The poet Frank O’Hara wrote, “I can’t even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there’s a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life. It’s more important to confirm the least sincere. The clouds get enough attention as it is.” So, though I share neither O’Hara’s impulse to ignore those beautiful clouds in the sky, nor his genius, I too will pen an ode to the least sincere, to a land of turquoise dyed water, artificial grass, and terra cotta-colored boulders manufactured out of plaster. This is a love song to Pirate’s Cove Mini Golf in South Yarmouth.
Pirate’s Cove is the most over-the-top putt putt destination that I know of on the Cape. Featuring several waterfalls, sunken pirate ships, caves, and two 18 hole mini golf courses, it is pure kitsch and tons of fun. It was tremendously busy when I was there, but, thankfully, there wasn’t too much standing around time. When I did find myself waiting for my turn at the tee, I put my energies to good use by studying the mistakes and successes of the putt putt players ahead of me. As we all proceeded around the course, clustered in our individual groups, we got to know each other. We began sharing tips on where to steer the ball. We cheered for each other’s successes and made camaraderie-fueled grimaces when faced with each other’s failures.
While playing (badly), I surveyed the scene – here we all were, crammed onto a small bit of land, surrounded by parking lots and Route 28, yelling at our brightly colored golf balls (which rarely seemed to obey our intentions), listening to bad music, in a highly manufactured landscape, saturated with phony pirate lore, yet everyone from age 2 to age 82 seemed to be having a wonderful time. There was laughing, smiling, some bouts of pouting, and then some more laughing. We were all collectively at play. Though the experience is about as unique to Cape Cod as frozen fish sticks, sometimes the authentic local experience is not what’s called for. Sometimes it’s best to embrace the synthetic, get silly, and let the brightly colored golf ball roll wherever it sees fit.
Pirate’s Cove is located on 778 Main Street in South Yarmouth and is open from mid April to the end of October. A round of golf will set an adult back about $8 and children play for a dollar less than that.