I live in a neighborhood where there are two things that at first seem incompatible: architectural covenants and miniature golf. The covenants keep everything in line: grass stays trimmed, houses stay nice-looking, and I think there might actually be a law against visible gnomes. And, apparently, the covenants keep mini-golfers in check, too. Go down the block, turn left, and behind the shopping center you come to our classy, understated putt-putt course. Really. No big dinosaurs, miniature windmills or pirates waving cutlasses. "The Columbia SportsPark features an 18-hole miniature golf course that is fun for kids and challenging for adults," says the wording on the Columbia Association website. "The course is surrounded by beautiful plant life, ponds, streams and running waterfalls. There are no windmills or clowns on the course because it is strictly a pros miniature golf course."
I hope you saw that: "Strictly a pros miniature golf course." They even have a hole-by-hole virtual tour. Is it…ethical…to have a mini-golf course that doesn't have Tidy-Bowl blue water and a couple T-Rexes?
All I can say is, thank God for good ol' American competition. My latest local hangout and discovery, Monster Mini-Golf - yeah, it's by the same people who bring you Monster Energy Drink - isn't too far from me, in Jessup. (Actually, that's closer to the prison than to my house, but I digress.) Monster's attractions? Here they are, straight off their website: "Monster Mini Golf is an indoor monster-themed glow-in-the-dark 18-hole miniature golf course that offers a host of fun activities. This is not your average putt-putt golf course. You'll feel the excitement and adventure of playing mini-golf among a scary but cool monster décor with custom and animated props at every turn. Throughout your stay, you will be entertained by our own in-house crazy DJ."
Amazingly, there are people who take their putt-putt very seriously. According to miniaturegolfer.com, "In the long term it is the goal of the World Minigolfsport Federation to have mini-golf included as an Olympic sport."
I don't actually know whether, in order to be considered for an Olympic bid, a course would have to be more, or less, outrageous. But it would seem to me that trying to tune out the DJ and keep your arms steady after a few shots of Monster drinks would be more challenging than anything a "strictly pros course" could provide. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a tee-time with Frankenstein's monster.