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Blog Ambassadors' Miniature Golf Replication Fascination

Throughout the year we'll hear from eight bloggers as they share about their family's time in the Riley Children's Health Sports Legends Experience and how it inspires them to explore these sports back at home. 

This post was written by Children's Museum Blog Ambassador Kate Amos. Follow her posts on the blog or follow her at @indywithkids on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter.  

It was the first thing I noticed when we visited the Sports Legends Experience on our initial visit—the golf course replicas. Of course, the extent of details in each area of the sports experience is extreme, but the expanse of the golf course still shocks me. With four separate courses intertwined throughout the area I was amazed to learn that two entire 9-hole courses were created with replicas of some of Pete and Alice Dye’s most famous holes from around the world. 

I’ve always been fascinated by things that are what they aren’t. Growing up in the theater with two actor parents I loved to hang out with the set designers. Seeing how a pile of materials was constructed to create a full interior of a home, which would then be whisked away or turned around to reveal an entirely different setting was fascinating to me. When I visited Disney World in my twenties, my first visit since I was a child, I was intrigued by the way Downtown Disney was really a town, and it also really wasn’t. Not surprisingly then, I found myself similarly fascinated with the Pete and Alice Dye Golf Experience. The way the multitude of textures, surfaces, and levels make up intricate “sets” for each hole...it’s the most interested I’ve ever been in the game of golf! 

My younger kids weren’t particularly concerned with the idea of replicas during our first visit. Lu, however, was interested to learn that the image on the sign was a real course hole somewhere in the world, and matched the hole he was playing. We examined every sign on our course (green) and were excited to see one from Lake Michigan where we vacation, as well as one from China. All three of my children found joy in the rocks at the edge of the course, and we spent much of our time exploring the rocks (in all the ways kids do!) 

On a return visit with Lu I told him our mission—to examine the replicas. We read the story of Pete and Alice Dye and decided that when we returned home we too would become great creators. Out on the course (green again, after some disappointment resulting from the fact that the favored-color blue course is not, in fact, made of replicas). We touched the grasses and concluded that none of them were actually grass, and each of them was slightly different in color, texture, and length. There was discussion of what the blue and tan were supposed to be (water, of course, and it turns out the tan is NOT dead grass but sand. Lu has never played a real game of golf so a small chat about sand traps followed).  We explored the rocks again, determining that although very realistic, they are also not real rocks. We found this interesting due to the fact that real rocks would impede the ball in similar ways. 

Back home again we got to work on our own replica. Step one was choosing an image to replicate. We decided on a photo of our family at Lake Michigan last summer. While not a golf course hole, it had different textures and materials and was in a location also seen in one of the replicas. Lu wanted to recreate it on paper, so we discussed the difference between a drawing and a replica. A simple sketch was brought outside to explore the backyard area and look for supplies. Lu chose a large blue tarp to denote the lake. We debated the options for the sand. While on one hand the replicas at the sports experience don’t use any natural materials, we decided that that was for the sake of being able to golf on it. And probably for mess. Our yard is already a mess and we aren’t creating a golf hole so we chose to go with real sand. 

It was no small issue when the boys (Jack-Attack had joined in by this point) realized that in a true replica of our image only two boats would be featured. It was also a bit tedious when they were asked to create the castle remnants from the photograph instead of the sand creation currently of interest to them (namely stomping giant holes into the sand). Nevertheless when the final product was completed they gave a satisfactory nod before promptly improving upon it by adding every boat we own and smashing the castle walls to smithereens. Our final “replica” was more "two boys and a shovel" and less "blending in with the natural surroundings." Our apologies to the Dyes.  

The moral of the story? Well, I suppose it’s that replicas are fascinating to behold, and tedious to create. It must be that attention to detail that makes the Pete and Alice Dye replicas come to life, even without the real sand. 

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Categories: Blog Ambassadors, Exhibits
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