Saturday, August 20, 2022

Goofy Golf, Panama City, June 1964

I have a pair of fun vintage slides featuring Goofy Golf in Panama City, Florida, circa 1964! This place looks like the ultimate in miniature golfing, with a level of fun and creativity that has rarely been surpassed. And hey, it's still operating today!

Check out this photo, with a massive Easter Island Moai gazing calmly into the parking lot. Notice the people on top of his head!  To our right is a ferocious dinosaur of unknown species. Goofy Golf opened in 1959, thanks to a man with a vision - Lee Koplin. 

From the Roadside America website: Lee advertised Goofy Golf as "A World of Magic." It definitely looks otherworldly, showcasing a menagerie of wildly painted, thematically discombobulated giant figures built to grab attention from passing cars. There are ancient monuments and space age icons, with a few monsters and aliens tossed in. You can crawl inside a Chinese dragon or stick your arm out the nose of a Easter Island Tiki head. All of Goofy Golf's biggest characters have colored light bulbs for eyes, and they glow at night.

More from "Roadside America": ...most of Lee's Goofy Golf artwork is interactive, challenging players to putt through or around or into them. The two 18-hole courses were built with mechanized hazards: a snapping alligator, a monkey with a ball-swatting tail, a dinosaur using another monkey as a yo-yo. Golfers have to hike through a subterranean black light cave between holes 7 and 8, skewing their vision with hot pink and green UV stalactites. What a place! I'm so glad that Goofy Golf is still around for people to enjoy after more than 60 years.


JB said...

Wow. Now THIS is a miniature golf course! It's everything a 'real' golf course isn't; namely, FUN! Real golf has never interested me, but I've always loved mini golf.

In the first pic, I guess the theme of this place is "anything that's eye-catching". Other than that, there isn't anything that binds them together. And it definitely succeeds in the eye-catching category! I love that Moai. Lots of artistic ability and engineering went into this course. I think that "dinosaur of unknown species" is a Hollywoodosaurus.

In the second pic, it looks like there's a brontosaurus poking his long neck into the right edge of the photo. That must be the Chinese dragon below the brontosaur. And a rather large koi/carp fish to the left of the dragon.
Next to the main gate, that must be the (giant) monkey with the ball-swatting tail.

Thanks for the cool Goofy Golf pics, Major!

Nanook said...

This place looks like fun-! (And why haven't I heard of it-?) Is the Skyride part of the park-?

So, for the car ID's... That's a 1963 Chevrolet Impala, and a 1959 Pontiac Star Chief - probably in 'Shoreline Gold'-!

In the next image we start off with a 1961 Ford Fairlane station wagon; a 1961 Oldsmobile - possible in 'Glacier Blue'; a 1952 Dodge station wagon - probably in 'Nassau Beige'; and I think next to the gent wearing the white tee shirt is a 1962 Chevrolet Biscayne. Peeking-in from the left is a a 1960-1963 Ford Falcon. On the right, closest to us is a 1963 Cadillac; above the Ford station wagon is a 1964 Rambler - perhaps in 'Woodside Green Metallic'; and finally, to its left is a 1963 Buick.

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

I'm glad to hear that this place is still standing. I just had to take a look to see if it was TRE'd. Surprisingly, everything in these pics appears to still be standing, with the exception of the two Skyride routes. I wonder where that one route with the visible gondola lead to? It looks like there is a parking lot across the street from the Goofy Golf, and then the beach is just beyond that. There is a long pier sticking out into the ocean. Could the Skyride have taken people to the end of the pier?

Here's a current view from the highway. JB, that brontosaurus is still there today, but now it is purple!,-85.8299548,3a,54.9y,6.56h,91.69t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sb9ezL657F30nrZakK_SseQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

K. Martinez said...

I believe the Sky Ride in the backdrop was part of the Miracle Strip Amusement Park which was also in Panama City. That park closed in the 2000's.

Miracle Strip was fun, but I don't remember Goofy Golf nearby.

Nice pics, Major. Thanks!

Andrew said...

TokyoMagic, the Skyride was a round trip and took riders east, towards the famous Miracle Strip Amusement Park, as Ken mentioned. This video includes a map of its route as well as footage of one of the abandoned stations that stands today. It is complete with buckets left to rot... pretty impressive considering it closed in 1975! That station was on the other side of the Miracle Strip parking lot, so it wasn't really part of the park.

There was only one Skyride route. The lone visible bucket in this picture is just crossing some telephone wires at the same point in the image.

I was surprised to see the Skyride photobombing the second picture, but I love the Goofy Golf statues too! They remind me of Ocean City, MD.

K. Martinez said...

This video states "Magic World Sky Ride", but it's all the same area. I guess I combined it with my visit to Miracle Strip in my mind. Petticoat Junction was also in Panama City, Florida.

K. Martinez said...

After reading Andrew's comments, I now think I'm combining my memories of Daytona Beach's Broadwalk Amusement Park with Panama City's Miracle Strip Amusement Park. Back in the late 1970's I visited those types of places in when I lived in Florida for the summer of 1978. My 40+ year memories are fading, just like my visits to WDW back in the day.

JG said...

This place looks amazing, Major!

I’ve always enjoyed miniature golf. There was a course in Redding where we took the kids many years ago when they were tiny. But nothing like this.

I’m sad we can’t see the dinosaur with the monkey yo-yo, inspired lunacy!

Thanks for the car info, Nanook, and apparently there are no amusement parks in America that Andrew and Ken can’t winkle out.

Thank you everyone.


JG said...

Wait, maybe the yo-yo dinosaur is the one in photo 1? Looks like he has something (a monkey?) on a chain in his right paw?


Anonymous said...

JG, we CAN see the dinosaur with the monkey yo-yo in the first image. The monkey’s dangling from thin chain, not string—that the dinosaur is delicately holding.

Thank you, Major. Fun side trip, today!


Anonymous said...

JG, I just read your last comment, AFTER posting mine. I’m slow today.

Major Pepperidge said...

JB, I love mini golf too, and live near a pretty good miniature golf course, but my friends are too cool to go there with me, which is a bummer. Same with bowling, which I think is tons of fun! Maybe I’m weird. Goofy Golf gets twenty golden gorillas for all of the care and creativity that went into designing and building all of those crazy tableaus. The Chinese dragon is delightfully spiky!

Nanook, the funny thing is that after I had already created this post, I bought a random group of slides, and there was yet another view of Goofy Golf in the mix. I was tempted to scan it and add it to this batch, but… I didn’t. Thanks for all of the car IDs!

I wondered about the Sky Ride too, and forgot to say something about it in my text. I believe that it is the Disneyland Skyway, but the air is so clear that it appears to be closer. Or your guess about an ocean pier might be plausible. I’m OK with a purple brontosaurus!

K. Martinez, so you actually went to Miracle Strip Amusement Park? Very cool, though of course it is sad that it is now gone.

Andrew, thank you for those links, Miracle Strip Amusement Park looks like it was really nice. Again, somebody clearly too some real care to make the place interesting, and I always appreciate it when an amusement park isn’t just another Six Flags clone. How is it possible that the Skyride was just left to rot (and that it is still there today)?? Thanks Andrew.

K. Martinez, man, I was rockin’ out to that video’s music! That Skyride seems like it was especially high up, which is very cool. Thank you!

K. Martinez, you must have mentioned that you lived in Florida, but I sure don’t recall hearing it before! It is more than understandable that some memories would fade or blend together.

JG, did you used to live up in Redding? I passed through there a few years ago, heading to the incredible tourist destination of Weaverville. My mom and dad bought a plot of land up there in the 1970s and I’d never seen it. Man, it is REMOTE. It’s kind of pretty, but can’t see myself making that trek again, even though I did enjoy looking at some of the sights. I want to see the dinosaur with the monkey yo-yo too!

JG, oh yeah! There does appear to be something furry at the end of that chain. Did the dino’s hand move up and down?

Sue, zooming in, I think that it says that the dino is an Allosaurus. The rare Florida variety. I hope that monkey enjoys being a yo-yo.

Sue, I’m afraid I will have to send you an additional bill!

Melissa said...

Still operating? OK, road trip! Everybody get in the station wagon! Don’t forget to go first, because we’re not stopping.

JB said...

Nanook, I like all those descriptive car-color names. So I shall offer up some names for the Goofy Golf structures.
Pic #1: The Moai is resplendent in "seagull poo white". The Hollywoodosaurus to the right is coated in "cretaceous tan", sometimes called "dirt".
Pic #2: The big monkey is sporting (curiously) "George brown". The sphinx is "Egyptian sand". The brontosaur is "swamp algae blue". While the Chinese dragon has a "bok choy green" body with "bean sprout white" horns and "daikon white" teeth.

Tokyo!, thanks for the google map link. I see the purple brontosaur! On the left edge of the map image there's an ostrich with its head lowered to the ground. I guess you're supposed to whack yer ball into the bird's mouth and up inside its neck.

Andrew, another fantastic video you linked to! It's eerie to see the Skyride station and buckets completely overgrown with vegetation; like a lost temple in the Amazon. It's weird that the footage of the Skyride in its heyday is in black & white. While the footage of it in its decrepitude is in color.

JG, by golly you're right. That dino DOES have a monkey on a chain! I wonder how the monkey is used for the golf hole?

Well yes, Major; you ARE weird. But everybody knows that. It's why we keep coming here. :-)
Major, I bet you're right about the monkey being lifted up and down by the dinosaur. You'd have to time your shot just right to miss hitting the monkey.

Melissa, I'm up for the roadtrip but I live 3,000 miles away from Florida. I'm gonna need to stop a few times along the way.

Anonymous said...

Ha! I’m laughing picturing all us adults crammed into that station wagon—and sliding around the back—turning corners.


Nanook said...

Did I mention before that I went to Camp Trinity (the Bar 717 Ranch) for two summers, which is located between Hayfork and Hyampom - about 50 miles SW of Weaverville. (Did you visit Shasta Dam when you were up there-?)

JG said...

Major, Mrs. G’s family lived in Redding in the early years of our marriage. We were frequent visitors there during that time.

I also have been to Weaverville, but did not see any looms or spinning wheels. It’s a long way off. Not the End of the World, but you can see it from there. Bigfoot is reputed to have a summer home north in Hoopa.

Sue, Major is driving that wagon and yelling at all of us to be quiet and quit fighting or he will turn around and take us all back home and we will miss Disneyland.


Pegleg Pete said...

Very late to the party today, but great pics, Major – thanks! Goofy Golf is in Panama City Beach, which is rather a different place from Panama City across the bay. I went to Goofy Golf quite a few times in the late 1970's and early 1980's. It was always a highlight to any trip to Panama City Beach. For a while there was a fun jungle/volcano themed mini-attraction between Goofy Golf and the Miracle Mile Amusement Park. Eventually the t-shirt and souvenr shops proved more profitable than the jungle trail and the place rebranded as a jungle-themed mall named Alvin's. I was down in PCB when I was in the states a couple of years back, post Hurricane Michael, and the jungle mall was long gone (as was the amusement park) but Goofy Golf was indeed still there. The hurricane hit Panama City quite badly but Panama City Beach wasn't damaged nearly as much.

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, hmmm, a non-stop road trip to Florida? We can’t even stop at HoJo’s??

JB, those are some good color names. Somebody at the car companies probably made a lot of money coming up with official names like “Woodside Green Metallic”. Like, millions of dollars. Maybe billions. I’ve never been to a miniature golf course nearly as fancy as Goofy Golf, but then again, it’s pretty hard to beat. I’ve heard that there are some mini-golf courses near (or even in?) WDW, but have no concept of how amazing they are.

Sue, yes, we’ll all have our sleeping bags and rumpled pillows!

Nanook, you’ve mentioned it now! Did you make a wallet at camp? Maybe you got to paddle a canoe, or ride a horse. We didn’t go to Shasta Dam, it would have only been a 10 mile detour, but by then we couldn’t wait to get out of the car.

JG, I didn’t see any spinning wheels either, but there were artifacts from the gold mining days that were sort of interesting. Old rusting hydraulic “cannons” and such, and Weaverville had a cute little museum that’s worth a visit if you are in the area. I’m not the yelling type, I just press the “Kenny G.” button on my stereo.

Major Pepperidge said...

Pegleg Pete, I sure know nothing about Panama City OR Panama City Beach, so I bow to your expertise. What kind of attraction was the jungle/volcano thing? A ride of some sort, I assume? Merchandise taking over, hmmm, that sounds familiar. So glad that Goofy Golf was not damaged by the hurricane!

Nanook said...

It's doubtful I made a wallet; but a lanyard (in purple/black) along with a stained, wooden sign with ZigZag cuts in the ends - engraved: J. P. Commode are both still going strong some 60 years later.

TokyoMagic! said...

Andrew and Ken, thanks for those links! That Skyride station looks kind of creepy out there by itself, with all of nature growing up around it. I wonder if that is where Disney got the "smashed up" gondola that they put next to the Abominable Snowman, back in 2015. ;-)