Rolling over the naturally hilly landscape, the bright-green turf of Statler’s Fun Center’s miniature-golf course winds around the center’s 1,528-foot go-kart track. Engines roar as racers 10 or older zip through the over-and-under bridge’s tight turns or give their lead foot free rein on the straightaways.
The soundtrack of purring motors underscores high-stakes games of miniature golf as players putt their way through deviously landscaped greens, expertly maneuvering the cave with a hidden waterfall and defeating the final hole guarded by squatting gophers. An air-conditioned snack shop provides respite from summer heat with cool drinks and an arcade full of excuses to hang out indoors, such as the classic air-hockey table and skee-ball.
Totaling a little more than 2,500 yards laid end to end, the nine holes that constitute Maple Crest Golf Course's rolling hills challenge players to exhibit deft control in order to master its relatively short layout. Big hitters who can keep the ball in play enjoy wide, open fairways, but overzealous strokes may fly out of bounds or enter into orbit, forcing a difficult re-entry through the atmosphere and onto the 5,000-square-foot greens. The par 3 sixth hole forces players to hit their tee shot into a narrow opening above a ravine, and the par 5 ninth hole—the course’s longest at 464 yards—protects its multitiered green with trees and uphill lies.
Course at a Glance:
Eighteen-hole, par 68 course
Total length of more than 5,000 yards from the back tees
Set on the rolling wooded banks of the Youghiogheny River, Butler's Golf Course has been challenging golfers for more than 80 years with two 18-hole courses. The 6,314-yard Woodside course cushions golf shoes in a gently rolling terrain, and the 6,689-yard Lakeside course grants sweeping views of the adjacent valley and a few blind shots. Both par 72 courses can be enjoyed from the seat of a conveniently motorized golf cart, which transports golfers and their gear between holes, around scattered hillocks, and across the line in tense photo finishes.
Named for the sunny yellow birdsfoot trefoil flowers strewn throughout the course—sprouted from seeds that fell off hay wagons rumbling through years ago on the fields of the former Buffalo Creek Farms—the championship golf course at Birdsfoot Golf Club enchants golfers with rolling hills and country charm. The links-style front nine give way to a back nine whose fairways open over hills, inviting golfers to pull out their drivers and whack dimpled orbs with the club-swinging gusto usually reserved for cracking eggs into an omelet pan. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette highlights the course’s 465-yard third hole as one of the 18 best public holes in western Pennsylvania, citing its mounded fairway, which doglegs left and challenges putts with a downhill, sloped green. As carts zoom from one hole to the next, they traverse a path where bogeyman faces carved by a local artist peer from tree trunks. When players finish their rounds, they can unwind in a clubhouse where ghosts from its former life as a farmhouse offer advice on covertly changing scorecard results.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par 72 course
Length of 7,034 yards
Course rating of 74.4
Slope rating of 137
See an interactive course tour
Designed by Mark Ormison in 1897, the fairways of Bob O'Connor Golf Course at Schenley Park sprawl over 51 acres and invite linksmen to frolic among foliage that has been flourishing for more than a century, while also gazing out on metropolitan views. Players find themselves challenged right from the get-go with a second hole that is also the toughest, but can strive for birdies at holes 8 and 17 to recover. At the 11th hole, golfers encounter a quirky rectangular green, whose geometric origins are likely found in a house having occupied the space long ago. The course is managed by the local charity The First Tee Pittsburgh, which strives to encourage good character, values, and healthy life choices in children through the game of golf, and proceeds from the course benefit its programs.
Before hitting the course, players can hone their form at the course’s driving range in good weather, take lessons with a Class A PGA professional, or strengthen their swings at the Full Swing simulator, which tracks ball flight, speed, and distance in real time. The simulator offers high-definition projections of more than 35 notable courses, including Pebble Beach, Oakmont Country Club, Pinehurst Country Club, and Harbour Town Golf Links, and lets golfers sharpen their swings in the dead of winter without fear of losing a limb to frostbite or abominable ground squirrels.
Course at a Glance:
A sprawling, 32-acre sports metropolis set on the Ohio River’s Neville Island, RMU Island Sports Center’s multipurpose facilities encompass activities from ice-skating to miniature golf. An indoor, 42-tee driving range throughout most of the day, the 100-yard field and domed, 75-foot high ceilings of the Golf and Sports Dome house baseball, softball, kickball, and flag football events by night before hosting after-hours singles parties for terrestrial blue whales. Adjacent to the dome, clients can execute graceful pirouettes or high-speed slap shots at the skating rink, which offers hockey leagues and lessons, figure skating programs, and public skate sessions. To fully immerse themselves in the Center’s scenic location, guests can catch riverside breezes at the RMU Island Rapids Miniature Golf Course, where golfers must contend with subtle slopes, two waterfalls, and heckling barnacles as they steer orbs through the immaculate 18-hole putters park.