By Collin Hall, Editor / Graphic by Emily Hadorn for Do the Shore
My high school girlfriend would nag me constantly to take her mini golfing. “Collin, you can teach me how to swing the putter properly and it will be just so cute, like a movie moment, you can hold my waist and show me how to grab the putter.” Three years into our relationship, I was just ready to graduate and move on, but we were still tied at the hip and bickering like an old married couple. “Lila, that sounds so cringe and corny. Mini golf is boring!” “No it isn’t Collin, please?”
But many years later, I sure wish we had gone mini golfing. Not to save a limping relationship, but to remind my high school self that 1. mini golfing is awesome and 2. It’s okay to do silly things in public.
I think about my past pretensions after getting into mini golf in a big way this summer. I live here year-round, and it can be hard to enjoy a lot of the shore’s activities with a full work schedule and through the white noise of everyday life. Year-rounders joke that drinking is a local’s favorite winter pastime, but I got really into virtual reality (VR) mini golf this past winter instead. I pull my Quest headset over my head and am transported to mini-golf courses in fantastical lands made of ice, fire, and sometimes candy. When summer began proper, I decided to try the real thing again for the first time in many years.
And yeah, I was so wrong in high school. Mini golf is inexpensive; an 18-round course costs as little as eight dollars. Part of mini golf’s appeal is the theming and the plethora of silly gimmicks to mess with your ball, and even a bad course offers this. A single rock in the middle of a hole can mean life-or-death for your round’s score. Cape May County is home to over 25 mini-golf courses, and I hope to try them all by summer’s end. And if reality overtakes ambition, maybe I can try them all before my time in the county sunsets.
There’s an especially good hole at the Family Fun Center on Route 47 that has three sharp turns down a bumpy hill; every stroke was life or death as I watched my friend overtake me and land a par. I blushed as I landed a +6.
Mini golf is silly, competitive, cheap, and a great way to remind myself that the joys of childhood don’t end, they just evolve. I hope Lila went on to get the 18-holes of mini-golf she deserved.