Course: Village Greens Golf, Inc.
Location: 1444 Village Rd, Strasburg, PA
Price: $9.25 for 23-hole gold course; 7.25 for 18-hole orange course.
Review: After visiting a soul-crushing number of mass-produced ocean resort towns,* I decided to stray off beaten path for a while and drive through Lancaster County, the home of America’s oldest Amish settlement. And, like all good Amish settlements, Lancaster felt like it had been torn right out of the year 1857, complete with cows, cabbages, and a worn-out church sign that just said the word “PRAY” and nothing else. And, while this sign almost sidetracked me with its very tempting offer, I hadn’t visited Pennsylvania to take in the sights. No. I was there for a much more important reason: Village Greens – a family owned 13-acre mini golf course that had been voted the #1 mini golf course in Lancaster County for the past five years. So, after spending ten unbearably frustrating minutes driving behind a bearded Amish man in a horse-drawn buggy,** I finally arrived at Village Greens, flushed with excitement (and lingering fear, having previously spent the night in a motel straight out of the movie Psycho, complete with a frighteningly eccentric owner, pouring rain, and doors that didn’t have locks on them).
Like many of the mini golf venues I’ve already visited on this trip, Village Greens had two courses: an 18-hole “orange” course that had rustic farmland props, complex holes, and moving obstacles. And a 23-hole “world famous gold” course that wound through an untamed wilderness and had some of the most interesting holes I had seen yet. Hiding the hunger in my eyes, I casually entered the course two minutes after it opened and purchased a ticket for the gold course, coyly mumbling to the cashier “world famous? Oh, that looks like fun” as if I hadn’t already spent hours researching this course with the same intensity that a serial arsonist researches cheap gasoline.
But wow. All my intense research could not have prepared me for Village Greens. For the first time on my journey, I actually felt like I was outside (the place where bears live!). While putting, Village Green’s patrons were expected to cross rickety wooden bridges, scale small mountains, and navigate through thick forests (just like bears!). All the while traversing long, difficult holes (one of which featured a 20 foot jump into a pipe that led down another 30 feet drop to the actual hole). And these holes actually were long. Longer than Ulysses. Longer than a drum solo in a freeform jazz concert. So long that you could have called the clubhouse and ordered a smoothie, and it would have been melted by the time you returned (that’s actually true; see pictures below). In addition, unlike every other course I’ve ever been to, if you lost a ball in the roaring river that flowed through Village Greens, there wasn’t a way to get it back. That ball was lost. Really lost. Village Greens actually placed buckets full of spare balls around the course just in case the worst should happen. Which was good because I actually lost two balls while playing, causing me to swear like a sailor who had only been taught the swear words “dang” and “ah man, I just lost another ball!”
But the fact that Village Greens trusted you, the fact that a commercially lucrative miniature golf course actually used the honor system for both golf balls and bottled water (see picture below) was staggering. I’ve never been trusted that much. And, hopefully, I never will again (that much freedom gives a man some awfully strange ideas). It more than made up for the fact that the course was a little dirty in places. Moreover, the fact that I scored a hole-in-one on the final hole, netting me a ticket for a free game of mini golf the next time I visit Village Greens (see picture above)*** just sweetened the pot even further (and the pot was already pretty sweet by then, imagine a Dutch Oven made out of caramel). All in all, Village Greens might not actually be “world famous,” but with all of its beauty, elegance, and trustworthiness, maybe it should be.
* Two of them.
** Who must have be astonished and startled to see all these newfangled, sacrilegious automobiles crowding the streets and impatiently honking their anachronistic, what do you call them again? Oh right… horns.
*** Does anyone want a ticket for a free game of mini golf?
Course Score: 80; Par – 74.
Pros: Nature: pure and unadulterated; challenging holes; beautiful; beautiful flowers planted around the course; expansive; they trusted you.
Cons: Some water damage; ferns growing on the course, but properly regulating a course this size seems impossible