Course: Holy Terror Mini Golf
Location: 609 Hwy 16A, Keystone, South Dakota 57751
Price: $9 for 18 holes
Review: I recognize that this may be a somewhat divisive statement, but I like Mount Rushmore. Sure, it’s a small, gaudy, artificial mountain, originally built in the middle of nowhere as a money-making tourist trap. But, like the Statue of Liberty or that abandoned field where we hide Thomas Jefferson’s bones for all the local schoolchildren to find on Easter Sunday, it has become an iconic “American” landmark. You can’t discuss the United States without mentioning Mount Rushmore.* It is a monumentally important monument.
And speaking of Mount Rushmore, located only five minutes away in sunny Keystone, SD (an inexplicably bustling resort town) is Holy Terror Mini Golf, lovingly nestled between South Dakota’s beautiful evergreens and its 7000 competing zipline companies. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, this course wasn’t very outstanding. Sure, it had a pretty fun rustic water tower/waterwheel vibe, but as opposed to the two other waterwheel courses I’ve been to on this trip, it didn’t offer anything else to the discerning mini golf enthusiast. It wasn’t even holy! Or terrifying! Honestly, I haven’t seen something this poorly labeled since I purchased “chicken of the sea” (I just wanted to eat some really salty, waterlogged chicken in a can. Not the poorly named swill they tricked me into buying).
Now, I suppose I could compliment how this course guided golfers up a steep, scenic hill so that they could get a good glimpse of the surrounding Keystone environment. But, in building their course with such a steep incline, many of their holes were frustratingly, ungolfably sloped. Some holes had a 45 degree slope. That’s way too much slope! The only thing that should be 45 degrees on a mini golf course is a cool, refreshing Miller High Life (the champagne of beers ©). Not the venue itself. Moreover, many of the holes were both simple and strangely slanted (so that the hole itself was almost impossible to sink). In short, just like a late night text from your ex or a puzzle box filled with live bees, on the surface Holy Terror looked really cool, but in reality it was a stressful mass of unforeseen, unpredictable dangers.
Concluding this review on a broader and (foolishly misguided) more serious note, it would be all too easy to suggest that, like Mount Rushmore, the only reason we know (or care) about mini golf is because it is exceptionally culturally significant. We’re really only aware of the sport because it reminds us, collectively, of something greater than the sum of its miniaturized parts; not because it’s a great game. So, just as Mount Rushmore celebrates our shared national identity by reminding us of the sacrifices and the triumphs of America’s greatest leaders** (even though it is, at its core, a lackluster tourist trap), mini golf celebrates our own humanity by reminding us collectively of childhood, family, and first love.
Obviously, that is a dumb argument. Mini golf is sweet and so is Mount Rushmore. That’s why we care about them so much: we destroyed a mountain to put the faces of our presidents on it; we took a very boring sport and miniaturized into the perfect skill-based competition of will and valour. And while, lamentably, America only has one Mount Rushmore*** it has an almost impossibly large amount of mini golf. Sure, Holy Terror didn’t blow me away. But I still have 11 states left to find the best course in the nation.
I wonder if it’s in Wyoming.
* Or the fact that Uncle Sam has both grey hair and a smokin’ summer ready beach bod. How old is he?????
** Real question, why is Teddy on there? He’s waaay less important than those other three. George and TJ built the nation. And Abe emancipated 13% of its population. The only thing Teddy did was prevent us from turning Yellowstone into the world’s largest Burger King.
*** For now…
Course Score: 46; no par.
Pros: Scenic views; fine rustic aesthetic; carpet was in good condition; convenient to Mount Rushmore.
Cons: Holes were not level; very steep slopes; mostly simple holes; lower budget than many other courses on this trip; minimal props; unremarkable.