Miniature Golf Capital of the World
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach takes pride in its claim as the Miniature Golf Capital of the World. There are over 50 courses in all; most form an ecosystem of manufactured mountains and Ty-D-Bowl blue waterfalls along a strip of Hwy 17 that stretches all the way to the North Carolina border.
Myrtle Beach's golf season lasts from Groundhog Day through Thanksgiving, and a steady stream of beach vacationers brings in a lot of cash. Mini-golf entrepreneurs reinvest their profits to outdo each other with the biggest fire-breathing dragon or most skeleton-packed pirate ship. Construction costs for a Myrtle Beach mini-golf course can run into the millions.
"In Myrtle Beach, the miniature golf courses that refuse to evolve go out of business," said Stephen Lancaster, general manager of mini-golf pacesetters such as Molten Mountain and Mutiny Bay. Many of Myrtle Beach's modern "adventure golf" courses stand on the rubble of older courses that ceased to amuse the current generation. Mini-golf distractions are no longer the blinking eye-lightbulbs of a concrete monkey, but the cannonade eruption of a 50-foot-tall volcano belching a fireball over your head.
Using eye appeal as our guide, we cruised Hwy 17 to see which courses grabbed our attention, such as Cancun Lagoon, Mayday Golf, Hawaiian Rumble, Mt. Atlanticus. It's a surfeit of fog machines, fake rocks, and palm trees, enlivened with an occasional dinosaur or pagan temple. The emphasis is on dramatic landscapes. Where are the psychedelic flower hazards, the trees with the goggly eyeballs?
Since Myrtle Beach rewards novelty in its miniature golf, how about building a course that winds its way through tiny castles, igloos, and rocket ships; around clown heads and sphinxes; over teeter-totters and loop-de-loops; ending in an all-or-nothing shot through the spinning blades of a miniature windmill? That would be something completely new to the current mini-golf scene of Myrtle Beach.
A selection of Myrtle Beach miniature golf courses: