You may (or may not) have heard of the Rhubarb triangle, an area of some 9 square miles around Wakefield in West Yorkshire. A native of Siberia, Rhubarb thrives in the wet cold winters in Yorkshire and West Yorkshire once produced 90% of the world’s winter forced rhubarb.
Well, now there has been another strange confluence in the area, but this time it’s crazy golf courses that are springing up. The crazy golf triangle is only about a mile or so in area, where six top crazy golf courses with differing themes converge -possibly in alliance with the stars – but more certainly in alliance with junction 32 off the motorway. It was a challenge my friend Amanda and I decided to take up on August 8th 2015, hence to be known as Crazy Golf Saturday.
|Start at the very beginning..|
We first started off at Mr Mulligan’s Pirate Golf, which has two 18 hole courses, one slightly easier (apparently) than the other. The courses are surprisingly to be found in the middle of the Castleford Shopping Centre. Even more surprisingly it was the sort of scorching summer day that in Northern England is a rare as finding a diamond in a Gregg’s pasty. Both courses are really well designed with lots of fun obstacles and inventive elements enough to keep both adults and children well entertained. I loved the giant squid and the little raft you have to pull yourself across the river on.
|Are you looking at me?|
You can putt your ball down the mouth of a giant snake and run the gamut of a few plastic crocodiles on the way. We did start off scoring properly, effecting a rather half-hearted competitive spirit, but full on crazy golf is actually quite hard. I confess that cheating by using a helpful guiding foot and promptly retaking particularly hopeless shots soon became the norm rather than the exception. Happily for us we had arrived dressed in pirate hats and this meant that we both got to try both courses for the bargain price of £5. Plus we got a free pirate tattoo and a slushy at half time! The staff at Mr Mulligan’s pirate golf were extremely helpful and friendly and I can recommend a session at this jolly outdoor course without hesitation. They are particularly looking forward to national talk like a pirate day (‘Avast me hearties’ etc) which is on 14th September. Afterwards you can go to the next door American Diner for cocktails and hotdogs or shop for ‘designer’ brands if you feel this would make your day complete.
|Pirates pounce and put you off|
Indoors inside the huge Xscape entertainment complex nearby. Indoor courses are helpful for us UK residents, as much of the time doing outdoor things means getting wet, cold or both.
The first two we encountered here had a jungle theme and featured a large animatronic T Rex (the T Rex trail) on one, and an active volcano on the other. The T Rex waves its tail and head and roars and gnashes its jaws menacingly from time to time, and the volcano lights up and puffs out smoke through multi coloured lights. All very good fun indeed.
The final two courses were different again. One was a 4D glow in the dark course – the curse of the Mummy’s Tomb – where you had to wear 3 D glasses, and the other was called Atlantis and was a kind of glow in the dark neon undersea world experience. The clubs glow, the balls glow, the holes glow, and you negotiate the glowing fish and the octopus and the treasure chests and the sharks – all part of every submariner’s usual adventures.
We were suffering a little bit from Crazy Golf fatigue by this time, so we didn’t go in the 4D one as the glasses made us feel a bit dizzy and the undersea world was just too dark for me to see what I was doing with any degree of accuracy.
Crazy golf (sometimes known as mini golf) has quite a long and illustrious history. In the summer of 1930, four million Americans played every night. Incredibly the cinema box office suffered as people forsook the movie house for ‘minigolf.’ Motion picture theatres were converted to courses, and dance halls and pool halls also suffered a loss of custom.
|Cool 4D golf guy|
Crazy golf, for the first time and possibly the only time, was glamorous, chic and sexy. Tycoons such as the Vanderbildts had their own elaborate courses.
The most imaginative hole though was probably in Los Angeles where the player had to putt through a bear cage. The owners had trained the bear to dab its paw at balls rolling past him (if anyone wishes to recreate this hole, the owners used balls smeared with honey and fish to train the bear.) They haven’t got this one at Xscape yet, but it can only be a matter of time..
|Watch out for the mummy’s curse!|
The oldest mini golf course in existence can actually be found in Scotland: The Ladies’ Putting Club of St. Andrews was formed in 1867 as a members-only green for women golfers. Of course, the club was a result of the conventions of the day that decreed it improper for a lady to “take the club back past their shoulder.” There may not have been any windmills or loop-the-loop obstacles on this course, but the green was and remains one of the most prestigious miniature courses around. Maybe it is time for Crazy Golf to take centre stage again. So, if you feel you would like to contribute to the revival of its fortunes, why not try turning of the M62 just at junction 32, enter the Crazy Golf triangle and try the six course challenge!
|Child labour can sometimes be handy|