The Summer Sport of Miniature Golf

With temperatures expected to reach 97 degrees in NYC, it is safe to say that summer is officially here.  Growing up in Chicago I always used to go play minigolf just off of Lake Shore Drive.  The course wasn’t the most spectacular, but the mini sport was so much fun it just didn’t matter.  So, in honor of the rising temperatures I offer you a list of the best and weirdest miniature golf courses to be found.  Who knows, with a little practice this summer, perhaps you will be able to become an official competitor in the World Minigolf Sport Federation (yes, it really does exist!).

1. Around the World in 18 Holes, Lake George, NY.

With just one quick 18-hole game, you will have the chance to see the world here at Around the World in 18 Holes.  Or if you are afraid of international travel, you can enjoy a domestic tour on their other course, Around the U.S.A. in 18 Holes!

2. Par-King Skill Golf, Lincolnshire, IL.

Par-King Skill, a suburban Chicago favorite, dubs itself the world’s most unusual golf course, and, out respect for the half-century-old course, I will not going to disagree. It features an elaborate roller-coaster hole made out of over 750 wood pieces, and a very tall Sears Tower hole to represent Chicago pride!

3. Figment, New York City, NY.

For the past four summers, the nonprofit artist collective Figment has made mini golf its passionate project, asking creative collaborators to design a brand-new course each year on Governors Island. This year’s theme is “Bugs & Features.” The two most popular holes from previous years (including the ominously titled “Venus Fly Trap”) join twelve new ones. Keep an eye out for a giant fly swatter and bee-themed hole on this free miniature golf course.

4. Rocket Park Mini Golf, New York City, NY.

The New York Hall of Science’s course is a nine-hole beauty set in sight of two authentic NASA rockets and designed to illustrate laws of motion and chart the steps of a space journey. Players need expert timing to crack the “Launch Window”—if you hit your ball at the wrong moment, it will collide with revolving celestial matter.  This is definitely the most educational miniature golf course around.

5. Ahlgrim’s Acres, a Palatine, Ill

Death is part of life, so there’s no point moping around and not playing miniature golf when a loved one passes away. Instead bring that fresh corpse to Ahlgrim’s Acres, a Palatine, Ill., funeral home which offers a free round of mini golf in their mortuary-themed basement course with every standard funeral package.  This one definitely wins the award for the most depressing miniature golf course around.

6. Monster Mini Golf, Fairfield, NJ.

Essentially this place is like Halloween year round, but with glow in the dark mini golf to the sounds of an in-house DJ.  I hate to say it, but this is so New Jersey!

7. The Lexington Ice Center, Lexington, KY.


The Lexington Ice Center features three biblically themed mini golf courses — Old Testament, New Testament and miracles. It was also rated one of the 10 best miniature golf destinations in America by the Travel Channel, so I guess that means that even the more secular among us can appreciate the high-quality play…

8. Pirate Island Golf, Avalon, Ocean City, and Sea Isle City, NJ.

During the summer of 1994 in Avalon, New Jersey, partners Pat Croce and Mark Benevento took their love for business, golf, and everything pirate and created what was the start of a piratical invasion.  Seems like a pretty weird combo, but I guess it works because they now have three locations on the Jersey Shore.  Each course offers 18 riveting holes that include things like talking pirates, waterfalls, caves and pirate ships.


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