It’s not uncommon to stumble upon fake alligators as you make your way around a mini-golf course. But at Smugglers Cove's locations, live American alligators snap their jaws in exhibits nestled amid the miniature fairways. With an old-fashioned bamboo pole players can dangle a treat above 20–50 of the predatory alligators, which leap from the water to snatch their treat. Between feeding frenzies, games take place on Smugglers Cove’s 18-hole outdoor courses, where balls roll past rushing waterfalls, into caves, over mountainous terrain, and into a hole in a pirate ship.
Saturn 5’s intergalactic theme seeps into every corner of its 20,000-square-foot fun center, which encompasses an 18-hole mini-golf course illuminated by black lights, a laser-tag arena, a 400-square-foot bouncy obstacle course, an arcade with more than 70 games, and a billiards room. The indoor mini-golf course takes after its fresh-air counterparts with diminutive greens and obstacles, but it replaces the sun with black lights that illuminate holes lined in green, red, and blue. A rainbow of hues also embellishes the behemoth bounce house, where kids careen down slides and scramble around cushy pillars to get to meshed-in areas for jumping.
At the arcade, the perimeter of an air-hockey table glows a space-age green, and retro pinball machines exude a vintage air akin to the black-and-white makeup worn by ‘50s-era TV stars. In the billiards room, a 40-inch TV and an 80-inch projection screen are emblazoned with the day's games, which can be watched atop bar stools with snacks, beer, and wine from the concession bar.
A round of miniature golf on Ace’s tropical-themed course, complete with waterfalls, streams, ponds, and lush Floridian vegetation, fills afternoons with fairway fun for friends and family (children ages four to 10 are admitted for $4.99, and kids under four get free admission). PGA pros and sand-trap stragglers will enjoy the upscale practice range, with covered swinging areas to protect golfers from weather, as well as stadium lighting for nighttime play and elaborate Field of Dreams fantasies. For harder hitting, baseball batters and softball sluggers step into batting cages, where professional pitching machines can vary speeds from lightning-bolt throws to lackadaisical lobs.
Shielded from the elements, customers at Glowgolf traverse the course’s 18 holes of indoor miniature golf amid an extraterrestrial neon glow. Vivid murals of jungle and underwater scenes adorn the course’s walls, with giraffes, zebras, and otherworldly creatures serenely coexisting. The course itself brims with potted plants and decorative treasure chests along with traditional mini-golf obstacles such as loop-the-loop ramps and water traps filled with live sharks.
Featuring more than 6,000 yards of immaculately manicured landscapes, The Claw at USF is a par-71 course that challenges club clenchers with narrow fairways lined by towering trunks of oak, cypress, and pine. The USF men's golf team and USF women's golf team call The Claw home, sharing it bunk-bed style with a population of alligators, deer, and spoonbills. Prepare for your 18 holes of terrain domination by taking to the grass-tee driving range ($5 for small bucket) or navigate your clubs to the putting and chipping green, where you can practice your precision stroke and pendulum swing.