Searching for a top-notch miniature golf course at the Jersey Shore? Rich Lahey, president of an industry-leading design and construction firm, suggests a course with “mounds undulating in the greens, sand traps and water features, but not kitschy clowns and windmills.”
Kitschy clowns and windmills? That can only be a reference to miniature golf of the 1950s and ’60s. But, thanks in part to Lahey’s Harris Miniature Golf, the industry has (mostly) left behind its hokey roadside-attraction image.
Harris courses appear up and down the Shore and throughout New Jersey, as well as in 49 out of 50 states and in other countries around the world.
What are the best, newest and most exciting Shore courses to check out this summer? The experts weigh in.
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Harris VP Kaitlyn Conaboy is particularly fond of the 18-hole Island Miniature Golf in Wildwood (4501 New Jersey Avenue) for its family-friendly atmosphere. “It’s such a beautiful course with a big cave and waterfall,” she says.
Another Harris favorite is the 19-hole Medieval Fantasy Mini Golf on the boardwalk in Ocean City, played inside a black-light room and outdoors in a covered space.
Leaning into the Wildwoods Doo Wop architecture style is Starlux Mini Golf (4800 Ocean Avenue), featuring three nine-hole courses with a giant sand dune, plastic palm trees and a fire pit to enjoy boardwalk treats.
Since 1938, Stockton Golf on the grounds of the Stockton Inns in Cape May (809 Beach Avenue) has featured miniature golf. Harris rebuilt the course with gardens and over 150 different species of plants that attract native birds and butterflies.
In downtown Stone Harbor, Club 18 Miniature Golf (9505 Third Avenue) spans five different levels. Kids can play while their parents shop.
There is a no more iconic spot than Atlantic City Miniature Golf (1 Kennedy Plaza), built in 2000 on the famed Boardwalk—the country’s oldest. Kerri Lahey-Alexander, who manages several Harris courses, calls the design “very gardenesque,” with Victorian flair, and adds, “The Boardwalk is great for people-watching.”
Recently opened in AC is North Beach Mini Golf (120 Euclid Avenue) across from the Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City. Reflecting AC’s varied past, the course features a bootlegging theme, nautical elements and even a hole shaped as a craps table.
Well worth the drive is the nautically themed Jen’s Links at LBI in Barnegat Light (501 Broadway), which Harris COO Glenn Lynn describes as a “high-end, kick-ass course” overlooking Barnegat Bay. The two 18-hole courses feature greens played through a shipwreck, around a fishing village, next to rushing waterfalls and cliffs, and through caves and caverns.
For 55 years, a 25-foot bearded giant has towered over the ninth hole at Barnacle Bill’s Miniature Golf in Ortley Beach (1968 Route 35N). After Hurricane Sandy, he watched as the course was rebuilt by Harris in 2013.
Imaginatively designed over multiple levels, the two 18-hole courses at Castaway Cove Mini Golf at Jenkinson’s Boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach (300 Ocean Avenue) offer views on high of the ocean and shaded sections as respite during hot summer days.
Uniquely created for people with special needs, the Toms River Field of Dreams (1505 North Bay Avenue) opened this spring with a nine-hole miniature golf course. The public is welcome from 3-5 pm daily.
Tops among enthusiasts is Bluegrass Mini Golf adjacent to Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport (175 Oceanport Avenue). Twice in the past decade, the ProMiniGolf Association has played its national championship at the two Bluegrass 18-hole courses. Mini-golf enthusiast Greg Giombarrese of the Jersey Shore BlueClaws says, “It’s challenging, but plays fairly.”
The rebuilt 18-hole Shipwreck Island Mini Golf sits alongside the boardwalk in Bradley Beach (800 Ocean Avenue). The “shipwrecked” boat, SS Sandy, is a nod to Hurricane Sandy, which leveled the old course in 2012.
Looking for more fun at the Shore this summer? Check out New Jersey Monthly’s list of the best things to do.
North Beach Mini Golf, Asbury Eighteen Mini-Golf and Castaway Cove were built by companies other than Harris Miniature Golf.Click here to leave a comment