I spent about 20 minutes taking pictures at the Goofy Golf – octopus, dinosaur, Easter Island head (he was my favorite, and also apparently an institution at any Florida minigolf that is not a chain establishment. Only in Florida do we have franchised minigolf.) and the gamut of the sorts of things you would expect to find at a minigolf establishment along Florida’s coast.
Panama City Beach offers untold riches of chintzy touristana. They did it first, and they did it best. Before them there was only gator wrestling and mermaids. Come on Florida, you can do better than that!, Panama City Beach must have said.
Unlike the newer, glitzy flavors of chintzy tourism, the shalmtzy flavor syrups that drizzle throughout the city are more traditional ones: wooden roller coasters, Ripley’s and a more authentic version of International Drive. The gimmicks here hatched I-Drive; the extreme and the overdone cut its teeth on Panama City Beach’s gritty fluffy sugar sand before corrupting our state’s chewy center.
Goofy Golf remains. Established in 1959, it stands in tropical shades of purple, gold and lame´. You do not feed live gators here (as you may at some of the chains); you do not see a plane crashing into a faux mountain. You are surrounded by high rises and planned shopping experiences; nothing is left to chance. The beach, glittering aquamarine against fluffy buff sand, is down there, if you care to look.
It is tourism for tourism’s sake, and the technicolor icons of the minigolf course sum up this pastel tourist life.