Ever since my recent trip to The Links at Dred Scott, I’ve had a renewed interest in miniature golf. Yeah, yeah, such a thing is mostly for kids, but when designed right, it’s a fun test of skill and creative thinking. When designed wrong, or rather, when not really designed at all, the activity becomes annoyingly arbitrary. Unfortunately, most courses tend to be exercises in arbitrariness, as course “designers” tend to think that it’s good enough to just add random bumps and objects. The best courses make you have to figure out how to get the ball to the hole through skillful aim and/or planning on how to use the objects and hills to change the course of the ball.
The Links at Dred Scott only slightly fulfilled this requirement, and because of its lack, and simply because of being reminded of how much fun mini-golf can be, I’ve found myself hankering to try out some other courses. This desire was so strong that last week I almost tried to persuade my wife to try out the course at the Mall of America, Moose Mountain Adventure Golf, while we were there, even despite the astronomical $9 per person. Luckily, my wife made a really good point: it was such a nice day, so why would we spend it at an inside course when we could try out an outdoor course?
And so we found ourselves trying out Adventure Gardens Miniature Golf at 6335 Portland Avenue South, Richfield, MN 55423. Some of my main complaints about The Links at Dred Scott was it utter openness, its lack of atmosphere, and its arbitrary design. Adventure Gardens corrects almost all of these flaws. The course is located in a city park, but is off to the side mostly surrounded by trees. That in itself is a big plus, as it creates a feeling of walking through the woods (even if the surrounding area was completely open fields). Additionally, the water features are actually interesting, albeit sparse. It does have a “waterfall” type feature, as well as a running “stream” and a few pools of water. While not exactly brilliantly designed, it did add to the experience so that it wasn’t just mini-golf, it was a summer afternoon stroll.
The course itself is generally good. Some thought has been put into creating holes for which you had to think about how to hit the ball, so that you use hills, walls, and objects to bounce the ball to the hole. And while there was a reasonable amount of water features, the holes did not have any issue with moisture, as The Links at Dred Scott did.
However, while the holes did offer some creative thought, a lot more planning could have gone into it. Most of the holes are extremely short, and what seemed mildly clever and interesting at the beginning becomes a bit tiring by the later holes when the same devices are used over and over again. Additionally, even if you do hit a clever shot, you’re unlikely to gain much on a person simply hitting the ball straight. There’s really not enough strategy or skill required for the course.
Click on thumbnails for larger images
The main question is whether or not I’d return. It’s hard to say. The normal price for a round is about $7. We had a 2-for-1 coupon making it far more reasonable. Given the very short time it takes to finish a round, that the holes become uninteresting with more exposure, and because the atmosphere wears a bit thin because of the surrounding open fields, it’s hard to rationalize $14 for two people.
The course is undoubtedly better than The Links at Dred Scott, so if it’s a choice between the two, definitely go with Adventure Gardens. Additionally, because of the better water features and design, kids will probably have more fun with Adventure Gardens.
Next up, Moose Mountain… maybe. Again, it is the Mall of America… and $9 per person.