7/22/16 – Massachusetts

Course: Kimball Farm Mini Golf
Location: 400 Littleton Road, Westford, MA 01886
Price: $12.50 for 18 holes

Kimball actual

Kimball Farm mini golf

Review: With over four locations and a storied 77 year history, you can’t say Massachusetts without saying Kimball Farm.* A family affair (not that kind), Kimball Farm has been continuously owned by 3 generations of Kimballs: starting as a humble ice cream shop in the late 1930’s, the flagship Kimball Farm in Westford, MA still sells Kimball’s world famous ice cream from the original Kimball barn. Which is arguably the third most-sketchy place to sell ice cream, right behind graveyards and windowless vans that play music whenever they’re in the area. But I digress.

As Kimball Farm’s flagship location, Westford’s location was a very impressive, but very strange bundle of contradictions. It had bumper boats. It had chickens and peacocks on a small farm. It had a bright, flashing arcade. It had a rustic, wooden farmhouse with a working waterwheel. It blared top 40 tunes from the speakers. It sold ice cream out of a barn. The whole time I was there, it felt as if a time traveler had taken the equipment from a Dave & Buster’s to the Great Depression, but hid it behind an unassuming mask of mahogany and folksiness so that he alone could bathe in the skeeball tickets that emerged from the maw of his own stolen technological empire (in this hypothetical example, the time traveler is a master thief. And a master lover.) In short, Kimball Farm had a somewhat confusing vibe. More importantly however, it also had mini golf.

Unfortunately, as I pulled into Kimball Farm, it was raining cats and dogs (made almost entirely out of water which, in many ways, was worse). When I was golfing at Disney World, they shut down their mini golf course for 2 hours until a lingering thunderstorm had completely passed, so I was very worried that Kimball Farm would make me wait for hours until the course was safe again. Fortunately, Kimball Farm didn’t really give a shit. Five minutes after a bolt of lightning struck less than half a mile away, I was out on the course ready to play some good old fashioned mini golf!

And boy, was it ever old fashioned! Featuring two golf courses, a waterfall course and a mining course (closed due to flooding from the very recent rainstorm), this course was a slice out of the 1930’s we all know and love.** It had a functioning wooden waterwheel, quaint rope bridges, rusted mining equipment, all while set in the beautiful Massachusetts forests (where, to this day, if you listen closely enough you can still hear the ghost of Ben Franklin kicking himself for chickening out before inventing the trifocals). It also had a butt ton of waterfalls. Just, seriously, beautiful waterfalls up, in, and around the wazoo. Environment-wise, it was a pristine walk though a manmade nature, where even the sounds of your own children couldn’t distract you (because you couldn’t hear them over the roar of thousands upon thousands of waterfalls right in front of your very eyes).

Were there flaws? A few. The course was scuffed in places, and several of the holes in the front 9 were a little simplistic. More disconcertingly however, several of the holes had multiple cups where you could sink your putt. On the same hole!!! That’s like placing two additional basketball hoops on either end of the court. That’s like racing a horse on a horse with two extra legs. This is elite, high profile mini golf, not a participation award at a 5th grade science fair!  All in all, while these downsides to a very near-perfect venue didn’t bring me to the depths of despair, they were still a little disheartening. And, after spending a somewhat wet afternoon at Kimball Farm, I definitely wanted something to cheer me up before I drove all the way up to New Hampshire.

Fortunately, there was a place nearby that sold some pretty great ice cream from the back of a barn.

Other things you can’t say Massachusetts without saying: “Mayflower,” “Boston Tea Party,” “John Kennedy was the best Kennedy,” “we should have had more witch trials,” “Harvard is the Purdue of the East Coast,” “If Elizabeth Warren had a twin sister, I don’t know if they would be friends. Or enemies.”
** And not the one where all those people died in the dust bowl.

Course Score: 43; par – 42.
Pros: Beautiful, 1930s farmland atmosphere; good upkeep; surprisingly good drainage; many pristine water features; very good rustic vibe; peaceful; Waldenesque; 
Cons: 
Several scuffs on the course; the front nine had several simplistic holes; several holes had loose fabric; multiple cups per hole; it was partially flooded, but like, it had just rained for 2 straight hours, so I’m gonna give them this one.

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