8/3/16 – Wisconsin

Vitense Golfland

5501 Schroeder Rd, Madison, WI 53711
Phone: (608) 271-1411
Hours: 8 am-10:30 pm (Sunday-Thursday); 8 am-11pm (Friday & Saturday)
Price: 18 holes – $8.50 (Adult); $7.00 (Over 60/Under 12); $3 (4 & under)
36 holes – $10.50 (Adult); $9.00 (Over 60/Under 12); $5 (4 & under)
54 holes – $12.50 (Adult); $11.00 (Over 60/Under 12); $6 (4 & under)

Vitense pic

Adam and I visit Vitense Golfland

Review: Oof. Choosing which Wisconsin course to review was very difficult. From the get-go, I really, really wanted to visit Vitense Golfland. But, whenever I discussed this project with someone who was actually from Wisconsin,* they always gave me the same four pieces of advice:

  1. You gotta go to Wisconsin Dells!
  2. You gotta go to Wisconsin Dells!
  3. Wisconsin tops the nation in dairy production. It takes approximately ten pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese. And it takes approximately 340-350 udder squirts to produce a gallon of milk.
  4. You gotta go to Wisconsin Dells!

Apparently, according to all of these real Wisconsinites, Wisconsin Dells has some of the best mini golf courses in the nation. By a large margin. And why would I ignore the advice of true Wisconsin natives? I’m just an uninformed outsider who has only done a meager several hundred hours of extensive research on regional mini golf and the more general history that contextualizes it in a broader cultural perspective. What do I know?

So I went to the Dells.

Meh. Their Pirate’s Cove was pretty impressive,** but other than that, unlike that vacuum cleaner I kissed once for a dare (and many times later for fun), Wisconsin Dells didn’t take my breath away. So, after driving four hours out of my way to play a sub-par par 43 in the Dells, my friend Adam and I made our way to Vitense Golfland to play some real mini golf.

And it was totally worth it. Vitense brought out my inner child faster than the doctors who pumped my stomach when I ate that American Girl Doll on a dare. Not only was the mini golf here devilishly complicated (the holes were lengthy, multi-obstacle adventures through a complex plastic zoo of brightly colored animals and foliage), but the course was wildly interactive. On many of the two-story-high holes, you didn’t have to walk down the stairs – you could use a slide! That’s one of the coolest things you can do with your butt! As a venue, Vitense Golfland truly was the unholy hybrid of an elementary school playground and a mini golf course. There were tunnels to crawl through, climbing walls to scale, mini monorails to ride, and all sorts of other playground essentials crammed into this 3-course venue. Plus, the river that flowed through the center of the venue was one of the riskiest water hazards I’ve ever seen (right behind that piece of wood Rose pushed Jack off of so that she could keep the Heart of the Ocean all to herself***)

And yes, the course was a little scuffed. And yes, one of the mist machines was broken. And yes, there was some water damage. And yes, at times the course layout felt more cramped and crowded than the classrooms of an underfunded public school. But it was one of the most unique, interactive, and joyfully giddy courses I’ve ever visited. If mini golf is supposed to make you feel like a child, Vitense Golfland went one step further and just, literally, turned you into a child. It was great. The best course in Wisconsin.

So, to all the irate Wisconsinites who will, all too soon, see that I’ve ignored three of their four pieces of advice****: you can keep your hoity toity Wisconsin Dells.

I’m going to Golfland.

Not those jerks who only pretend to be from Wisconsin so that they have an excuse not to go boating with you and your dad’s best friend, Malcolm.
** It had an unprecedented FIVE 18-hole courses. I’ve harped on Pirate’s Cove for being mass-produced, but if you’re in the Dells, it’s definitely the place to be. (For more info on Pirate’s Cove, please refer to Michigan’s entry where I review the nation’s first-ever Pirate’s Cove location in Traverse City).
*** Or something like that. Titanic was over three hours long… a lot happened and I have a very short attention span.
**** You can never know too much about dairy.

Course Score: Adam – 58, Dan – 69; Par – 66.
Pros: Inventive; childlike; interactive props; fun/bright colored plastic animals; multi-obstacle holes; unique; complex water hazards; better than the Dells.
A few scuffs; cramped; some water damage; some graffiti; some of the paint was a bit chipped; broken mist machine/malfunctioning water wheel.

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