The story of a girl, her family and the miniature golf course they owned.
Miniature golf—or “putt-putt,” depending on where you’re playing—is one of those activities that can be hard to pigeonhole. It’s not quite a sport, per se, but it does have a professional association (the USPMGA, of course)—i.e., more than a game but not quite at the same level as bowling. Without a doubt, though, it is a family pastime, a place to take children on the weekend—until your family buys a miniature golf course, and then it’s your job. At age 10, Melby found herself thrilled to hear her father ask if they’d like to buy Tom Thumb Miniature Golf in Waupaca, Wisconsin. As is the case with many such amusement places, it’s one thing to visit them for a round of putt-putt; it’s another thing entirely to be personally involved with the upkeep of the course, the management of the customers (who don’t always recognize where the course ends and the owner’s personal residence begins), and the birds with their nests and their offspring and their cavalier approach to waste management. Melby has written for National Lampoon and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, which is a good indicator of the approach she takes in this witty memoir. Starting with a dryly cautionary few pages advising readers to never go to Wisconsin, each chapter is dedicated to a hole on the course. As the family goes from stumbling new entrepreneurs, the former owner having left no useful instructions, to fairly successful small-business owners, Melby and her siblings grow up.
The ending of the book—the kids grown, the parents’ move to sell the course—leaves a wistful feeling, but like mini-golf itself, the story is a lot of fun and enjoyable to navigate.