Glowing Greens Pirate Miniature Golf, Portland

Posted on
Apr 5, 2012

You won’t believe how many words I need to describe what this is.

It’s not easy being Portland. Staying on the cutting edge of weird, on the forefront of WTF, can only be exhausting. The city is constantly inventing, perfecting, and growing tired of things that won’t reach the rest of us until months or even years later.

They are the connoisseurs of pastimes we don’t yet know exist.

The problem is, everything’s been done already. The pressure to come up with something new must be overwhelming. I’ve a theory of how Portlanders deal with this.

First they grab two top hats (obtaining said top hats is relatively easy. Most people who live in the Northwest have at least one, and I’m pretty sure the city sends you another when you move into the greater PDX area). In one hat, they put a bunch of slips of paper, filled with a myriad of nouns. Olives. Kabuki. Rumspringa. The other hat is similarly filled with slips of paper, this time with descriptive words written on them. Freestyle. Solo. Cold-pressed.

To find the next great Portlandian hobby, one must merely pick a slip of paper at random from each of the two hats.

Artisanal contact lenses. Extreme vacuuming. Vegan jerky. AROMA DENTISTRY. YES.

Occasionally, though, there’s a glitch in the two-hat system. Someone gets a little crazy. Instead of one slip of paper, they reach in and pull out five, or six. At least, this is what I assume happens. Otherwise, there’s no other explanation for Glowing Greens (caution: open that link, and you’ll hear shrieking seagulls). The list of descriptive words before the avocation is just too random, too absurd.

Underground. Glow-in-the-dark. 3-D. Pirate. Miniature. Golf.

No, I’m not kidding.

On our last trip to Portland, some friends invited us there (we were joined by some short freeloaders who cheated the entire time). About halfway through the list of adjectives, we’d already said yes. If it’s underground and glow-in-the-dark, I’m in. Make it 3-D, pirate, and miniature, and I’ll buy a season pass. I don’t care what is it. It could be a laundromat (and knowing Portland, it probably soon will be).

The funny thing about Glowing Greens is that once you get all those ridiculous descriptors out, there’s little else left to say about the place. It’s fun. It’s silly. It’s moderately creepy for small children, and the 3-D glasses give you a miserable headache if you leave them on for too long.

There’s also ginormous fake alligators.

And skulls. Lots of skulls.

The balls glow-in-the-dark, too, which is convenient, particularly for the all the little ones who keep stealing or moving them (at one point, I didn’t even have to keep sinking my putts, because a tiny pair of hands kept rolling my ball in for me. I’m not complaining. That must be how royalty golfs).

No one kept score, and there was a large amount of cheating going on. Purists would cringe, I’m sure.   But then again, who’s to say that Glowing Greens isn’t the truer version of the sport?

Maybe real golf is the imposter here. Maybe it’s too regular-sized. Too above-ground. Too … not glow-in-the-dark. And there is definitely a dearth of pirates. Definitely.

In fact, regular golf is so weird, with its pom-pom club protectors and argyle socks, I suspect it might become the next rage in Portland. It will take months, maybe years, before the rest of the world catches on. And by then, Portland will have moved on to something even crazier, I’m sure.


The Essentials on Glowing Greens Pirate Miniature Golf, Portland:

  • Verdict: If it’s raining, you have kids with you, and there’s nothing else to do, I’d say go for it. It won’t change your life, but it will give you a nice, dry way to spend an afternoon.
  • How to get there: This place is would be easy to miss, were it not for the giant pirate standing outside the door. Their site expressly states that they are under (and NOT inside) the Hilton Executive Tower. It’s in the heart of downtown, so we walked there, but the Pioneer Square Max Station is only a block away.
  • Ideal for: kids; rainy days; folks with good night vision.
  • Insider tips: You absolutely don’t need the 3-D glasses. They are optional and cost extra. We got them because we wanted the full experience (having merely underground glow-in-the-dark pirate mini-golf, minus the 3-D, just isn’t the same thing, as I’m sure you’ll agree.) Weekends get crowded, so consider calling to make a reservation. Wear bright colors if you want to glow in the blacklight.
  • Nearby food: PDX is a foodie’s dream. Anyplace you go is almost guaranteed to be awesome. I’d personally walk up to the food carts at 10th and Alder.
  • Good for kids: Oh, yeah. Some of the skulls are a little creepy, but the five and seven year old we were with loved it.

Leave a Comment

  • My friend is going to Portland soon and this is right up her alley. I am sending her a link to the website, only I’m not warning her about the seagulls.

  • I want to kiss this place on the mouth.

  • Sometimes I see other people’s takes on Portland and I think to myself… “Wait, doesn’t everyone have weird things like this in their city?” If you live here, I think the weirdest thing is that these things start seeming normal.

    • I couldn’t agree more… I moved to Portland when I was in grade school and can confidently say that the fact that I am not longer horrified by this city’s nonsense is something that scares me. Interestingly enough, I work across kitty-corner from this miniature golf course (5th & Taylor) and never even remember it’s there until I’m hiding under their awning during a sudden flash flood (most likely on my way to stuff my fat face with Schmizza or Qdoba).

  • I love miniature golf and Glowing Green Pirates looks sooo cool! I love Portland but don’t get there often, but this will be a must do on my next trip! BTW – Love “Portlandia.”

  • @Jules, Baltimore is home to some weird stuff too: John Waters proposed that the city’s motto be: Come to Baltimore and be Shocked. We’ve got the Edgar Allan Poe museum, Hon Fest, Beehive Hairdo contests, and the crown jewel, the American Visionary Art Museum – where being oddly psychotic brings the best out of non-artists. Looks like I need to visit Portland.

  • We have Monster Mini Golf which is similar in my area, of course my kids LOVE it, but it is my worst nightmare, my roots always glow, along with all the lint on my clothes and it is very loud inside and bright and disorienting when you emerge out into the world!

  • Andi

    There’s one of these in Milpitas, CA (close to San Jose). It’s underwater themed (there may be some pirates) and it’s called Lunar Golf (makes sense). I enjoyed it, but it is odd to emerge from the place into bright sunlight.

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