Mini Golf Maxi Fun

Tee off at five Ocean City courses replete with crazy fantasy landscapes, kooky hazards and no inconvenient long walks.

Focus On Recreation

May 23, 2004|By Larry Bingham | Larry Bingham,Sun Staff

Like a bad dream, they keep coming at you, one after the other, on nearly every corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Coastal Highway. Ocean City may not be the birthplace of miniature golf, but the game thrives there. And no wonder.

Who can resist those crashing airplanes, roaring dinosaurs, and jousting knights?

(And who doesn't need a break every now and then from the sweltering beach?)

We checked out how five of the coolest courses tee up:

The After-Dinner Course

If you can walk when you leave the Embers Restaurant all-you-can-eat seafood and prime-rib buffet, you can cross the parking lot and play Embers Island Golf, 36 high-end holes with high-tech thrills -- an exploding volcano on one course, fighting pirate ships on the other. The cheap entertainment makes you think you're getting more for the steep admission than a borrowed ball and a rented club.

* Handicap hole: On Number 3 on the volcano course, aim your first putt up the carpeted berm on the right-hand side, into the stream. The water will carry your ball down a chute and spit it straight into the hole.

Embers Island Golf

23rd Street & Coastal Highway


$7 per person

The Rainy-Day Course

Thank the Lord that the good folks at Old Pro Golf, who own and operate seven courses in Ocean City, built one indoors. So what if the Undersea Adventure sometimes smells like a basement? Who cares if the cheesy mermaid mechanically flaps her tail and the wavy-lipped clam opens and closes its mouth on sputtering hinges? If you've ever been trapped inside a beach condo with a couple of kids and a Wiggles video, you'd be happy to play inside a sunken submarine, too.

* Handicap hole: Don't be fooled by the burbling brook to the right on Number 11. Dodge the rocks on your left to go straight through, and you'll wind up where you want to be.

Undersea Adventure

68th Street & Coastal Highway


$4.50-$6.50 per person; children 2 and under free

The Empty-Your- Pockets Course

Lost Galaxy Golf screams for attention with its red waterfall, its green alien, and its hulking meteorite. But tell yourself you've landed on another planet because the entrance to this course forces you and your kids to walk through the video arcade and the laser tag and the snack bar and the ball pit before you even get to the first green.

"Take me to your leader," you might as well say. "Take all my money now."

* Handicap hole: The comma-shaped berm on Number 8 is your friend. Aim to roll your ball from the left-hand side of the comma around the rim and hit it hard enough to bank off the opposite wall and roll in. Hit the berm dead-on and you'll be starting over -- and buying the first round at the snack bar afterward.

Lost Galaxy Golf

33rd Street & Coastal Highway


$7 per person

The Ready-for- Adventure Course

If you find yourself stuck behind a party of six and every one of them takes a mulligan, you might as well be stuck in a place that amuses you. You could do worse than be stuck at Professor Hacker's Lost Treasure Golf. This is a course that makes fun of itself and appeals to adults and kids alike. Professor Duffer Hacker is an archaeologist like Indiana Jones. That's his 1930s airplane crashed on top of the boulders, and he's the one who discovered the skull cave looking for diamonds and gold.

The course is all the way up at 139th Street, almost to Fenwick Island, but it's a discovery worth your time.

* Handicap hole: Number 3 on the diamond course is a tricky series of cascading holes. You want Numero Uno. The second hole sends you off in la-la land, and the third hole ships your ball to the moon.

Professor Hacker's Lost Treasure Golf

139th Street & Coastal Highway


$3.50-$7 per person

The Wear-'Em-Out Course

A family of four can spend $28 on a round at the fancier courses where they don't offer discounts even for toddlers. To get the most for your money, try Ice Land Golf. It's the giant igloo three blocks south of U.S. 50. So maybe you can see the hoses feeding the pools, and maybe the stucco is flaking and the air-brushed polar bears and penguins are looking a little weathered. So what?

You've got Trimpers Ferris wheel in front of you, condos behind you, the fishing pier on your right, a "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" sign on your left.

It doesn't get any more Ocean City than this.

* Handicap hole: The trick on Number 9 is to place your ball on the far tee hole on the right and give it enough muscle to get you up the hill and into the passage. Too much elbow grease and you'll be banking around the cement walls like a pinball and then staring down the barrel of a two-putt or worse to finish.

Ice Land Golf

400 South Philadelphia Ave.


$3-$6 per person

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