Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Top Golf, new Thanksgiving sport

Wick's World


Taking the red-eye flight home from Phoenix, Arizona, to the Twin Cities is rarely what one would call exciting, fun or comfortable. Although it is generally inexpensive, the best one can hope for is to quickly fall asleep and remain in that condition for as long as possible. The end of Thanksgiving weekend this year seemed even more difficult than usual to leave family and friends behind in warm, sunny Phoenix and return home to frigid Minnesota. It was more than just the drastic difference in weather that was involved. We had such fun this year being together that no one wanted it to end.

In addition to the normal gathering of family and friends, we feasted on Turkey Day with a new group of in-laws from Oklahoma. One of them included Uncle Bob, who has most of the qualifications to make a top notch shopping mall Santa Claus. His long, snowy white hair and beard complemented his roly-poly body. All he was lacking was a red suit and wire-rimmed glasses. He even has the special personality it takes to patiently listen to children who range from spoiled, greedy little brats to mostly sweet, well-behaved children. Most parents insist their little sweethearts belong in the latter group. I have all this insight into Santa's world because he is currently living in my basement in Eagan. He is the Santa from Colorado who is a long time friend of mine. After spending 13 hours a day talking mostly to humans under the age of 10, he spends an hour unwinding with us before his bedtime.

Another new Thanksgiving experience this year was playing a game called Top Golf. The game is a newly franchised sport that is rapidly spreading around the country exploiting America's love affair with golf. The best way to describe the game is that it is a combination driving range where you score points both for distance and accuracy. Three hundred yards deep, the range contains five separate areas resembling golf greens with a center spot that stands for the hole. The first green is 50 yards away, followed by each succeeding green that extends out to the final green area near the 300-yard mark. You get points for whichever green you land on; the farther away the green, the more points you get. This allows beginners to compete with pros. Even if you can only dribble your golf ball the 50 yards needed to reach the first green, you still get points for it. Incidentally, one in our group shot a hole-in-one. She was the only person who had never golfed before in her life!

The large outdoor golf complex is surrounded by an incredibly tall fence. The purpose of the fence is to contain the driven golf balls that could ostensibly end up in Tucson. The complex is divided into cubicles that contain chairs and tables for cocktails and dining. Each rented spot also has electronic scoreboards that record the distance and accuracy of each player. Best of all, they each contain a large screen television for watching your favorite team play the traditional holiday football games.

At first we hesitated about the decision to spend $35 an hour on entertainment when only two of us in our group had any interest in golf. However, we all realized Thanksgiving wasn’t a holiday when we needed to "cheap out." I began calculating the added on taxes, plus the $210 for the six of us at $35 apiece per hour, and rounded it up to a grand total of about $220 for a game most of us never played, or wanted to.

“That will be $37.40 please,” the cashier stated.

“But there are six of us playing,” I argued. “Shouldn’t that be over 200 bucks?”

“Oh, that $35 an hour includes the rent of the cage, clubs and balls,” she retorted. “People often make that mistake and think they are each paying $35 per hour.”

We later referred to it as our “deal in the desert.” Our bar tab alone quickly outdistanced the $37.40 entry fee. It also outdistanced about every shot I took, but what the heck, we had a great time playing our newest Thanksgiving sport. I can’t wait until next year.


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