8/27/16 – Alaska

Putters Wild

Location: 1230 E 68th Ave #109, Anchorage, AK 99518
Phone: (907) 764 -7888
Hours: Varies seasonally; visit http://putterswild.com for more accurate information.
Price: 9 holes – $9 (adult); $8 (4-12 years/Military/65+)
18 holes – $12 (adult); $10 (4-12 years/Military/65+)
Replay – $5 (all ages)

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Putters Wild

Review: Wow.

I finally understand why so many truck drivers become serial killers. I mean, what else are you supposed to do during the 42 hours of driving it takes to go one-way from Seattle to Anchorage? Not murder hitchhikers??? Don’t be silly! You see, when I say “42 hours of driving,” I mean actual driving. The time where the vehicle is physically moving. Not the time spent sleeping in the back of a Subaru, thousands of miles away from society in an abandoned (but unimaginably beautiful) wilderness where the sun apparently has better things to do than set. Or heat things up. It’s a good thing my friend Luke was crazy enough to go on this leg of the trip with me, otherwise I would have snapped before I even reached Prince George.* As it is, it still feels like my brain has repressed most of the actual road trip, because all I can remember are snapshots that feel like they’ve been forcefully pulled out of someone else’s life…

I remember driving past thirty black bears in one day and swimming in increasingly frozen lakes as Luke and I made our way across the Yukon. I remember the massive glacier that we explored, jumping over 20-foot-deep icy crevices, wearing only tennis shoes and light windbreakers (because we were woefully unprepared for this trip). I remember hesitantly asking “…is Canada a better country than America?” as we drove past the Alaskan border only to find that America’s roads were in an infinitely worse condition (and, more importantly, how the road signs were riddled with bullet holes). I remember how we laughed for a solid five minutes after I asked that question (because of how misguided it was). But most importantly of all, I also remember the state’s best mini golf course. Which is good because that’s the reason we drove all the way out to Anchorage in the first place.

Located in the heart of sunny Anchorage, AK (although “heart” is a generous term since Anchorage, as a city, is as lazily sprawled out as a corpse in a community theater production of And Then There Were None) you’ll find Putter’s Wild – Anchorage’s premier indoor black light miniature golf course. And, given that Alaska’s winter is, in layman’s terms, “an unforgiving, frozen, dystopian hellscape that puts Dante’s Inferno to shame”** it makes sense that this course was located indoors. But even though it was kind of small, it was a pretty neat venue. Featuring two blacklit 9-hole courses (“Pacific” and “Polar”), Putters Wild was the first 3d mini golf course I’d ever (3d) seen. And, I’ve got to admit, playing mini golf with a complimentary pair of 3d glasses attached to your face made the whole experience way cooler. It was like watching James Cameron’s Avatar, but without all the blatant references to oil unobtainium that made Cameron’s film the overnight sensation that we all watched once in 2009 and then never talked about again.

As for the venue’s actual specifics, its Alaska-themed paintings/props were as detailed and impressive in 2d as they were in 3d; it had several holes with unique obstacles/complex machinery; and its pristine upkeep was almost as amazing as the international strength of the American dollar (WE WERE MILLIONAIRES IN CANADA!!!). But, overall, Putters Wild was still pretty simplistic; it was small and mostly flat. And the fact you were playing in darkness made it difficult to gauge the thickness/speed of the carpet (which varied for different holes). I mean, come on. This is pro mini golf, not the carpet swatch section at the Home Depot. However, at the end of the day, although it was not a truly incredible course, Putters Wild was a pretty great way to spend an hour in the most-populous city of the Last Frontier. But still, after driving all the way from Washington to Alaska, I really needed a drink. Fortunately, I knew this great little mini-golf-themed bar only 42 driving-hours south of Anchorage.

Thanks for the memories, AK.

A city that, as we all know, is the self-proclaimed “Capital of Northern British Columbia.” Which is a stupid nickname, because it’s located only halfway up B.C. Prince George is still a full 15 driving-hours  away from even the Yukon border. Let alone Alaska. I now know what old-timey sailors meant when they talked about “a hard day’s journey.” Man was not meant to travel that far of a distance in one day. It changes a person. Irrevocably.
** Conversely, the only thing that puts Dan Brown’s Inferno to shame is Dan Brown’s Inferno.

Course Score: Pacific Course: Luke – 24, Dan – 27; par – 25. Polar Course: Luke – 26, Dan – 31; par 25.
Pros: Fantastic upkeep; clearly loved by owners; great theme/design; 3d glasses were awesome; several unique props/complex ball-transporting machines;
Cons: Small; the holes were mostly simplistic; in the dark, it was hard to gauge the thickness of the carpet/speed of the ball; located in Alaska.

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