Course: Newby’s 7N Ranch Resort Mini Golf
Location: 45 N Newby Lane, Ririe, ID 83443
Price: $6 for 18 holes
Review: Life is all about making difficult choices. Paper or plastic? Miley Cyrus or Hannah Montana? The Wall Street Journal or Buzzfeed’s “15 Hotties Incriminated by Benghazi” listicle? And, like life, professional mini golf reviewing is also rife with hard choices. In particular, I found it very difficult to choose which Idaho course to review. The smart man* would go with the state’s clearly most popular venue: Wahooz Family Fun Zone located in scenic, sunny Meridian. But, after a brief Google Image Search (read: three hours) I soon realized that, just like a photoshopped and non-photoshopped image of Dwayne Johnson’s flawless jawline, Wahooz was virtually indistinguishable from the courses I’ve already reviewed within both Colorado and Utah. It even had the same mass-produced fire-shooting tiki statue that I have come to know and resent. And honestly, if I’m trying to find the best mini golf course in America, I shouldn’t be reviewing the same course three times. That wouldn’t be fair to you. And more importantly, that wouldn’t be fair to me.
So instead, I opted to review the state’s second-highest-rated course, Newby’s 7N Ranch Resort in Ririe, Idaho. Not only is Newby’s 7N an acclaimed 3-star ranch resort which, like that one hill behind the high school where the cool kids would smoke clove cigarettes and talk about underage drinking and proper condom application, is a wildly popular outdoor getaway destination. But more importantly, Newby’s is the only course in the nation that lies within spitting distance of Yellowstone National Park. And I was excited to visit a venue where, at any moment, the ground might erupt with all the water that Old Faithful is simply too small and weak to properly expunge.
Now, all things considered, Newby’s was a pretty low budget course. But it still had its fair share of fun, unique strengths. As one would expect from a mini golf course adjacent to America’s first national park, Newby’s was very one-with-nature. Separated from the rest of society by several miles of winding dirt roads, this venue was more isolated than the unholy hybrid of a desert island and America’s foreign policy at the beginning of World War II. In addition, the course’s expansive/relaxing natural atmosphere, its untamed forest of local foliage, its authentic rustic props**, fun water features, and extremely affordable entry fee made Newby’s 7N much more unique and enjoyable than Wahooz could ever hope to be.
That being said, however, Newby’s was by no means a perfect course. It was, overall, a very flat and simplistic 18 holes with a carpet that was more worn down/faded than it probably should have been. But, even more pressingly, several of its unique rustic props were practically nonfunctional – its homemade loop-de-loop (made out of a truck tire!) was as impractical as a geyser that only erupts for thirty seconds once every two hours.*** And the functionality of its several pipe systems/bridges was, like the narrator in a Nobokov novel, unreliable. But despite all of these flaws, at the end of the day if you’re driving to Yellowstone, or if you’re inexplicably in the Ririe neighborhood, there are few better ways to kill an hour than by playing mini golf at Newby’s 7N.
* The smart man would also never drive all the way to Alaska. Or forget to bring a winter jacket and a working cell phone. But that’s a story for a later day…
** Like horseshoes and a repurposed playground slide that transported your ball down multiple levels. Look out, butts – slides aren’t just for sitting anymore!
*** Old Faithful did not blow me away.
Course Score: 48; par – 37
Pros: Rustic; scenic location; “outdoorsy” props; cheap; expansive; surrounded by beautiful nature/flowers; multi-leveled; several fun water features; relaxing; well worth the entry fee.
Cons: Simplistic; several nonfunctional props; worn down/scuffed; some areas with loose carpeting; primarily flat.