Lunar Mini GolfWhere the players play

Clark Ennis has played a lot of golf. Three years on the Ames High team and years of practice have given the junior plenty of time to hone his skills. So when a novice like me challenged him to a round of golf, he probably thought it was a joke. When I told him to meet me at the mall, he knew it was. Little did he know our tee time was made at Lunar Mini Golf, the newest addition to North Grand Mall. Lunar Mini Golf features glow-in-the-dark balls, clubs, and holes under a sky of ceiling tiles and black lights. After only two weeks of operation, it has earned a reputation as one of the top miniature golf courses in Ames. The environment was the perfect place for me to take down Ennis. Lunar Mini Golf, Inc. director of operations Ed Christoffersen has called Lunar Golf “the great equalizer” because talented daylight golfers are not always as skilled in the “cosmic” setting. Removed from his natural environment, Ennis would be vulnerable. This theory played out perfectly through hole one. As my opponent’s eyes were still adjusting to the lighting, my neon orange golf ball scooted past the smiley-faced obstacle, bounced off the wall, and settled in the bottom of the cup. Hole-in-one. At this point, a less poised competitor would have turned to Ennis and hollered, “Ya done, son,” or, “You’re on the ground!” With seventeen holes left to play, though, I knew it was too soon to celebrate. It did not take long for Ennis to respond. Using an unorthodox cross-hand grip, he earned his first hole-in-one on hole three, and repeated the feat on the fifth. I countered with one of my own on the following hole, but my first shot on hole seven went awry. Sensing the chance to take momentum, Ennis calmly knocked his shot in. With a commanding four-stroke lead, he turned to me, pounded his chest, and taunted, “Wassup?” It was difficult to carry on after such a devastating blow. The course proved increasingly difficult as the round wore on. The inclines became steeper, the obstacles more bizarre. If I had any hopes of winning, something needed to change quickly. Finally, Ennis’ consistent play faltered on seventeen. His first shot stopped at the base of a steep incline. Seeing his precarious situation, I knew this was my chance to strike. After much deliberation, I fired my shot. With just the right amount of force, I was able to settle the ball atop the hill, right next to the hole. I tapped in my next shot, but it took Ennis six more to finish. I picked up another stroke on the final hole, leaving the outcome uncertain. Final tally: Ennis 40, Bird 43. The agony of defeat was only compounded by my failure to conquer the “Prize Hole,” but I took solace in the fact that Ennis failed as well. Former AHS student and current Lunar Mini Golf employee Carter Slagell told me I had lost to a “pretty good” player in Ennis, but that “there have been a few very good people in here.” Though I did not ask him to analyze my own game, he probably would have said that I am somewhere between an ’ight player and a pretty good player. Clark Ennis, moral victories are not enough to satisfy my competitive appetite. Enjoy the off-season, but I will be practicing for next time. Intramural Lunar Mini Golf Championships, here I come.