Tacky mannequins!
Not the most challenging course.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Puttin' Around - Cooperstown, NY

Played on August 11, 2012
Cost $6
Reviewed by Mr. Tee

There is a lot that can be said about this course but unfortunately, most of it is not good.

Cooperstown is known for being a sleepy little town in Upstate New York with lots of B & Bs and The Baseball Hall of Fame. The Pink Putter and I ventured there for a wedding but were drawn in to the mini-golf attractions. She'll review the other course we played in Cooperstown, Barnyard Swing, but we started with Puttin' Around.

Whiff - When we first saw this course it didn't leave too much to the imagination but we wanted to give it a shot. Our first tip off that this place was no good came when we were given a score card that focused more space on over-priced garbage food options like the "Doggie Deal" and "All American" than scoring. The holes were way too narrow and lacked any obstacles, sand traps, water hazards or creativity.

First hole - Pretty bland

 My blue ball is stuck!

Yes, the hole is straight ahead, so why the extra turf to the right?

The river done dry up!

Concrete jungle

 18th Hole - Two equally uninteresting routes to the finish

At most courses, you play the 18th hole to win an extra game or some prize but at the very least, you lose your ball. At Puttin' Around, you hand in the ball and hopefully leave and never come back. Barnyard Swing is right down the road and a better use of your time and money.

Clean / well maintained greens

No kitsch / creative element to the design
Sterile - not in a good way
Narrow holes
"Shoot Thru" obstacles didn't work (aka ball didn't roll through pipe)
Not fun

Cooperstown Fun Park / Puttin' Around Website

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Giggle Ridge - Lake Cultus, B.C.

Played by the Pink Putter back in June 2010
Cost: $8.75 per play
Reviewed by the Pink Putter

Hole-in-one: This course is top notch- if you can get there. 

I thought I'd review this one in retrospect, only because it's a goodie! Giggle Ridge Adventure Golf is located at Lake Cultus in British Columbia and was designed and constructed by Dan Sawatzky over at The Imagination Corporation. Dan took us out to play this course during the Sign Magic Workshop I attended so that he could show off his techniques and reinforce the idea of telling a story through a themed environment.

Front entrance, and there is Dan Sawatzky himself.

Fancy cashier's office and snack bar.

My opponents, hole #1.

See that face up in the tree?

 Now that's what you call a bridge.

Beautiful detail work. All sculpted cement.

 The story is about an old logging company, the train adds to this narrative.

Look at that bright blue water!

Even the hole numbers are well considered!

I got a hole in one on this one, but unfortunately never got to go back to use my free game.

Unique story, well designed and fantastically constructed.
Clean, challenging, quirky and fun.

A bit far away for regular play (you need a plane ticket, a passport and a car to get here from the midwest).
On the pricer side ($8.75 in Canadian currency)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Action City - Eau, Claire, WI

Played on July 17, 2012
Cost: $6 ($3 for second round)
Reviewed by Mr. Tee

Welcome to the first entry of our mini-golf blog. The adventure begins with an impromptu stop on our voyage from Chicago back home to Minneapolis.

Par - The design of the course was simplistic: No castles, bridges, moving objects or even sand traps. The terrain was well manicured but lacked personality. It's the mini-golf equivalent of a suburban home. It's nice for a little bit but lacks the character and personality of something that you would go out of your way to tell your friends about.

Population: Fun Hundred = overstated