While the enraptured crowd watched, I stepped up to the ball and knelt down to read the green. A bump on the right, a ditch on the left and a windmill all factored into the calculations. Taking careful note of wind speed, I addressed the ball and swung the club, releasing the ball on its journey over the bump and up the ramp into the depths of the windmill.
It was with eager anticipation that I set out to explore Golf N’ Stuff, a self-described family fun park that beckons from the south in Ventura. While not exactly the Disneyland of “family fun parks,” Golf N’ Stuff reminded me of the Scandia parks I used to beg my folks to take me to as a kid in NorCal.
On paper (or online), the place looks really cool, offering miniature golf, bumper boats and cars, laser tag, go-kart racing and the requisite arcade games. The Web site even states that it provides the “area’s premier miniature golf experience,” which begs the question whether being the only mini golf course in the area makes you the premier destination.
Unfortunately, when my brother and I arrived, we found the “park” to be well worn, with the appearance of an artifact that was at its peak at the same time as shopping malls and the “The Breakfast Club.” By all appearances it had only been kept from falling apart with little extra effort around the complex. Everywhere we looked we saw chipped paint, sad-looking benches and a “refreshment stand” that could have used some serious refreshment.
In light of all this, I found myself seriously disappointed, even as I walked to the first tee of the mini golf course I found myself disheartened in what must surely be known as the “Happiest Place in Ventura.” However, it wasn’t long until I found my sadness slipping away as I watched in awe when my brother smacked the ball so hard that it went careening off the course and between the two astonished lovebirds in front of us. After chasing the ball down two holes over, I allowed myself to be taken over by the mysticism that is miniature golf in all of its cheesy, happy goodness. By the time we had completed the first of the two 18-hole courses, we had flown through time past a gold mine, a castle, a western town and a lighthouse. I found the overall experience to be pretty fun, and I was impressed by the consistent variety of obstacles on each hole, a qualification by which I measure all golf courses. We had planned to sneak onto the second course (something which I felt I was entitled to after paying an appalling greens fee) but decided against it when presented with a massive line.
We then journeyed over to the raceway where we found seriously underpowered go-karts calmly chugging around the course. Nowhere in sight was the “adrenaline pumping adventure of racing” that I had been promised. However, once we got on the course I found myself enjoying the race, although more because of the “illegal” bumping and jostling for position between my brother and me. But I got bored again as his much more capable car continued to accelerate past me. Tired of doing laps with no competition, I took to attempting to drift around the corners, garnering some disapproving glares from the staff.
Overall, I was seriously underwhelmed by the experience. Though the facility has some bright spots, they are bound by the situation, solely enhanced by your present compatriots. While I didn’t venture to the bumper cars or boats, they appeared to be fairly standard, not to mention the fact that the laser tag was shut down. There was one saving grace in the arcade though, with the presence of one of the greatest games of my childhood: Area 51. With significantly expensive prices and a 40-minute plus drive from I.V., I found myself deciding that one trip to Golf N’ Stuff was just enough for me.