By Вen Li
Not since my trip to the Space Needle have I been so flustered with getting a dented ball of twine into eighteen different plastic cups. A shoulder injury and a heavily-breathing rabid thunderbird (or was it just the wind?) conspired against me, but we had fun nonetheless.
Being cut into the side of a hill has advantages for a mini golf course. Besides not being paved over with an interchange, Paskapoo Greens makes the most of the terrain with water features, interesting drops and hidden slopes, unlike so many other flat-land ’60s courses that rely on animated gimmicks and strange loops instead of good design.
Paskapoo is definitely quite conservative compared to the greens at Calaway Park, Wonderland or the many now-defunct shopping mall pizzeria courses.
Strategically landscaped greens and round, egg-like projections too often turn what looks like a par three into a six.
The pro, Don Scott, frequently advised us to bank or feather the ball off the feature to the left to achieve an overall right turn. I wanted to simply chip or drive past the deceptively innocent-looking rocks on a couple of holes, but alas, children and puppies suggested otherwise.
For playability, this course puts the lousy links in West Edmonton Mall to shame–except for the lack of shoppers and other unpredictable hazards. Traditional bunkers and water hazards are replaced by detritus and other entropy, which Don does his best to caringly remove.
Obstacles can be a challenge going up the hill on the front nine, especially when staring directly into the sun. Fast greens on the way down can make for an exciting but dangerous game. Don explained that the greens change from year to year due to the shifting earth beneath the hill, so continuous course maintenance and upgrades are a must at Paskapoo. This year, the main upgrade is a new gazebo but plans are in the works for further course expansion to the south.
Removing some of the barriers on the green edges would produce some interesting lies and discourage players such as myself from overpowering the ball. Maybe we will see such a feature if they decide to add another nine.
It is unfortunate, however, that immediately after conquering the 18th hole, Lawrence Bailey was unexpectedly incapacitated by ball lightning as so often happens in Calgary. Final score: BL +21, LB +9.