Jun 01 2010
I am not a golfer; in fact, the entire premise of wandering around acres and acres of land hitting a tiny ball into a tiny hole baffles me. Miniature golf, however, has been something I’ve enjoyed since I was a little kid and Mom would let us stop to play a round on the 12-hour trip to Grandma’s house each summer. (I wonder if the course along Highway 2 in northern Wisconsin is still there?)
When I was in college, two friends and I loved playing, and rating courses, and wished we had a way of sharing our wealth of information with the general mini-golfing public. (This was before the days of blogging, and now I’m really showing my age.)
This enjoyment of putt-putt golf has trickled down to my children, who now regularly beg to go mini-golfing while on vacation, or every time we drive past New Ulm’s Putting Green.
On a weather-perfect Memorial Day, after attending our community’s remembrance program, I needed to run errands with all the kids in tow. This is perhaps my most dreaded part of summer, because, contrary to public belief, shopping with children does not necessarily get easy as they get older. I’m not above bribery in desperate times, so I told them I’d taking them mini-golfing when we were done with our stops. IF they were good. And IF it wasn’t too expensive.
They did reasonably well, so the first condition was met to my satisfaction. We drove to Hutchinson’s Northern Links mini golf and inquired about the price. And we almost left. I had a budget of $20 in mind, but with rates of $8 for adults and $6 for kids 10 and under, it was a $32 bill for the five of us. Ouch. (Compare this to $4.50 and $3.50 at Putting Green, $5.95 for everyone at Mankato’s WOW Zone, and $6/$5 at LARK Toys.) It was with my readers in mind that I spent the extra $12 and we were on our merry golfing way.
I have to say that I was impressed with the course. It’s not gimmicky with a corny theme, moving parts, or blacklighting, but it’s a really nice 18-hole course. It’s connected with Landscape Concepts, and the water features and pathways are examples of the landscaping work the company does. The entire course is nicely set up, with flowers and trees and rocks and benches making it a pleasing place to be.
But what about the holes? I’ve been on mini-golf courses where the slopes aren’t done right, or with ridges in places where there shouldn’t be ridges, making it nearly impossible to get the ball in the hole even with a good shot. When we golfed at Wisconsin Dells’ Pirate’s Cove, my husband and I both felt that even the most challenging of their five courses wasn’t all that difficult. But golfing at Northern Links was very, very good. Some holes were easy, and even the kids could get par, but others were so challenging that none of us got the ball to the hole. For all of the holes, though, the slope was well-done, so that if we hit a good shot, it made it to the hole if it should have. It was a very nice course to play.
Northern Links Mini Golf is on Highway 15 in Hutchinson, Minnesota, just north of the roundabout. A batting cage is also featured in the complex. A few concessions are available in the clubhouse and there is a shaded picnic table near the parking lot. Bottom line: This is a very nice miniature golf course… for those who can afford the fees.
More about Hutchinson, MN, at Uptake.