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1977 San Diego guide to miniature golf

La Mesa, Kearny Mesa, Escondido, Del Mar, Pacific Beach, College area

The miniature golf courses in the greater San Diego area range from large and well-groomed facilities which look like Disneyland South to abandoned, weed-choked courses that should be the object of a bulldozer’s wrath.

The courses are listed subjectively from best to worst, though the first and second places are a toss-up. All the courses have refreshment stands and game arcades, and some of them have much more.

  • La Mesa Recreation Center
  • 8900 Fletcher Parkway, La Mesa (463-9111)
  • Hours: 9 a.m. to midnight
  • daily; open 24 hours on Friday and Saturday
  • Rates: $1.50 for 18 holes; S2.25 Friday, Saturday, Sunday nights; $1.00 5-6:30 p.m. daily. Discounts for replays, groups, and parties available.

This may be the closest the San Diego area comes to an amusement park. It has five golf courses, 19 trampolines ($1.50 for adults), eight baseball batting cages (50c for 20 pitches), a couple dozen bumper cars ($1.25 per ride), and almost 200 games ranging from pong to traditional pinball.

The rates are considerably higher than those at other courses, and what you’re paying for is atmosphere. The place is crowded, attractive, and relatively secluded. It is in a small valley off FletcherParkway, and for that reason is quiet. The parking lot surrounds four of the courses; the fifth one climbs up one side of the valley. The grounds are well cared for, and there is plenty of grass and lots of trees, fountains, and rivulets. The structures on the courses include a stagecoach, a reproduction of the old mission, Big Ben, a mining camp, and a few giant golf balls. Well-placed and often concealed fixtures provide plenty of light without giving the impression of being under arc lamps. The only drawback is the lines: on weekend nights it looks like the queue for Star Wars.

  • San Diego Recreation Center
  • 6999 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard (560-4211)
  • Hours and rates: Same as for the La Mesa Recreation Center.

It is hard to tell which is better – this or the Fletcher Parkway facility, both owned by the Huish family. This one has three courses, but there is plenty of vacant land which may someday be used for more. What distinguishes these three from all the others, including the five in La Mesa, is that each course has a theme.

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In Western Land we find a small Knott’s Berry Farm; the structures include a livery stable, a gold mine, an assay office, a trading post, and a medicine wagon on which are the words “Dr. R.E. Huish Cure-All Kickapoo Indian Snake Oil.” The second course is Storybook Land and features a 30-foot castle, Mother Hubbard’s shoe, and a lopsided schoolhouse. The newest course is International Golf, which is marked by the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, a pagoda, Eskimo totem poles, and an old mission.

The property here is not the choicest piece of real estate in the city. It is against the 805 freeway and under high-tension wires, but the owners have made the best of it: beneath one tower they have put Boot Hill, complete with gravestones.

Signs indicate that soon there will be a rollerskating rink, but right now the nongolfers have to content themselves with trampolines, baseball practice, and 130 games in the arcade.

  • Escondido Golf Land
  • 830 Dan Way, Escondido (741-3045)
  • Hours: 10 a.m. to midnight daily; closes 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday
  • Rates: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., S1.75; 5 to 7 p.m., $1.25; 7 p.m. till closing, $2.25. Group and replay discounts available.

The only drawback to this park is that it has no grass, no doubt because this is Escondido. But the Astro-turf is passable, and the landscaping is otherwise pleasing. There are three courses surrounding the arcade, which contains 110 games. The courses sport imaginative structures like a western town, a pagoda, a fairyland castle, and a 19th hole feature—get the ball in and win a free game. The place is quiet because it is away from busy streets; it is so far away that it is almost hard to find. The park is walled in with brick and ironwork, and the arcade building is in an attractive Spanish motif. Even on weekdays the place is crowded.

  • Surf and Turf Miniature Golf
  • 15555 Turf Road, Del Mar (481-0363)
  • Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to midnight weekends; arcade closes at 9:30 Rates: $1.00 weekdays, $1.50 weekends. Replay, group, and child discounts available. On Fridays from 7 to 9, buy one and your date gets in free.

This park has two complete courses, two dozen palm trees (some of which are dead and look like giant toothpicks), and no shade. The courses are kept clean—the building is painted, the ground is swept, the benches are not peeling—but the concrete around the holes is mostly unpainted and visually overpowering. There are almost no plants at all and not a blade of grass; there are only great swaths of pebbles, with a few boulders and patches of lava rock for contrast.

One side of the park borders Freeway 5, which means the place is noisy. On the northern edge is a vacant dirt lot, at the far end of which are fenced tennis courts that block the breeze, which means the place is hot.

The small arcade has three dozen games, but they are in good repair and offer respite from the summer heat.

The park does not have an easily visible sign, Get off at the Via de la Valle exit and turn left, aiming for the travel trailer park. Take another left at the first opportunity; you will know you’re on the right road because of the unconscionable number of road bumps designed to slow traffic.

  • Mission Bay Miniature Golf
  • 2702 N. Mission Bay Drive (273-1221)
  • Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
  • Rates: Before 6, 75c; after 6, $1.00; replays 50c.

This is one course of 18 holes, unattractively landscaped with a couple dozen palm trees and with flagrantly distributed lava rocks and elephant-ear plants that border browning grass. There are almost no flowers.

The holes are unimaginative in design and are generally straight. The artificial structures are few and include a lighthouse, a worn replica of the Star of India, and several bridges. At the tees are backless picnic benches, all gray, with peeling paint.

The course is bordered by Mission Bay Drive, the Mission Bay Golf Course, the golf course parking lot, and a small clubhouse and game room, which is more a shed than a room. There are no hedges or trees to cut off the noise from the street or parking lot.

The green felt has worn away on some holes, and idly placed bricks from R.E. Hazard form the obstructions around which the balls must be maneuvered.

On a Sunday afternoon there were only half a dozen players on the course although there was almost no parking available at the crowded Mission Bay picnic grounds, which are just across the street. That is an indication of this course’s decay.

  • Par-Tee Miniature Golf
  • 6255 University Avenue, San Diego (582-4340)
  • Hours: 9 a.m. to midnight Rates: 75c

This course lies along University Avenue and seems to suck in the noise. At its back are seven batting cages which add a little more clatter.

The holes are all of one level, with nothing built up, no depressions, no ponds, no streams. All that breaks the monotony is a white rabbit, a wishing well, and a few other structures. All the holes are green felted with red cement around them. In two game rooms there are 40 games.

  • The Nineteenth Hole
  • 909 Grand, Pacific Beach (274-2000)
  • Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.
  • Rates: Adults 70c; under 15, 50c; replays 35c.

This is an 18-hole course that makes the Mission Bay course look like a successful redevelopment project. If Mission Bay is the “after,” this is the “before.”

The holes are surrounded by unpainted concrete, well chipped. Many of the blocks which serve as obstructions are broken as though struck with a sledgehammer. The grass is unmown, full of weeds, and browning, if not dead. There are almost no bushes; a few palm trees give a little shade.

One long side of the course is on Grand Avenue; the other long side is an alley. There is a small game room with a dozen machines, and behind the game room are a couple of shuffleboard courts long unused, as evidenced by the broken-down truck that sits astride them.

This is the kind of place you go on a date when you have no time, money, imagination, or class.

  • Colina Park Golf Course
  • 4085 52nd Street, San Diego
  • (582-4704)
  • Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Rates: 75c; 50c from 3 to 6; group discounts available. The low scorer in a foursome gets a free game.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon this 18-hole course had no players at all, and with good reason. Some of the structures are falling down; others have spray-painted graffiti on them. The paint is everywhere chipped and worn, and the carpets are mismatched, torn, and even missing.

A concrete pond is completely dry, and its sides are caved in. The tallest structure, an unimaginative pile of concrete vaguely suggesting a mountain, has a plywood board at its base covering a large hole. What is supposed to be an arbor is made of dried palm fronds, ready for the arsonist’s match. The course has ten or 15 palm trees, some only knee-high and one entirely dead. They give no shade.

The grass has entirely succumbed to weeds, and even the weeds are dead. A few of the greens (a misnomer here) have been overgrown, implying that no one has played here in some time. Colina is the pits.

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The miniature golf courses in the greater San Diego area range from large and well-groomed facilities which look like Disneyland South to abandoned, weed-choked courses that should be the object of a bulldozer’s wrath.

The courses are listed subjectively from best to worst, though the first and second places are a toss-up. All the courses have refreshment stands and game arcades, and some of them have much more.

  • La Mesa Recreation Center
  • 8900 Fletcher Parkway, La Mesa (463-9111)
  • Hours: 9 a.m. to midnight
  • daily; open 24 hours on Friday and Saturday
  • Rates: $1.50 for 18 holes; S2.25 Friday, Saturday, Sunday nights; $1.00 5-6:30 p.m. daily. Discounts for replays, groups, and parties available.

This may be the closest the San Diego area comes to an amusement park. It has five golf courses, 19 trampolines ($1.50 for adults), eight baseball batting cages (50c for 20 pitches), a couple dozen bumper cars ($1.25 per ride), and almost 200 games ranging from pong to traditional pinball.

The rates are considerably higher than those at other courses, and what you’re paying for is atmosphere. The place is crowded, attractive, and relatively secluded. It is in a small valley off FletcherParkway, and for that reason is quiet. The parking lot surrounds four of the courses; the fifth one climbs up one side of the valley. The grounds are well cared for, and there is plenty of grass and lots of trees, fountains, and rivulets. The structures on the courses include a stagecoach, a reproduction of the old mission, Big Ben, a mining camp, and a few giant golf balls. Well-placed and often concealed fixtures provide plenty of light without giving the impression of being under arc lamps. The only drawback is the lines: on weekend nights it looks like the queue for Star Wars.

  • San Diego Recreation Center
  • 6999 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard (560-4211)
  • Hours and rates: Same as for the La Mesa Recreation Center.

It is hard to tell which is better – this or the Fletcher Parkway facility, both owned by the Huish family. This one has three courses, but there is plenty of vacant land which may someday be used for more. What distinguishes these three from all the others, including the five in La Mesa, is that each course has a theme.

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In Western Land we find a small Knott’s Berry Farm; the structures include a livery stable, a gold mine, an assay office, a trading post, and a medicine wagon on which are the words “Dr. R.E. Huish Cure-All Kickapoo Indian Snake Oil.” The second course is Storybook Land and features a 30-foot castle, Mother Hubbard’s shoe, and a lopsided schoolhouse. The newest course is International Golf, which is marked by the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, a pagoda, Eskimo totem poles, and an old mission.

The property here is not the choicest piece of real estate in the city. It is against the 805 freeway and under high-tension wires, but the owners have made the best of it: beneath one tower they have put Boot Hill, complete with gravestones.

Signs indicate that soon there will be a rollerskating rink, but right now the nongolfers have to content themselves with trampolines, baseball practice, and 130 games in the arcade.

  • Escondido Golf Land
  • 830 Dan Way, Escondido (741-3045)
  • Hours: 10 a.m. to midnight daily; closes 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday
  • Rates: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., S1.75; 5 to 7 p.m., $1.25; 7 p.m. till closing, $2.25. Group and replay discounts available.

The only drawback to this park is that it has no grass, no doubt because this is Escondido. But the Astro-turf is passable, and the landscaping is otherwise pleasing. There are three courses surrounding the arcade, which contains 110 games. The courses sport imaginative structures like a western town, a pagoda, a fairyland castle, and a 19th hole feature—get the ball in and win a free game. The place is quiet because it is away from busy streets; it is so far away that it is almost hard to find. The park is walled in with brick and ironwork, and the arcade building is in an attractive Spanish motif. Even on weekdays the place is crowded.

  • Surf and Turf Miniature Golf
  • 15555 Turf Road, Del Mar (481-0363)
  • Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to midnight weekends; arcade closes at 9:30 Rates: $1.00 weekdays, $1.50 weekends. Replay, group, and child discounts available. On Fridays from 7 to 9, buy one and your date gets in free.

This park has two complete courses, two dozen palm trees (some of which are dead and look like giant toothpicks), and no shade. The courses are kept clean—the building is painted, the ground is swept, the benches are not peeling—but the concrete around the holes is mostly unpainted and visually overpowering. There are almost no plants at all and not a blade of grass; there are only great swaths of pebbles, with a few boulders and patches of lava rock for contrast.

One side of the park borders Freeway 5, which means the place is noisy. On the northern edge is a vacant dirt lot, at the far end of which are fenced tennis courts that block the breeze, which means the place is hot.

The small arcade has three dozen games, but they are in good repair and offer respite from the summer heat.

The park does not have an easily visible sign, Get off at the Via de la Valle exit and turn left, aiming for the travel trailer park. Take another left at the first opportunity; you will know you’re on the right road because of the unconscionable number of road bumps designed to slow traffic.

  • Mission Bay Miniature Golf
  • 2702 N. Mission Bay Drive (273-1221)
  • Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
  • Rates: Before 6, 75c; after 6, $1.00; replays 50c.

This is one course of 18 holes, unattractively landscaped with a couple dozen palm trees and with flagrantly distributed lava rocks and elephant-ear plants that border browning grass. There are almost no flowers.

The holes are unimaginative in design and are generally straight. The artificial structures are few and include a lighthouse, a worn replica of the Star of India, and several bridges. At the tees are backless picnic benches, all gray, with peeling paint.

The course is bordered by Mission Bay Drive, the Mission Bay Golf Course, the golf course parking lot, and a small clubhouse and game room, which is more a shed than a room. There are no hedges or trees to cut off the noise from the street or parking lot.

The green felt has worn away on some holes, and idly placed bricks from R.E. Hazard form the obstructions around which the balls must be maneuvered.

On a Sunday afternoon there were only half a dozen players on the course although there was almost no parking available at the crowded Mission Bay picnic grounds, which are just across the street. That is an indication of this course’s decay.

  • Par-Tee Miniature Golf
  • 6255 University Avenue, San Diego (582-4340)
  • Hours: 9 a.m. to midnight Rates: 75c

This course lies along University Avenue and seems to suck in the noise. At its back are seven batting cages which add a little more clatter.

The holes are all of one level, with nothing built up, no depressions, no ponds, no streams. All that breaks the monotony is a white rabbit, a wishing well, and a few other structures. All the holes are green felted with red cement around them. In two game rooms there are 40 games.

  • The Nineteenth Hole
  • 909 Grand, Pacific Beach (274-2000)
  • Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.
  • Rates: Adults 70c; under 15, 50c; replays 35c.

This is an 18-hole course that makes the Mission Bay course look like a successful redevelopment project. If Mission Bay is the “after,” this is the “before.”

The holes are surrounded by unpainted concrete, well chipped. Many of the blocks which serve as obstructions are broken as though struck with a sledgehammer. The grass is unmown, full of weeds, and browning, if not dead. There are almost no bushes; a few palm trees give a little shade.

One long side of the course is on Grand Avenue; the other long side is an alley. There is a small game room with a dozen machines, and behind the game room are a couple of shuffleboard courts long unused, as evidenced by the broken-down truck that sits astride them.

This is the kind of place you go on a date when you have no time, money, imagination, or class.

  • Colina Park Golf Course
  • 4085 52nd Street, San Diego
  • (582-4704)
  • Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Rates: 75c; 50c from 3 to 6; group discounts available. The low scorer in a foursome gets a free game.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon this 18-hole course had no players at all, and with good reason. Some of the structures are falling down; others have spray-painted graffiti on them. The paint is everywhere chipped and worn, and the carpets are mismatched, torn, and even missing.

A concrete pond is completely dry, and its sides are caved in. The tallest structure, an unimaginative pile of concrete vaguely suggesting a mountain, has a plywood board at its base covering a large hole. What is supposed to be an arbor is made of dried palm fronds, ready for the arsonist’s match. The course has ten or 15 palm trees, some only knee-high and one entirely dead. They give no shade.

The grass has entirely succumbed to weeds, and even the weeds are dead. A few of the greens (a misnomer here) have been overgrown, implying that no one has played here in some time. Colina is the pits.

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