Sunday, January 10, 2016

Not dark: glow-in-the-dark

I found a New Thing, a really new, New Thing. Sure, it was in the dark, but it was right under our noses, here in Anchorage for five years, and I didn’t even know it was there. What a discovery!

My friend, Jinnie, and her husband, David, invited us to glow-in-the-dark miniature golf. I’ve done neon bowling, but miniature golf was new. I was ready. Six of us were ready. Well, as ready as you can be when you have to weave around industrial buildings to get to the right spot, and you’re sure you’re lost, but then it’s there: Putters Wild. Hidden treasure!

It seemed a little confusing at first: why were there 3-D glasses at the sign-in desk? Oh, it’s indoor, blacklight, 3-D miniature golf! Oh, this is getting interesting. We have to pick out two color balls and decide whether we’ll do the Pacific course first or the Polar 9 holes. We start with Pacific.

Yikes, it’s black – except for the glowing walls, fish scenes, underwater-looking sculpture things. The rims bordering the holes are glowing, seeming like they’re elevated in the air. You’re positive you can roll your ball under them, but it’s all an illusion. It is all so disorienting, you love it.

Picture this: six adults – sort of lost in the dark – bumping into things. Realizing the walls are soft canvas, painted with spectacular 3-D underwater scenes, but that the next time we stumble into them, we might fall through. Putting things down and not knowing where you put them.

And six adults, all of whom have a different understanding of the “rules” of miniature golf: one closest to the hole putts second, one furthest from the hole putts second, putt until your ball goes in, putt in order, keep the same order for each hole, change based on how you did on the last hole. But you’re all in the dark, bumbling into bumpers and incredibly disoriented by the dark and the illumination and the 3-D. And someone has to see in the dark to keep score.

Tim has an orange ball. It looks like it’s floating in the air. Julie can’t figure out how he ever hits it. I feel like someone has put a sack over my head and is steering me from adventure to adventure.

And then we get to Humpback Hoop-Dee-Do, and the ball whirls around and shoots out. I try to take a photo, but I can’t use flash and it’s very dark, and it all glows and so you can’t even imagine how you’ll translate this into painting without blacklight.
At Beluga Bend (but I can’t be sure because I’m keeping notes in the dark), the ball goes in a hole, up an elevator, and then down a glowing path whirling all around before it lands on the green.
And Jinnie says she loves miniature golf so much that just as I’d crossed the country visiting waterparks, she wants to cross the country visiting putt-putts (which I think is a regional thing; what did you call them where you grew up?) And we reach the end of the Front 9 and the joke-telling hole takes our first balls while Tim sticks his head in the Killer Capture. It was that kind of night.

And afterwards, we talk to the new owner, who says, “No, this place has been here for five years.” And you can’t believe it because you’re in your Third Third, ready to relocate from Anchorage because there’s nothing new under the sun here and you always thought of yourself as the kind of person who could sniff out anything that was fun. And look, here was something incredibly fun and you didn’t even know about it!

Something fresh and new – and disorienting and goofy – and suddenly you light up with freshness and newness and having the friends to enjoy it with and you think “what else is out there?”


  1. If only we had known of your interest, we would have recruited you to help us do the artists' miniature golf Out North was trying to put together! It never got off the ground and it would have worked? Who knows. But yes, this sounds like the type of thing I would even give a go!

    1. I think I was actually involved in the thinking about that. I did create the first corporate golf tournament for the Daily News ... in the mini-golf at the Castle on O'Malley (fittingly, it benefited Childcare Connection).


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