Course: Big Rock Mini Golf
Location: 11411 Baseline Rd, Little Rock, AR 72209
Price: $9 for 18 holes; $15.00 for 36 holes.
Review: Again, choosing this course was difficult, the most popular venue in Arkansas was, by a large margin, the mini golf mega-chain Pirate’s Cove that has 25 locations in 14 states. I will eventually be reviewing their flagship location in Traverse City, Michigan, so it doesn’t make much sense for me to visit this one too (that’s like trying to review both Vin Diesel and a cardboard cut-out of Vin Diesel: they aren’t entirely identical, but they look like one another, they have the same acting capabilities, and in your heart you know they’re essentially the same thing).
Instead, I opted for the second most popular, but comparably rated, Big Rock Mini Golf, which I hoped would show me the real Arkansas. Not the overly romanticized Arkansas that you read about in your stories, where the humble, but well-read Wal-Mart greeter falls in love with the haughty, but dashingly handsome Murphy Oil executive. No, I wanted the gritty, salt-of-the-earth Arkansas that produces 46% of the nation’s rice. The Arkansas you can’t imagine in your hopelessly idealistic storybooks.
So, did Big Rock show me the real Arkansas? I don’t know. The course was very nice. It was a spacious 36-hole complex surrounded by beautiful Arkansas evergreens. It had rolling streams and complex water hazards. It was in a pristine condition, the holes themselves weren’t damaged in the slightest. But that, perhaps, was its biggest problem: it felt overly manufactured. The water was a sickly, over-dyed blue. The ropes and boulders scattered around the course were made of plastic, not rope and boulder. There was a teepee in the back, but the course didn’t have any literature about its Native American heritage, so I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to think. In short, it felt like a caricature of Arkansas, not the real thing. And, I guess, this leads me to the real question of this review. What is the real Arkansas? Is it the inexplicable teepee in the back of Big Rock Mini Golf, buried behind a row of majestic evergreens; is it the rusting tractor lying a few feet away from the course; is it the fake rope and rocks and water? Seriously, what is the real Arkansas?
Of course, I cannot answer this question. I’m an outsider. I’ve never calloused my fingers in the harsh Arkansas rice fields that produce 46% of the nation’s rice. Ostensibly, only people who have actually lived in Arkansas would know what the real Arkansas was. So, what did the real Arkansawnians [sic] say about their state? When I asked one of locals to take a picture of me, he asked, without a trace of irony: “why would you want proof you’ve been to Little Rock?”
I didn’t have an answer to that question. But it seemed poetic.
Course Score: 54; no par listed.
Pros: Fantastic upkeep; complex water hazards; good view of the Arkansas evergreens; the course provided drinking water to customers to keep cool.
Cons: Fake rope; fake rocks; fake watermill; fake water.