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Time Stands Still at Tee Time Miniature Golf

first_imgOfficially it is called Tee Time Miniature Golf, but they could just as easily call it “Back in Time.”One of the first and oldest mini-golf layouts in Ocean City, Tee Time is a decidedly low-tech throwback to mini-golf’s roots. It boasts 15 moving objects, 20 holes squeezed into a 5,000-square-ft. sliver of boardwalk, and an inflation-busting $5 “greens fee.”Its landmark “Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe” 20th hole fronts the property at the boardwalk. It is where visitors meet up, have their picture taken or cheer on golfers shooting for a free game.Among the Ocean City Boardwalk traditions, mini-golf is tried and true, ranking up there with salt water taffy, Ferris Wheels and caramel popcorn.Tuesday’s cloudy weather brought families off the beach and onto Tee-Time’s intimate setting. Among them were three generations of Kristy Young’s family. Young, of Spring City, PA, her son Cole and daughter Kira seemed to be having almost as much fun as her parents, Elsie and Siegfried Rebnegger of Souderton, PA.Siegfried Rebnegger of Souderton, PA takes aim on the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star obstacle on hole 13.“The weather is not great and we knew it would be a lot of fun for the grand-kids,” Elsie said, just before sinking a 12-ft putt on hole number #11, a par 2 featuring the whirling blades of a helicopter.Speaking of three generations, the Raab family of Ocean City, Tee Time’s owners, dates back just as far.Monica Raab currently manages the facility, wedged between an arcade and the Wonderland amusement park. Her grandparents Richard and the Dorothy opened the course and over time their children Gary, Jerry, Scott Mark and Diane were all involved.Monica tried to pin down the exact summer Tee Time opened, but the fact proved to be as elusive as a hole-in-one on the ninth, which is guarded by the foot-powered car of Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble.“My Dad said it is at least 40 years,” Monica estimated.The layout, which includes an ingenious use of limited space, was designed by the late Dorothy, who passed away in 1994. She also painted the obstacles and the original cartoon mural on the common wall with Wonderland and came up with the “yellow brick road” which guides golfers from one hole to the next.A “yellow brick road” guides golfers around the layout.“The course is still mostly all original, although we refurbished things and added a few things over the years such as the Dinosaur (the 18th hole), Monica said.Carlos Parral is “the brains behind the operation,” Monica said, the “right hand man” of her grandfather back in the day, who still helps keep things moving.  “He keeps (the obstacles) moving, does the painting and designed the 20th hole.”The 20th is a makeable hole-in-one that sounds a bell when an ace is recorded, letting everyone within earshot that a free game is being awarded.“We tell a story about a man who made his young son, who did not even want to play mini-golf, to play a round anyway. He said ‘I played here when I was a kid and won a free game and you have to try it.’ Don’t you know, the boy made a hole in one and got his free game?  The kid then said he loved mini-golf and would only play at Tee Time.”What really sets Tee Time apart are the details: the kaleidoscope of colors, an electric cold water drinking fountain underneath a gazebo for those hot summer days, cartoon depictions of the course on one of the walls bordering the property, and clean restrooms. “That alone is worth $5,” said a woman who asked that we not use her name. It is all on one level, making the course  “stroller accessible” for young families.Lucy the Elephant, a Jersey Shore landmark, is depicted on Hole 2.And then there are the holes themselves, an eclectic array of animals and machinery: a depiction of Lucy the Margate Elephant, the massive brontosaurus and giraffe interspersed with the Red Barron’s airplane, the “TNT Dynamite” factory and a pinball machine, just to name a few.Monica said her favorite hole is the first, with its spinning octopus because “I will probably get a hole-in-one to start the game, and I am not good at miniature golf.” She said the hardest might be the alligator-guarded 7th. And the crown jewel –  aside from Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe might be windmill on hole 5.Ron Ferguson, a podiatrist from Pittsburgh, said he has been playing the course with his now-grown daughters Katie and Caroline since they were toddlers. Ferguson brings his own putter to Tee Time, which he refers to as “the Club.”“My daughters and I talk trash about our games here as soon as the conversation turns to Ocean City, and throughout the drive (to get here),” he said.The Decker family Chris and Theresa with son Carson and daughter Sophia of Belfont PA.The Deckers, Chris, Theresa and son Carson and daughter Sophia, of Belfont, PA were more low-key.“We thought it was going to rain (preventing a beach day) and my son really likes the dinosaur,” he said.Such family fun is what Tee Time is all about,” Monica Raab said. “We have had so much fun over the years as a family and we want other families to experience the fun as we have.”The iconic “free Game Hole” featuring the Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe. Turner Glissman of Denver Colorado (left) and Christian Dates of Ocean City, outside the boardwalk entrance to Tee Time Golf.last_img read more

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