Monday, October 15, 2012

Putt-Putterin' Around: Golf N' Stuff

I guess if I could have the ultimate backyard of my cheesy, childhood dreams, it would look just like the one from "Out of Scale," one of my all-time favorite Donald Duck cartoons.

 "Out of Scale"

While not nearly as persnickety as Donald when it comes to exact scale, I just can't help but love miniatures.  The mountains and meadows, the landscapes and houses, the chipmunks setting up housekeeping in the little houses - I want it all.  All of it plus water features - don't forget the water features; water features are essential in creating the ideal the atmosphere of my dream backyard.  And topiaries.  A snack shack couldn't hurt either.  I guess what I really want is to live in a miniature golf course.  A miniature golf course with a train running through it.

For too long at wacky tacky, we have become so obsessed with finding and sharing beautiful bowling alleys, that we neglected all of the joy and wonder that can be found in and around their sisters-in-20th Century-novelty and leisure, miniature golf courses!  A few months back we decided to resolve the issue by venturing into a pretty spectacular local course, Golf N' Stuff, in Norwalk, CA.

I can't think of any other place on earth, aside from Las Vegas perhaps, where one could encounter an Arabian palace, a tiki hut, a bathing elephant, a castle, and a haunted house all within steps of each other.  Alright, alright, Disneyland has a bunch of that stuff too.  Aren't we lucky to live in a world of such wacky tacky abundance?!

Born in the 1910's, mini golf really reached the peak of its first wave of popularity in the madcap 1920's.  An era of unprecedented prosperity and abundant leisure time, golf became one of the decade's most popular sports.  At a time when people were finding novelty in everything and creating novelty where there was none before (flagpole sitting, marathon dancing, goldfish swallowing), miniature golf just seemed like a natural progression.

Early mini golfers at a fairly primitive course.
Dig that loop-the-loop!

As evidenced by the above photo, early mini golf courses weren't nearly as fantastic as the courses that were yet to come.  I'm so glad a tradition of excess emerged and subsequently became the norm because my favorite part of the sport is less about the sport itself and more about the marvelous, themed structures that create a fantasy world of diminutive proportion.  Looking at all of these structures made me wonder which one I would choose to live in given the opportunity.  Which one would do you favor?

With its cascading waterfalls, towers, turrets, bridges, and fairy tale cachet,
 I have a feeling many would go for the castle...but not Mr. Tiny.

Many of you spooky, gothic types might opt for The Haunted Mansion...
Mr. Tiny is far too big a scaredy cat!

I have no idea what kind of "sole" would want to live in a shoe -
probably some heel.  Yep, stolen straight from I Love Lucy.

The lure of tropical romance and a simple South Seas
 lifestyle had me leaning towards the tiki hut.

And then I saw Santa's Workshop!
Who wouldn't want to live in a world of toys and all-you-can-eat gingerbread?
  Mr. Tiny, that's who!
  I can't even stand the bitter cold of Southern California winters.

Maybe it is because I never had a treehouse/fort of my own,
but given my druthers, I think I would choose the this 
jim-dandy of a lookout/hideaway.  Give me the simple life! 

Along with the lofty perspective, I'd get a "Bad Boy" dunce
of a dog and a two-way tin can telephone.

It's not just the buildings though, it is the horticulture as well.  

The play of scale just makes me happy.  It's like a giant's croquet course
with nary a sticky wicket in sight.

It's all about the water features!
There is something so calming and reassuring about moving water.

Sometimes golf course security doesn't realize that a blog is a valid
reason for climbing over barriers to get the perfect photo.
In my backyard, splashing will definitely be allowed!!!

I almost missed this incredible snake mosaic slithering around the landscape.

I know it wasn't presented as an option, but I think I could even make the
Brady Bunch-era snack bar my home.  Even though the 70's are in the
 hinterlands of wacky tacky-dom, it really makes us happy when things
 don't change - a snack bar time capsule!

I love getting unsolicited appreciation for existing lifestyle choices.
Since I couldn't find additional signage that read
"Thank you for snacking between meals," this one had to suffice.

King Putt, the reigning king of Golf N' Stuff...for now.
He looks like he would be easy to depose; I feel a coup coming on.

Golf N' Stuff Family Fun Center
10555 E Firestone Blvd
Norwalk, CA

Do you have a particularly neat miniature golf course that you frequent?  What was your first mini golf experience?  Let us know!


Mr. Tiny


  1. oh man! what a great course! my favorite is this one we visited in gatlinburg last year, it wasn't even open but it was CUTE:
    i once made a trip about an hour north to what promised to be the world's number one shaded biblical themed mini golf course but it had been torn down. such a sad day.

    1. That course is so awesome. I'm glad you guys thought to ask to take pictures; it never hurts to ask. Have you ever seen "Overboard" with Kurt and Goldie? Cheesy, awesome 80's nonsense where his dream is to build a mini golf course. It's pretty great!!!

  2. Family Fun Center are the bomb! This one is especially amazing, I would live at the snack bar too.

    1. I forgot how cool they could be. I can't wait to go tromping across the lawns of other mini golf courses!!

  3. Oh, my husband is a big fan of minigolf... but our french courses are not so fun that those in the USA... I remember a crazy one in Cape Cod many years ago... it's always fun!!!!
    See our last one game here:

    1. I love your course!!! It looked like a fairy tale!

  4. Gaaah! My obsession is putt putt! The first thing I do before we hit a town on vacation is to look up the closest course. And I am out for blood when I play - I do not come to lose. Ohhhh no!

    I also have a large glass vase in my living room of all taken, stolen, found, and bought balls. Some places will sell you a "souvenir ball" for a dollar or two. If not, yep, one is going home in my purse. Along with the miniature pencil.

    The novelty of courses have intrigued me since childhood and forever will. WHO wouldn't want to sink a putt that passes thru a neon green race car or the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

    1. Hahahaha....we would be perfect golfing companions because I am so non-competitive and non-athletic ! I would put up a fight, but you would surely beat me. I'm all for taking souvenirs. We didn't even play a round at Golf N' Stuff and we left with a handful of mini pencils. I took pictures of me holding the pencil embossed with "Do not take the pencils" but they came out too blurry!!!

  5. Darn - that would have been an awesome photo. I have one of my brother "suspiciously" sliding a ball into his jean's pocket in front of the "Please Do Not Steal the Golf Balls" sign.

    Tip #1: I find the deeper water traps are better for finding a few. On the bigger courses, with more privacy, my dad used to hang on to me by my ankles so I reach in and grab one. Tip #2: Fences near the parking lots are also a good place to find a few in the weeds.

    Keep the putt-putt course blogs a-comin'!

    1. Will do! Thanks for the tips; I love that you keep them on display!!

  6. There used to be a course right up against a freeway in OC, and it was difficult to avoid the temptation to pull over to the shoulder and abandon the car for a few holes of miniature golf. It was on the north side... of the 22, probably.
    Not to be confused with Bullwinkle's/Boomers which remains on the south side of the 405.

  7. There is one in Anaheim on the north side of the 91. I haven't been there yet, but it is on the list!

  8. As a resident of nearby Pico Rivera during my childhood and teens, I was a frequent visitor of Golf N Stuff... thanks again, Mr. Tiny, for conjuring up great memories of my youth with your wonderful posts.

    Did you know that during the 80s there was a fellow who lived up in the tree house and broke a world record? I can still recall him waving down at us as we played a round of golf... also did you know they filmed "The Karate Kid" there? At least one or two scenes.

    1. Dang! In doing research, I saw that Golf N' Stuff was a location for several productions but I forgot to include it. Thanks for remembering! Growing up in that are must have been fun; there is so much cool stuff! Thanks for your support!

  9. Is Golf 'n Stuff a chain? Or is this in fact the exact amusement center featured in the original Karate Kid movie? Inquiring minds wanna know!

    1. As a matter of fact, BOTH are true. Golf 'n Stuff is a small chain of landmarks for family fun AND it is the location used to film Karate Kid and many other films. One can play some putt putt AND live some major Hollywood history!

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