Let me just start by saying that I am not one of those über-serious miniature golf weirdos who feels the game needs to be played a "certain way" in order to have fun. This is mini golf for crying out loud -- a game played by children, adults, and sweaty disgusting teenagers who make out after every hole -- and should be played in whatever fashion that will bring you the most enjoyment out of your golfing experience.
In a country like this, where we are free to choose our own putters, and move the ball with our feet, and appear on an episode of HBO's Real Sex with golf balls jammed in our mouths, I am fine with you doing whatever you want. But if you want to stay TRUE TO THE GAME and respect this great nation of ours, it is important that we are all on the same page -- and follow a certain number of unwritten codes -- so that we can pass on our love of mini golf to the next generation of putt-putters. We cannot let this timeless American treasure be tarnished by a bunch of complete and total perv-jobs who have their erotic sex romps filmed for a late-night cable television program.
Because miniature golf is a family game!
And with family games, comes all sorts of differing opinions as to what types of behavior is acceptable. For example, my 6-yr-old cousin, Dennis, feels that it's totally okay for him to putt the ball while it's still moving, constantly tapping it around like a hockey player, and then turning to look at me when he finally gets it in the cup, thinking I should be excited that he got a "3". But Dennis is an asshole. That's no way to play mini golf, and you're not getting a 3, Dennis, you're getting a 6. Because you're not Mario Lemieux, you don't even know who Mario Lemieux is, and you didn't share your funnel cake with me last night even though I asked very nicely for a very small piece. So for this post, Dennis's, and other amateur's opinions, will not be taken into consideration. Only mine will. Because this is America. And in America, bloggers have all the power.
The first key to an enjoyable miniature golf outing is selecting the right course. Take a 3-block stroll down Ocean City's boardwalk and you will pass no fewer than 12 mini golf courses, each with their own little bells and whistles designed to draw you in. It is imperative that we support courses that are both challenging and innovative, while also providing a certain amount of mini golf amenities that we have grown accustomed to in this disgustingly rich and spoiled country. For example, a course does not necessarily need one of those little wooden podiums at every hole for you to lean on and add your score up (although what a bonus!), but it does need at least one goddamn bench for us to sit on when we get tired and cranky and sunscreen starts dripping into our eyeballs. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you which courses on Ocean City's boardwalk are worth playing, because I am absolutely terrified of that place -- SO MANY TEENAGERS -- but I can tell you what to look for and what to stay away from when scouting 'em out.
You want to play a course with a maximum amount of ridiculously large, stupid, googly-eyed ornaments (including windmills, ramps and erotic sex caves), because miniature golf is stupid. To hit your ball and have it disappear into some dumb fairy gorilla castle, and then dramatically reappear nowhere near the hole is dumb, but it's also amazing! The more elaborate the design, the more tunnels, and secret Snorkel Holes (I call them Snorkel Holes) the better. If a course has a pirate ship and caves and WATERFALLS, then bing bong you've hit the jackpot. This shows that the course owners TAKE PRIDE IN THEIR BUSINESS. Running water and rock canyons and gigantic palm trees are also a mega-whopper-super-bonus, serving as a sweet cooling oasis from the flaming ball of fire in the sky that will one day kill us all.
Back to Snorkel Holes, by far that greatest invention in the history of the sport, or hole designs where the ball goes in one hole, and shoots out another. Snorkel Holes are the best -- the feeling of watching your ball disappear into one cup and then sprinting down the hill to see where it pops out, can only be topped by the feeling of watching that ball roll in for an ace. Now, people who appear on a certain late-night cable television program will argue with you that this excitement pales in comparison to that of a certain other type of erotic ball play, but remember, they are sickos. That being said, it truly is amazing how comfortable those people are with their bodies, and I really feel like we, as Americans, could learn a whole heckuva lot from them if they could just stop being so disgusting for five minutes of their lives.
Of course, Snorkel Holes leads us to the age ole debate of whether or not you're allowed to scope out a Snorkel Hole before actually teeing off on that Snorkel Hole. If you ask my cousin Dennis, his fat dumb face will tell you that "Sure, Cousin Evan, it's just a game!" but I am here to tell you that this kid is WRONG, and it is totally unacceptable for you to place your ball into one of the holes before hitting it and seeing where it ends up. If you want to walk down the course, check it out, and see how the green is shaped before teeing off, fine, but any other type of reconnaissance mission-like behavior is strictly prohibited.
Unfortunately, Snorkel Holes are complicated to build and difficult to maintain, so in the mid-90s, a lot of course designers (mostly in the 'burbs) started to get away from the tubes and pipes and Snorkel Hole layouts that we so thoroughly enjoyed. These courses featured a lot more straight shots from the tee box to the hole, with little stupid shrubs and mulch and hills off to the side to distract us from the fact that it was just a stupid straight shot. This was an era of total bullshit. Just a bunch of money-grubbing Norwegian landscape architects (led by the infamous Nørfslven Vlüørvlensen), designing simplistic holes in an attempt to simulate executive office practice putting. This way, they could make money off of HONEST AMERICAN CONSUMERS LIKE US without actually investing in elaborate tube systems or GIGANTIC WHALES WITH FEET. But those Scandinavians will never see another one of my hard-earned American dollars. If you happen upon a course like this this summer, playing hole after hole with dumb, straight setups (and sand traps, and rocks, get those rocks off the course!), simply walk up to the counter, slam your putter into a fence, and refuse to pay for a goddamn thing. Your veiled threat won't really matter, because most mini-golf places make you pay before you play, but your family will respect you for being a total raging lunatic, which is really all you're going for these days anyway.
All respectable mini golf courses should end with a free game hole. If not, then the course owner is a communist. Even the worst round of golf, one where your little cousin beat you by four strokes BECAUSE HE CHEATS AND DON'T THINK I DIDN'T SEE YOU KICKING THE BALL, DENNIS, can be salvaged with an ace on the 18th. This is your chance to stick it to the world and say, "Yes, I paid for this 1/2 hour of entertainment, but I am NOT paying for it next time. And yes, I understand that I'm not going to be playing by myself next time, and will most likely be bringing my entire family back again and spending another 30 or so dollars, but one of us will play for free if I remember to bring my free game voucher. Now what did I do with that voucher? It's in the trash, isn't it? I threw it in the trash. Dag nabbit."
So there you have it, folks.
What you have? I'm not really sure. But I hope you've had a few minutes to sit and think about this great American pastime of ours, and how best to spend a shitty summer afternoon with your shitty family.
Honestly, you're probably better off going to the movies.
Despicable Me 2 seriously looks hilarious.
Those guys have googly-eyes.
Follow The Evster @TVMWW.