the art of miniature golf & travel traditions

I imagine every family has at least one traveling tradition. And why wouldn’t they? Traditions can be tons of fun. Traveling is super fun. So, putting the two together just make sense.

One of our family traditions dates back to hubby’s and my honeymoon. We’re quite the gypsy couple and wound up in exotic Tennessee following my walk down the stairway to join him in wedded bliss. (It was a lovely wedding.)

Aren't we a lovely couple?

Aren’t we a lovely couple?

After our long drive to Tennessee we did the usual. Had some ice cream. Explored the shops in Gatlinburg. There are a ton of shops there if you’ve never been. Mostly novelty, touristy stuff, but it’s a lot of fun to check out. And the ice cream is good too. It’s possible, that while in Tennessee, we also started the traveling tradition of getting ice cream on every trip. Yeah…that sounds about right.

Anyway, like new married couples do, we engaged in some fun activities together like shopping and exploring. We also went horseback riding, which was tons of fun and a totally new activity for hubby to try.

But, we did one thing that neither of us had done before.

We played putt putt golf.

Since then, we’ve played miniature golf on many trips. Like in Kissimmee and on a cruise ship. We even played the game in Vegas.


The courses are always a little bit different. Some have been on hillside; others have been surrounded by small alligators. The one on the cruise ship was surrounded by a life sized game of chess. I remember it was windy when we played on the cruise ship and I wondered…if the ball falls over the side of the ship, do they make you go after it?

The courses are always fun and a bit challenging. Though I can’t imagine getting a tiny round ball into a hole way over there not challenging. It’s why I have never taken up the actual sport of golf. My understanding is that it requires a great deal of patience, which I don’t have. It also requires serious hand-eye coordination and I’ve got even less of that than patience.

The last course we played on, in Las Vegas, was the most unique of all the miniature golf courses we’ve played on in the last fifteen years.

First, it was in the backyard of the rental home we were staying at. This was good for two reasons. One, it didn’t require a long drive to get to. While I’m a fan of road trips, this was a long weekend trip and I was tired.

Second, there wasn’t a long line of impatient people waiting their turn at the next hole. If you haven’t played a round of mini golf at a course where we were at (you’d have recognized us, believe me), then you don’t know we are bad at the game. As in really bad. So bad in fact, that we often let other large families (some even larger than hours) play through ahead of us because we each need approximately seventeen swings to get that ball into the hole.


Seventeen swings each times seven (or eight since we usually have one of the kids’ friends traveling with us) is…wait for it…a total of one hundred thirty six swings to play one hole in a miniature golf course. And that’s if none of us have hit the ball so far out of range (or into that alligator infested water) that we don’t have to send one of the boys to fetch it. Because when that happens, then we’ve got to share a ball (or two) and that adds on to our time spent there at hole seven or two or whichever one we’ve actually gotten to.

I’m not kidding when I say that we have shut down miniature golf courses due to the length of time it takes us to play the blasted game. I’m pretty sure they won’t be sending us a groupon to return to the course in Kissimmee.

Add in the factor that we’re terrible at keeping score, hubby and I spend more than the allotted time kissing at each hole, and we are a family full of ADHD-like individuals who are usually laughing, snapping pictures, and talking about random things ad nauseum.

Seriously, if you ever see us in line ahead of you at a putt putt golf venue, just don’t bother getting out of the car. Go home. Go to Mexico and back…you’ll have time. We’ll only be on the twelfth hole by the time you get back.

The other great thing about the course in Vegas? It only had one hole. Just one.

It was as if the owner of that house had read my blog, was aware of the kind of nutty people we are, and thought he’d do all the Las Vegas vacationers a favor that weekend.

“Hey guys don’t worry. Go. Enjoy the mini golf courses all over town. I’ll just throw down a piece of green in the backyard. They’ll think it’s fate or bliss or the cosmos in alignment and you’ll be able to have fun while they’re all taking turns with their “mini” course in the backyard.”

So sweet was he! Am I right?

Because it never fails. When we take a trip, there are two things our kids ask about every single time.

  1. When are we getting ice cream?
  2. Are we going to play miniature golf?

Please. When we took our kids to Pennsylvania all those years ago, we had ice cream every day. It’s possible we have a problem.

And we’ve been to countless miniature golf courses across the country and to a couple on ships out in the ocean as well.

Because traveling traditions are fun! They help families bond. They teach conflict resolution skills. Seriously, they do. And with miniature golf, it gives you something to create conflict about and eighteen holes to work through that conflict. –Just be sure to hold onto the clubs of those in conflict. Or things could get ugly.

So, as you prepare for your next trip, be sure to find a mini golf course in the area you’re traveling to. It doesn’t matter if you have tots you’re traveling with or teenagers, everyone will have some fun and there are small clubs (is that even what they call them? I’m not sure) for the little ones.

Make a game of it. Everyone who wins (and everyone wins a little bit in mini golf) gets ice cream afterward. Or, ice cream for everyone afterward that doesn’t hit their siblings over the head with a club. Or, ice cream for the family of mini golf losers who closed down the park because they’re so bad at the game.

If you’re the latter, you’ll be having ice cream with us most likely, so be sure to say hello. We’ll take a group selfie and I’ll post it on the blog.

Now…go get a hole in one.


4 thoughts on “the art of miniature golf & travel traditions

  1. We never took vacation growing up because my dad couldn’t leave his business. So, on Sundays, we took long drives, usually ending with mini golf and ice cream. For the last 17 years, we’ve lived across the street from a mini golf, arcade and ice cream shop!

    • A childhood without vacations? That’s awful! Though I’m glad you got the Sunday mini golf/ice cream trips. And to live across the street from a mini golf and ice cream shop? It’s like you’ve been rewarded. 🙂

      • I think when I was 10 or so my dad had to give up his business, and I got to see the ocean for the first time. As an adult, I don’t want to go a year without one, even if it’s just a camping trip close to home.

  2. I love the ocean. We’ve taken a vacation every year for fifteen years with the exception of 2011 when we moved across the country. We do everything we can to take two trips a year. If only I could vacation for a living…

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