A Hole in One for Ocean Education


It’s not every day that an octopus or gray whale joins you on the green, but that’s all par for the course at Pelly’s Mini Golf in Del Mar, Calif.

Fifteen minutes north of UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, this new family destination features two 18-hole miniature golf courses focused entirely on the oceans.

Birch Aquarium at Scripps lent its expertise to the ambitious $1.2 million project, which aims to educate golfers of all ages about the ocean and inspire them to protect it. Aquarium educators supplied facts about sea animals and conservation for educational signs highlighted throughout Pelly’s Ocean Adventure course. San Diego Surfrider Foundation provided information for Pelly's Surfin' Safari course.

“We are thrilled to be part of this endeavor,” Birch Aquarium at Scripps Executive Director Nigella Hillgarth said. “This project is a perfect fit for the aquarium because our core mission involves ocean science education and promoting ocean conservation.”

Pelly’s Ocean Adventure course features 20 life-like sculptures of sharks, dolphins, and other marine animals created by local artisan Gerry Kirk. Replicas of gray whales actually spout water from blowholes, and golfers can attempt a hole-in-one inside a shark cage. The surfing-themed course showcases the birth of surfing, local surf spots, and a hole underneath a tubular wave.

Instead of using traditional green artificial grass, Pelly’s creators opted for blue turf on both courses to simulate being in the ocean.

“We wanted an experience for families that was not only fun, entertaining, and challenging, but also educational,” said Tim Fennell, chief executive officer of the Del Mar Fairgrounds, which operates Pelly’s Mini Golf. “Participants will get an appreciation for one of our precious but threatened resources – the ocean.”

The creators also had their eyes on conservation when they built the course, which replaces a 21-year-old miniature golf facility long past its prime. All of the concrete from the old course was used in the new project. Drought-tolerant plants and recycled mulch are used for the landscaping. And storm water will be blocked from discharging into the surrounding wetland.

Pelly’s Mini Golf is located across from the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The course is open every day and evening. Cost is $9 adults, $7 ages 12 and under.

For more information, visit www.pellysminigolf.com

--Jessica Z. Crawford


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