While exploring America I’ve played and seen my fair share of miniature golf courses. From the low budget raised plywood, to the reality based courses, to the fanciful theme park creations with running water and exploding volcanoes. And while I tend not to be a discriminating patron of any putt putt course, there are those that stand above the rest…courses were traditions are made and memories never fade. Where time stands still and where the simple joys of childhood experiences can come rushing back in an instant when revisited as an adult.
For myself one such course is Twain Harte Miniature Golf located under cool pines tree in the Gold Country of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California.
Family owned and operated since 1953 by the Knudson family, the course offers a mixture of memorable, challenging, and simplistically conceived holes that are so fun they dare you to play just one round. From dancing Hawaiian figures in lies, to a loop through an actual tire, to the obligatory “volcano” hole Twain Harte provides a balance and always satisfying putt putt experience.
But for regular patrons of the course, what helps to set Twain Harte apart from other mini golf courses is the simple interactiveness of the 2nd hole and the hospitality of the owners Marilyn and Richard.
While Marilyn and Richard have always created a welcoming family friendly environment, they can be playfully cruel when it comes to Twain Harte’s 2nd hole. An unassuming straight downhill Par 2 without obstacles, the second hole is carefully watched from the “Pro Shop” by the owners who at the push of a button can elevate the bottom of the cup creating a flat surface that causes your birdie, par, or bogey putt to glide straight over the hole. The tension and uncertainty for children and adults alike is always present, never knowing whether one is going to be tortured or given a free pass. Often the moans, groans, and cheers from patrons playing the 2nd hole can be heard throughout course.
The only drawback to the Twain Harte Mini Golf is the fact it’s only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day because of the seasonal temperature/weather in the area.
Still if you ever find yourself in California’s Gold Country and the Sonora/Twain Harte area you owe it to yourself to enjoy a place that has become an institution for locals and tourists alike. For whether you’re a child or adult, memorable good times are ready to be had.
Twain Harte Miniature Golf
23098 Fuller Road
Twain Harte, CA 95383 (Google Maps)
Hours: 10am to 10pm
Here is brief tour of the Twain Harte Mini Golf
*For full disclosure, I actually played Twain Harte Mini Golf so much as child that to this day I still remember the subtle slopes/breaks of the concrete on certain holes. Many thanks to my Grandmother who spend countless hours allowing me to play the course.
**All images are courtesy of golf-glutton.com, which is owned and operated by sports-glutton.com.
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