Lunar RatingLunar Mini Golf
Lakeland Square Mall,
3800 US Highway 98 N
Lakeland, FL 33809-3833
(863) 859-1830 $8.00 per person ($6.00 children five years and younger). Admission buys 3 rounds.

Space: the final frontier.

These are the voyages of Putt Plug – A Miniature Golf Review Blog. Its mission: to explore strange new mini golf courses, to seek out new themes and innovative gameplay; to boldly putt where no one has ever putt before.

Sadly, our expectations were in the exosphere, while the reality of Lunar Golf was firmly planted on earth. Quel dommage.

IMGP0983Lunar Mini Golf IMGP0958is located in a storefront of the very strange Lakeland Square Mall. It is a relatively new course, open only since May of this year when Steve and Barry’s, the previous tenant, declared bankruptcy. It is comprised of only one large blacklit course, complete with glowing balls, putters, obstacles and a bonus Plinko-style prize hole for the grand finale. With two automatic replays if you so desire, It goes without saying that Lunar Mini Golf is a really good deal, especially if you have the stamina to play even one more round of the same grueling eighteen holes.

It’s obvious that Lunar moved in and set up shop as quickly as possible with only minor concern for covering traces of the previous occupant’s layout. One half of the store looks pretty good, but the other half clearly bears the marks of missing store displays, paint splatters on the carpet (yes, visible even with the lights out), and a messy paint job where the walls meets the ceiling. Surely, the owners of the franchise expected to distract visitors with the outer-space paintings and with the simple inability to see very much under ultraviolet fluorescent bulbs. In the end, however, the state of the room housing the last seven holes makes it seem like the designers had simply checked out.

IMGP0970Even the theming seems a bit rushed and oversimplified – the only references to the cosmos are mediocre neon spacescapes drawn on black corrugated plastic sheets. Seriously, space is one of the very few themes that just makes sense in a blacklit environment and would be easy to execute on a spectacular level (Moon-surface floor? Glow stars on the ceiling? A cohesive programme of interrelated paintings? Appropriate music? OR, the paintings as windows from the space station that you’re in, complete with imitation metallic walls and floors! Come on people!). Imagine how great an intergalactic-themed course could be if treated with the minute attention to detail of, say, Monster Mini Golf. Needless to say we were a bit disappointed by all of the missed opportunities at Lunar. Even the “Deep Space 9” painting and the funny alien at the front who “came to putt” could not redeem our opinion of the theming.

IMGP0981The size of the facility might have also impacted the gameplay as well by IMGP0968affecting the individual green size. In order to fill the store, the greens needed to be longer and more elaborate – entirely too long and overly elaborate if you ask us. We weren’t told the par for the course, but when you see a maximum stroke limit of 8, you know you’re in trouble. The distance between the tee area and hole is quite drawn-out and you must work your ball around several corners and through some obnoxious obstacles – small tunnels, bridges, barriers, ramps and dips. This overly complicated design seems to be common for indoor courses, though. You can forget about getting a hole-in-one at this course, which, for us, takes some of the fun out of the experience. There is no point in trying to figure out how to beat the obstacles here because the holes are not designed for that. In fact, some of the holes are so nonsensical that we wonder if Lunar’s planners have ever played at a more traditional course.

It’s possible that many of our observations are inherent to the opening of a new business. If Lunar Golf is around long enough, maybe they can spruce it up a bit more. But, we don’t really know how solid the future of Lunar Mini Golf is – when we asked a mall employee where it was hidden, she asked if we were sure it was still open. The best thing that Lunar has going for it is the affordable price and lack of nearby competitors. Is that enough to keep it in orbit?

(By the way, if you’re looking for it, it’s near the Dillard’s that sells men’s clothes. Yes, there are two.)

Visit Putt Plug’s Facebook fan page to see more photographs from this course.