Cave City, Kentucky
Courtisy Road Side America.com

In today’s franchised brand character-choked mini-golf industry, it’s refreshing to see someone attempt a relatively unique theme. And what better brand recognition than God’s own time-tested characters and stories, available for not a dime of trademark licensing?

22 Jesus et al_ copyGolgotha Fun Park is ideally situated — an offbeat diversion near Mammoth Cave National Park, with appeal to both Christian family vacationers and the unconverted. According to an entrance sign, it is America’s #1 Shaded Biblical Mini-Golf. Other bible-themed courses have been reported in Lexington, KY; Myrtle Beach, SC; and Nashville, TN.

But Golgotha is alive and well since it opened in 1992, perched atop a shady, pebbled Calvary hill on Highway 70, part of the Cave City tourism Mecca (hey…how come no one ever builds an Islamic Jihad Mini-Golf?).

Three white crosses loom near the parking lot and mark the final hole; to get there, determined players putt their way through the hazards and miracles of the Good Book. After renting a club and ball in the gift shop, eager Golgotha fans line up at hole #1, The Book of Genesis. The first nine holes are inspired by the Old Testament: Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Moses parting the Red Sea, Daniel and the Lion. A sign at each hole helpfully spells out the relevant Biblical passage.

Obstacles are standard mini-golf course tunnels, twists, and chutes. We’re amused that the scenes are comprised of repurposed lawn ornaments and cement statuettes — no priest-folk artist spent his life carving here. Jonah sits in the Whale’s mouth, comfortable in shorts; a statue of St. Francis monitors porcelain animal pairs boarding the Ark. Old Testament stories make for better hazards, so the first nine holes are easy to identify without reading the signs.

The New Testament holes are sparsely decorated, looser, at least one featuring elves and men in lederhosen where an Apostle or leper might have done the trick. As the holes cut back and forth across the hill, the game accelerates. The end is in sight — Golgotha, “The Place of Skulls,” where Jesus was crucified. An uphill challenge past the crosses finishes at the Lord’s ascension up to Heaven.

While in the gift shop returning your club and ball, look for the Bible Mini-golf T-shirt with a pair of skulls on the back. And there is life after Resurrection: Golgotha features a Go-Cart course and paintball skirmish zone.

Latest Report: September 2002: Reported closed and in a state of gradual deterioration. July 2001: Reports from visitors suggest Golgotha is up for sale. It has “inconsistent” hours for now, so don’t plan your whole vacation around this place.

(Golgotha Fun Park: I-65 to Cave City/Hwy. 70 west, 1.5 miles on the right. Seasonal hours, like most outdoor attractions in Cave City. )