Since the summer of 2007, my family has been vacationing on the 18-mile, Long Beach Island off of exit 63 on the Garden State Parkway at the Jersey Shore. Since that time, I have spent at least one all the way to nine glorious weeks on this stretch of the Jersey Shore. From my very first time on the island until now, the time I spend there always refreshes my soul and it is my favorite home away from home. It was also the place Cody asked me to be his wife 🙂
Three summers ago, I spent a month on the island working at Harvey Cedars Bible Conference and with the help of several of my beach friends, I crossed off my first LBI bucket list item: biking the entire 36-mile round trip to the southern tip of Holgate all the way north to Barnegat Light and back again returning back to the conference center.
This summer, Cody and I took on another challenge: to play all of the mini-golf holes on the island. Surprisingly, in the last decade of vacationing on the island, I only had played at a few of the 10 mini-golf places. We were excited to find our favorite and participate in one of our favorite hobbies together! During our date night on Wednesday, Cody and I set out the terms of our challenge:
- We bike to every place.
- We play every hole.
- We rank each mini-golf place on our self-created scale to determine our favorite place (categories included ambiance, friendliness of the staff, creativity, difficulty, etc.)
- We determine the ultimate LBI mini-golf champ based on the scores of five categories (1 pt.-Most Hole-in-Ones, 1 pt.-Lowest Overall Score, 1 pt.-Best out of 10, 1 pt.-Best in Tournament, 1 pt.-Lowest Below Par)
Course #1&2: Mr. Tee’s. (See above) At Mr. Tees we played in our first mini-golf tournament and we were not disappointed. After slaying the first 9 holes, I choked on the second 9 but still enjoyed the competition and meeting some other avid LBI mini-golfers. (We will definitely be participating in a tournament again next year!). After the tournament round, we played the shorter holes behind the tournament course completing the first 36 holes of golf.
Course #3: Mr Tee’s 36 Hole Course. (See below) At our second stop, we were joined by my mom and Josh to play the 36-hole course in the hot noon-day sun. I loved the small size of each hole (except for the longest mini-golf hole which ran a narrow stretch along the side of the ground’s maintenance building) and did very well. Cody on the other hand, was not too pleased with his performance, and when his bike pedal broke off as we were leaving, he had to walk to the next course while we waited for a different bike. This definitely did not help!
Course #4: The Sand Trap. (See right) We quickly breezed through this course (having played it just a few nights prior for Cody’s birthday) and I came out on top, putting me at 3-1 for courses, much to both of our surprise.
Course # 5: Island Golf. (See below) Making it past the causeway (that marks the half-way point up the island) we stopped at Island Mini-Golf and the tides began to turn, both in Cody’s playing and his enjoyment of the day.
Course #6: Sandbar Golf. We thought we had reached the furthest mini-golf stop on the north side of the island when we played at Island Golf, but discovered we were wrong when talking with an employee there. Just a few blocks away lay Sandbar Golf, unadvertised online, which would have caused us to fail our entire mission! Thankfully we made it to this hidden course, and I enjoyed the fact that each hole was dedicated to and given the namesake of a different section of LBI. (See below)
Course # 7: Flamingo Golf. (See below) At this mini-golf course, Cody and I racked up lots of holes-in-ones. The groundskeeper here prided himself in the upkeep and precision of each holes’ contraptions. We loved that if you scored it in the windmill’s bucket or hit right into the “nitro-blaster-thing” your ball would roll into the hole every time! This man also gave us the best ball selection; I played with an emoji and Cody with a golf version of an 8 ball. (See right) No wonder this is the favorite of LBI mini-golf enthusiast, Ray Romano.
(Side Note: You may have noticed that I changed my shirt. This day was a scorcher and Cody and I had to stop for iced coffee and lemonade before running to the Surf City 5 & 10 to buy a tee-shirt with sleeves so that I would not continue to get fried).
Course #8: Hartland Golf. (See below). On our way back down the island, we stopped at Hartland Golf just a few blocks south of the causeway. Here Cody and I tied and we remained at 4-4 in course wins, were even on hole-in-ones, and within 10 points of each other overall. This course was also memorable because after telling the employee about our journey, he gave us free soda pop tickets and an old tournament trophy (that has the wrong date and says 4th place, but we were delighted!)
After Hartland, Cody and I biked over seven miles against the ocean breeze back home for dinner (Now it was my turn to be grumpy, 5 month pregnant legs were not thrilled and I now understand why it’s better to be the goose flying in the back of the V). I constantly had Cody go in front of me to face the brunt of the wind. After dinner, we were back out to our most familiar mini-golf hotspot for the last two courses.
Courses # 9 &10: Thundering Surf. (See above) We finished up our day with the Waterfall and Cave CourseS at Thundering Surf in Bay Village. The holes are the most popular, yet most difficult and haphazard on the island (to my demise). Cody, completely decked out in golf attire, garnished many the odd-look and stare, but came out glaringly on top in our competition. He ended up with all five points and secured the title Island Mini-Golf Champion, after I had put up a good fight all day long.
Our day, which began at 9 am finally ended at 11pm, but we were successful at playing all 198 holes of mini-golf on Long Beach Island!! It was a day on my precious stretch of shoreline that I will never forget. And despite both of us having our moments, whether from near heat-exhaustion or the competition of the day, I’m so glad to have a partner in this life that’s as quirky and up for this kind of silly-fun! It was a day for the Long Beach island memory books!