Course: Castles ~n~ Coasters
Location: 9445 N Metro Pkwy E, Phoenix, AZ 85051
Price: $7.99 for 18 holes
Review: Oh man, this is it! Arizona! After two and a half months I finally made it! Ari-friggin’-zona: the last continental United State left on my itinerary! And, considering the three traffic accidents I nearly got into on my way to Phoenix, in a more realistic sense, it also could have been (quite literally) the last continental United State I ever visited. I mean, it’s crazy I didn’t get into a single car accident on this trip, right? Like, playing-a-violin-while-Rome-burns crazy! I never even got into a fender bender. Or “accidentally” crashed my car through the wall of my ex-girlfriend’s house and then been all like “whoa, Beth? Kooky coincidence seeing you here, amiright? Oh, this is your home? I had no idea!! Haha. So… what are you doing this Friday? Did you know they came out with another Thor movie???” I don’t know quite where I’m going with this train of thought. Just, it’s sobering. I’ll never truly know how lucky I was to survive this journey in one piece… like a bomb disposal technician with acute short term memory loss, during this trip I never quite realized just how much I was playing with fire.
And speaking of fire, wow is Arizona hot. So. Darn. Hot. I bet the flames of hell have a wall poster of Arizona hanging in their dorm room, emblazoned with the motivational phrase “Don’t just dream of being as hot as Arizona. Be as hot as Arizona.” But if you have the superior will power to kick down your front door, raise your middle finger directly at the sun’s stupid face, and then make your way down to “Arizona’s Finest Family Fun and Thrill Park operating since 1976”™… you’re in for a treat. Not only does the Phoenix-based Castles ~n~ Coasters offer a wide variety of roller coasters, thrill rides, and arcade games, more importantly, it has a lot of mini golf. 72 holes. With four 18-hole courses* that increase progressively in difficulty, this is one of the largest mini golf venues I’ve encountered yet.** Set in the midst of Arizona’s distinctive environment of palm trees/succulent cactus plants, Castles ~n~ Coasters didn’t necessarily have a very clear theme (it featured, among other things, Buddhist pagodas, gingerbread houses, western mining communities, eerily haunted mansions, statues of Poseidon, and Native American settlements to name a few), but, strangely, that didn’t really bother me. This course was just so impossibly massive that limiting it to one theme would have been far too overwhelming (sure, we all love small doses of Josh Gad, but can you imagine a world chock-full of Gad? I can… but it sure has a whole lot of Arizona posters hanging on the walls of its dorm rooms).
In addition, the course’s impressive variety of long, complex holes, its pristine water features, and its close proximity to two of Arizona’s most extreme roller coasters (the “Patriot” and the “Desert Storm”) were greatly appreciated. But still, it was by no means a perfect course. Who knows, maybe Castles ~n~ Coasters was simply too big to properly maintain, but I found myself noting that this course had more than its fair share of scuffs, worn down surfaces, and holes that were practically covered with stray twigs and leaves. Moreover, many of the venue’s holes were sloped in, which (as we all know) is something that makes me irrationally angry. But most importantly, as I’ve already mentioned, Arizona is really, really hot. And this course didn’t really have that many shaded areas or mist machines to cool off customers. It was like trying to scale a glacier without a winter jacket. Or being sober in the DMV. With just a few small adjustments, this course could easily have made a tough environment a little more bearable. In the end though, these are all pretty small quibbles. And I should wrap things up because, like the course it’s trying to evaluate, this review is getting far too big for its own good. And when all’s said and done, for the most part Castles ~n~ Coasters was a very impressive, polished, and enjoyable venue.
But I’m ready to go home.
I’m tired. Obviously not, like, “Rip Van Winkle with a debilitating NyQuil addiction” tired. I’m just a little punch-drunk. Honestly, who’d have thunk driving to every state in America would tucker a fellow out so darn much? I feel like every muscle in my body has been gnawed on by that one girl in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory who chewed gum all the time until she turned into a giant blueberry because of her hubris or something (I don’t know, I wasn’t really paying attention). But even though, right now there’s nothing more I’d like to do than go home, take a twelve-hour-long shower, and then curl up under the covers of my bed for years until a virulent strain of lichen begins to engulf with the same intensity as Ms. Pac-Man at a cherry convention… I can’t. Not yet. Because I’m not done yet. I still have one more course to review. Just one more course. Then (and only then) can I finally kick back, relax, and find what my parents have long described to me as a, quote-unquote, “job that actually pays money.”
However, fortunately for me, this last course… it’s a pretty good course to end on.
* Because, you know, that’s how math works.
** Except, of course, for the 5-course Pirates Cove in Wisconsin Dells which is a damning shrine to the inherent excesses of humanity.
Course Score: Dan – 49, Jeff – 55, Greg – 59; par – 52.
Pros: Incredibly huge venue; the courses have differentiated difficulty levels; several very long/decently complex holes; very high production values; many fun props/decorations.
Cons: Unbearably hot; a decent amount of scuffs/worn down “grass”/twigs and leaves on the course; mass-produced feel; many holes sloped in to make scoring easier.