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Greenwald, McKnight face off at Planet Fun's Par 41

While Charlottesville isn't exactly what one would refer to as a bastion of entertainment, it does suit the average miniature golfer's needs. C'ville has two places where one can play putt-putt, both costing $4 for 18 holes. The first, actually named "Putt-Putt," is located on Rio Road, just east of Route 29. Putt Putt has two 18-hole courses which both are, quite frankly, very disappointing.

Putt Putt has several enormous metal animals, a stereotypical mini-golf staple. These include an elephant and a giant giraffe--pretty cool one might think. But they don't ever come into play on the course. Instead they are mere ornaments on the sides of the narrow greens. This course leaves much to be desired, but it is better than nothing.

The first showdown between myself and rising fourth-year College student Tee McKnight took place last week at Putt Putt's north 18. (It should be noted that Tee's father is Tom McKnight, now the top-ranked amateur golfer in the country. In last four months, Tee's father has played in the Masters and the U.S. Open--not too shabby.)

Putt Putt's par-36 north course consists solely of par-two holes with little imagination. The only thing noteworthy about this event is that I won, shooting a +4, while Tee shot +9. Amazingly enough, I was able to stave off the usual choke job I perform so well on the back nine.

While Putt Putt is crap crap, Charlottesville's other miniature golf course, at Planet Fun, is an 18-hole gem located behind Keglers on Berkmar Drive. With a breathtaking view of the back of the bowling alley as a backdrop, Tee and I squared off for some friendly competition and trash talking several days ago.

Hole 1:

The first hole is a par three with three tiers. You must play the hole on the right to make it to the lowest level in one stroke. Tee missed on his first try but was able to save par. I, on the other hand, missed a six-foot birdie opportunity and had to settle for a disappointing par. The 110 degree heat of the last week roasted the carpet, making the greens awfully fast.

Through 1: McKnight: E, Greenwald: E

Hole 2

Perhaps the easiest hole on the course, the par two second can be handled two ways. I went on the top ramp, Tee went underneath. We both ended up with par. Any idiot could par this hole.

Through 2: McKnight: E, Greenwald: E

Hole 3

The par two third is steep uphill with three traps. You must play strong or you will end up in the water. Both Tee and I hit nice opening shots, only to screw up easy par putts. Tee bogeyed and I double-bogeyed. Through just three holes, I was beginning to unravel.

Through 3: McKnight: +1, Greenwald: +2

Hole 4

The par two fourth is challenging. A big ridge on the right leads to nasty rough. Tee ended up bogeying this hole while I escaped with par. Through four, the score is tied.

Through 4: McKnight: +2, Greenwald: +2

Hole 5

This hole, a par two, is rather lame. A hill down the green causes a break to the left, but only slight. Tee shot par on this hole while I bogeyed. I have begun to come to grips with the fact that I understand how to read greens about as well as I understand Pablo Neruda readings. Tee takes the lead.

Through 5: McKnight: +2, Greenwald: +3

Hole 6

The par three sixth contains the most difficult opening shot in all of golf, forget Pinehurst No. 2. You need to make an eight-foot put to get the ball down to the next tier. Impossible. Both Tee and I missed and were forced to two-putt to the second level. Tee made a nice uphill put for par. I continued my downward spiral, bogeying after missing a six-foot par opportunity. Tee informed me that he had already packed my lunch and was now taking me to school. The bus would arrive shortly.

Through 6: McKnight: +2, Greenwald: +4

Hole 7

This par two forces you to go either right or left, as a rock trap sits in the middle of the green. Both Tee and I went right and both picked up par.

Through 7: McKnight: +2, Greenwald: +4

Hole 8

The par three eighth is not too bad. Really a glorified par two, the only trick to this hole is to hit the ball hard enough so it clears the ramp. Tee and I both birdied the hole. I was now getting my groove on steady, beginning to feel the flow.

Through 8: McKnight: +1, Greenwald: +3

Hole 9

The last hole on the front nine is a par two, with three rock traps scattered between the tee and the hole. Tee went in and, luckily for him, out of one of the traps and ended up in position for a nice par put. I, however, was in a zone. I nailed the hole-in-one for birdie, and celebrated by dancing around and yelling, "Who's your daddy!"

Through 9: McKnight: +1, Greenwald: +2

Hole 10

The start of the back nine is a fairly easy par two. You have to hit the ball under the crate that blocks the green. Tee scored a par, while I once again misread the green and bogeyed. My basic problem, I think, is that I am not a very good golfer.

Through 10: McKnight: +1, Greenwald: +3

Hole 11

The next three holes comprise Amen Corner, a difficult stretch at the back of the course. The eleventh is a tough par three, requiring putting through a log to get to the second tier. Tee played his first shot too strong and ended up at the back of the front green.

"I'm in the worst spot ever. Son of a bitch," Tee said before scoring a quadruple bogey. I bogeyed and jumped into the lead. But this was no time to celebrate. And a river runs through it.

Through 11: McKnight: +5, Greenwald: +4

Hole 12

The par two twelfth is uphill and uneven. Tee left his first shot short and bogeyed; par for me. Boo-ya.

Through 12: McKnight: +6, Greenwald: +4

Hole 13

The par three 13th is a narrow 50-foot green, sharply uphill. Rough on both sides flanks the fairway. You must hit the tee shot hard or you will be in a whole world of hurt. Both Tee and I hit solid opening strokes and claimed birdies.

Through 13: McKnight: +5, Greenwald: +3

Hole 14

Forget about hole 14, this is the hardest hole in the entire freakin' world. This par two rises about three feet and has a 90 degree right turn in the middle with a large rock situated in the center. I'm confident that I could have tried this hole 50 times and never put the ball anywhere near the hole. Both Tee and I maxed-out with quadruple bogeys. Throw me a freakin' bone.

Through 14: McKnight: +9, Greenwald: +7

Hole 15

The par two 15th rises slightly with a trap on the right. Tee nailed the hole-in-one for birdie while I made par.

Through 15: McKnight: +8, Greenwald: +7

Hole 16

With only three holes remaining--and a one stroke lead--it was time for me to get my game on. The par two 16th has traps just to the right and left of the hole. Tee took a tough double bogey and I, after ending up in the right trap, took an even tougher triple bogey. After slamming my club into the ground, I was ready to move to the 17th.

Through 16: McKnight: +10, Greenwald: +10

Hole 17

The score was now tied with two holes left. This par two has a huge ridge leading to nasty rough on the right side. Tee avoided the rough for par. I didn't. A few strokes and a triple bogey later, I found myself choking down the stretch, like I was a player on the Miami Heat.

Through 17: McKnight: +10, Greenwald: +13.

Hole 18

The par two 18th is a fairly simple 35-footer with a left to right break. With a three-stroke lead, Tee played conservatively for bogey. I was out of my game, having been defeated by the past few holes. I picked up a pathetic double bogey en route to a three stoke loss. I think I'll stick with journalism.

Final score: McKnight: +12, Greenwald: +15.

(I strongly recommend that you print out this article and take it with you when you play. The tips will come in handy, I assure you--likely resulting in the shaving of several strokes off your score.)

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