Author’s note: The following post will not tell you where to find the nation’s best mini golf course. Sorry. This entry is really more of a “what did I learn from this trip” type thing. Clearly, not everyone enjoys reading stuff like that… so if you’re not interested in reading several paragraphs full of emotional catharsis, please feel free to skip to the best course in the nation right here. See y’all on the flip side!
We always knew this was going to be a bit of a cop out. Honestly, how can anyone definitively say that something is the “best”? It’s all too darn subjective. Especially when you only spend a day or two in every state, and just a few hours at its highest-rated mini golf course (a course, mind you, which has been selected entirely based off of Google, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Facebook reviews). Moreover, I’m sure that, when many of you see which course I’ve chosen as the “nation’s best,” you will immediately break into convulsions of rage before sending me hundreds of anonymous emails with the subject line “who do you think you are?” To all those irate reviewers out there, I apologize. But even though, like the United States Constitution (or the lyrics to the Black Eyed Peas’ “My Humps”), this guide is an inherently flawed document… I still have to make a decision. It’s too late to back out now. Far too late. So, during the past few days, I have read and reread every review I wrote over the course of my 78-day-adventure (right now, this guide is fast approaching 40,000 words, which is probably more than anything I have ever written in my entire life).
And I think I made a pretty good selection.
Besides, all things considered, my choice could have been a lot worse. Throughout this trip, I traveled 20,681 miles across America. And for about a third of those driving-hours, I was dead set on doing one of those godawful “the best mini golf course was inside of us the whole time” things. In my severely sleep-deprived mind, I could think of nothing better than to say something grating like “mini golf is all about coming together. It’s about friendship. It’s about watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives with Connor at three in the morning, it’s about playing piano with Maddy and her family, eating Chicago deep dish pizza with Adam, going to an American Ninja Warrior gym with Sam, swimming in the Yukon with Luke, drinking Seattle coffee with Byron, exploring a rose garden with Carey, playing Super Smash Bros. with Evan. It’s about best friends coming together and sharing their time. It’s about love.”
But, right as I was about to write that unbearably schmaltzy paragraph, I remembered what I wrote at the very beginning of this trip, nearly three months ago:
Why am I doing something this monumentally (for lack of a better word) stupid? Is this “travel guide” just an excuse for me to explore our monumentally big nation? Is it a way to examine both America and Americana in a cultural moment when our nation is politically and ideologically fractured? Will it ultimately devolve into a self-indulgent narrative that I’ll unsuccessfully try to reframe as an “empowering” coming-of-age story? Is this the trip where I finally find love?
In response to all of these questions, my answer is a resounding no.
It’s all about the mini golf.
Despite my best efforts, the answer to many of those rhetorical questions ultimately turned out to be “yes.” I did see America. I did experience things I couldn’t dream of in a million years. I did grow as a person. I did find (or at least reaffirm) the love of my friends.
But that does not mean that I didn’t find the best mini golf course in the nation.
Because I did.
Before I go, I just wanted to say thanks. Thanks for indulging me; it’s been a wild and crazy ride and I’m glad you chose to go on it with me. But enough chit-chat. It’s time to stop stalling. You’re not hear to read the nostalgic ramblings of a wannabe Rick Steves. You’re all here for one thing and one thing alone. America’s best mini golf course. The king of kings. The shrine of purity to which every other inferior mini golf course aspires to be.