OKALOOSA COUNTY – Wearing a back cap, a baseball t-shirt and a Levi's pennant, Daily News reporter Tom McLaughlin lost confidence in him as he approached the supposedly "the most difficult hole" of Goofy Golf.
The blue ramp ahead showed a hungry Pac-Man in pursuit of Blinky. Pac-Man scoring the meal, however, seemed more likely than McLaughlin getting a hole in one shot.
Golfers puttts of the Emerald Coast – spoiled by a treasure of course – can feel his pain. These are the most difficult holes in the region: access ramps, fixed obstacles, bad rebounds, difficult hazards and impossible angles, according to the course managers.
The Daily News sent six journalists to attack the toughest putt-putt holes in northwestern Florida.
Snowbird or local, proceed at your own risk.
Wild Willy Adventure Area
1306 Miracle Strip Pkwy S.E., Fort Walton Beach
To get to hole 10, it is difficult to climb Mount Chachimbiro among prehistoric species.
It is said that it is more likely that animatronic dinosaurs only animate for a player to have a hole in one shot. Education journalist Alicia Adams was ready to take up the challenge, immediately designing a tactical plan.
Dinosaurs are damned.
The hole is on two levels. Players must hit the ball in the first hole on the top level, which falls into a pipe leading to a second green. The only obstacles on the way to the first shot are a corrugated fairway and a sandbox on the left.
Alicia, however, overestimated the length of the hole and hit the ball a bit too hard. He bounced back, leaving him a long birdie putt.
This time, she opted for a soft approach. His birdie attempt slid slowly, bouncing off the back wall and once again shy of the hole.
Alicia changed her game plan to limit the damage.
Three more shots and the ball was in it. Final score: 5, double bogey.
Destiny Laser Tag and Black Light Mini Golf
20011 Pkwy from the Emerald Coast, Destiny
Hole # 18 on the black light mini golf course is known as a graveyard for broken and abandoned golf clubs left by frustrated players.
It is said that only one person per year claims a hole at once. Having the right to boast for life for those who perform the almost impossible task just does not seem to be enough.
Nathan Cobb with Walton Sun was the unfortunate soul assigned to hole 18.
He first attacked at hole # 10, also considered one of the toughest holes. He shot that goal and went to number 18.
He never thought it would be so ruthless.
The putting surface was lit only by the faint glow of paint that reflected the black lights. A traffic cone, barely visible at the start, is the first obstacle placed in the center.
Pass the cone and you will find yourself facing three ramps, each narrowing as they approach the top of the structure.
Hit the ball too hard and it goes down to the cone. Hit him too lightly, he comes back too.
Nathan knew both.
The rules of the course indicate that after six strokes, the players are supposed to stop. Employees say it is at that point that many will scream in frustration, leaving their clubs behind them as they come out of the building.
Not Nathan. After the first run, which consisted of hitting his golf ball in frustration, he asked for a mulligan for the hole.
Nathan's second pass was much more successful. Nathan quickly learned that a short, sweet shot was the key.
Slowly but surely, we succeed? If you ask Nathan, he will definitely win a game of mini-golf.
In the end, a double boguey did not sound too shabby. No clubs have been left, at least this time.
The Destin track
1125 US-98, Destiny
Seth Stringer, sports editor, immediately began to lobby.
Seth is no stranger to a green, boasting of being good with a putter.
The course before him was simple in its design, but complex in its execution.
To the right of the starting point was a big rough back blocking a straight path to the ace. The only hope for a player to make a hole at once is to sneak right up a steep hill, several obstacles threatening to bounce the ball into oblivion.
If the players avoid obstacles and the ball rolls in the hill at the right angle, it will roll straight east to the ace.
Seth watched in admiration as a young boy approached to bury the hole with a casual flush.
Seth tried to replicate the boy's technique by putting the ball straight up the hill. He avoided all obstructions, but Seth's ball had its own idea. He veered too far to the right, avoiding the one-inch hole and bouncing directly onto the brick-bound exterior of the course.
The ball nearly fell straight into the rough back, but by a force of nature – only explainable by Voodoo magic – she returned to the green.
What would have been a knee shield for anyone else was nothing for Seth, who had buried the little bird with a snap.
Black Forest Rain Light Golf & Arcade
11394 US-98, Unit D, Miramar Beach
Public Safety Reporter Kaylin Parker went into the dimly lit rainforest to try out the infernal hole # 15 of the Blacklight Course.
Surrounded by Tiki statues and a monkey or more, Kaylin quickly decided how she would mark a hole in one go.
The owner says that the proper way to manage the route is to go directly to a bridge. Take, you can ask?
It would not be mini golf if the deck was not decorated with several obstacles likely to make it bounce the ball.
Kaylin used his momentum to his advantage and catapulted the ball through the bridge. He stopped right at the edge of the hole.
Unfortunately, Kaylin's ball was not as consistent with his second shot. His goal was in focus, but the ball bounced off the hole at the last second.
Kaylin did the par.
Destin Golf Gardens
12958 US-98, Miramar Beach
It would be a euphemism to say that hole # 15 of the Golf Gardens putt-putt course is "intimidating".
Scary? Threatening? In Oxford English Dictionary, no word seems to give the class the respect, the fear it deserves.
The size of the green, causing one to wonder why one even calls it mini golf, is a beast in itself.
Who better to approach number 15 with a positive attitude than the jovial and optimistic military journalist Jim Thompson? The answer is simple, nobody.
Jim was all smiles as he approached the hole, even though he could not even see the green. He should show instinct, which told him to throw the ball directly to the wall in front of him, hoping that she would bounce back to where the hole might be.
Jim's ball bounced as he hoped, leading to three rock pillars that created a natural crossroads.
Jim was forced to make a decision that will change the game.
Right or left? True or false? Jim always does what he needs "well," and that's what he did.
From a hard blow to the right of the rocky barricades, Jim's ball headed straight toward the long green toward the hole.
The ball glided effortlessly, but turned quickly after hitting a rock outside the course.
Jim completed the most challenging course with an eagle.
401 Eglin Pkwy NE, Fort Walton Beach
It's time to take a look at Tom, who has just launched a line to the open and inviting mouth of Pac-Man.
Tom's ball slid snugly onto the blue ramp, flirting with the ace before taking a sharp right turn to the northwest.
Tom's worst fear for the match came true: the balloon was lodged against the wall. The birdie that he hoped was no longer within his reach.
A vanquished Tom took his second shot, then third. At each shot, the ball seemed to turn away from the hole at the last minute.
At the fourth shot, Tom was determined to make it his last. He slowly stomped his feet, looked at the blow and … it was in it.