Forgotten Houston for Kids: Castle Golf and Games
Me on the left about to boat bump a sucka.
Photo by George Balke
Miniature golf has seemed to hold a fascination with kids since it was invented, which is remarkable considering how freaking boring the grown-up version of the game is for those same children. From the early 1970s through the early part of this millennium, the place to get your putt-putt on was Castle Golf and Games. Tucked into the armpit of the I-10 exit off the southbound side of the North Loop was a glorious replica castle surrounded by golf, bumper boats and batting cages, filled with video games and skee ball.
It could be argued that it was second only to Astroworld for many years in terms of entertaining kids in the Houston area.
Name: Castle Golf and Games Description: Miniature Golf Amusement Complex Location: 610 at I-10 Interchange Features: Putt-putt golf course, bumper boats, video games and batting cages.
The multiple golf courses were the main attraction here with all kinds of hazards and features including a good-size windmill and even interaction with the castle itself -- your final shot went through a chute into the castle, never to be seen again. This place was like the scene from Happy Gilmore only without the evil, laughing clown.
The batting cages and video games were nice additions as well, but the bumper boats may have been my personal favorite. They were just like bumper cars but fueled with a lawnmower engine and the savage faculties of tweens, and drivers could race across over-chlorinated water and smash the living crap out of their friends and unsuspecting adults who weren't paying attention.
When did it exist?
It opened in the early 1970s and finally went under completely in 2004.
Why did it disappear? According to a Wikipedia entry, the last company to own it was forced into bankruptcy, which shuttered the castle.
What replaced it? For a while, the castle just sat there surrounded by decaying golf courses. Eventually, all of the surrounding grounds were bulldozed, leaving only the castle itself as a fleeting reminder of the fun we had. Just a couple of years ago, the castle too was demolished to make room for, what else in Houston but a freeway expansion.
What is there now? Currently, the lot is filled with giant piles of dirt and concrete as the expansion of the entire interchange is completed. Eventually the area will be covered with concrete, and commuters, blissfully unaware, will have fender benders in the very spot where bad-ass bumper boats once ruled the land.