I have a list in my head of things that I'd like to complete or achieve on the Isle of Wight. Walking every footpath on the Island is one of them - there are about 500 miles, so it's not completely unrealistic over the space of several months or years <insert Proclaimers reference here>.
A less ambitious challenge is to complete a round of golf at every minigolf course on the Island. That's not quite up there with completing a triathlon or discovering a new treatment for a disease, but it's a more achievable task for a parent of young children.
Over the last few years we've putted our way round: the Needles, Puckpool, Sandham Gardens (the old minigolf course and the new one), Tapnell Farm and Rylstone Gardens. In Shanklin, we completed the old seafront course and its replacement (Jurassic Bay). We also did the old course Shanklin Seafront course with the aeroplane which has been replaced with Caddyshack.
Up until this week, the ones we hadn't completed were the pirate themed one on Shanklin seafront, the Aztec course on Sandown Pier, the course with the dragon at Calbourne Mill and Caddyshack in Shanklin. I think there are some basic courses on some of the Isle of Wight's holiday parks and there's probably one in the back of someone's garden but I'm excluding those.
This week we ticked off the pirate course, which had previously been too scary for the younger member of our party. It is hardly going to make it into a Mark Kermode series on BBC Four about horror movies, but there are a few skull and crossbones to contend with.
We have a simple handicap system for minigolf which involves each player adding on their age at the end of the game. It was bad news for my mother when she joined us one time, but otherwise it allows you to fudge the score so you can say that one of the children won even though you know in your heart that they most definitely didn't.
When we played, the course cost us £24 for a family of four and it filled just over an hour. That makes it a relatively pricey activity compared to some other minigolf courses on the Isle of Wight but the seaside location makes it worthwhile. You can save a bit by getting a joint ticket for the dinosaur course next door and completing it within a week (£40 for a joint family ticket when we visited in 2021).
The holes have a good selection of banks to curve the ball round and tunnels to putt through. I personally prefer very complex and difficult minigolf courses but this one is more family-friendly. It was child one's first attempt at minigolf without my assistance and I fear we would still be there if the holes had been too complicated.
The best bit for me is the cave with the waterfall splashing overhead but the whole thing is well designed and decorated.
The final score card was grim reading for me - a round of 61 and not a single hole in one.
Rather crushingly, Mrs Guru beat me by three points, thanks in part to a hole in one which deflected off a four year old's foot ("it was going in anyway" she declared with a straight face).
Child two also beat me by several points thanks to the handicap system, but it was worth accepting that defeat to maintain the peace.
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