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Article

Mount Alanticus: The Most Over-The-Top Mini Golf Course in Myrtle Beach

  By  Kathryn Hedgepath

In the Mini Golf Capital of the World, where extremely large and fantastical miniature golf courses are commonplace, there is one course that literally towers over all others. 

Mt. Atlanticus Minotaur Goff, stretching five stories high and featuring two grandiose 19-hole courses is one of the most over-the-top and delightful miniature golf course experiences you'll ever have.

This modern marvel, which winds it way across multiple levels, both outdoors and indoors through one of the most historic buildings in Myrtle Beach, celebrated its 25th anniversary in the summer of 2023.

With that milestone in mind, I thought it was about time to take on its two courses, The Minotaur and The Conch, for the first time.  

Front sign at Mt Atlanticus mini golf

The Father of Modern Mini Golf

Playing Mt. Atlanticus for the first time was a special occasion for me because it was more than just exploring a new putt putt course.  It was experiencing the culmination of one man’s career designing some of the most distinctive courses in Myrtle Beach and around the country. 

That man was James “Poddy” Bryan, who has been named by Sports Illustrated magazine as the "Father of Modern Miniature Golf". 

Bryan designed more than 20 courses in Myrtle Beach and around 200 across the United States in his illustrious career. Having passed away in 2002, the design at Mt. Atlanticus — which opened in 1998 — was his final course and by far the most impressive.

A testament to his legendary status, just before Mt. Atlanticus was finished there was a minor hurricane projected to blow through Myrtle Beach. So confident that his new creation was formidable enough to survive the storm, Poddy once spent the night in the highest tiki hut in a sleeping bag.

The next morning, his crew found him safe and sound, and particularly pleased that Mt. Atlanticus had made it through the night unscathed. 

Mount Atlanticus Minotaur

Growing Up in the Golden Era

Growing up in Myrtle Beach during the Poddy Bryan's Golden Era of Myrtle Beach Mini Golf, I have been able to play through many of his courses over the years.

When I was a kid, I’d play Jungle Safari Golf at 71st Avenue North.  My Dad would drop my cousin/best friend and me off there and he would pay one price for us to play all day. 

As a teen, I was excited to take on the even more elaborate Jungle Lagoon across from the Swamp Fox roller coaster at Family Kingdom.  I have great memories of playing rounds with good friends and even my first boyfriend. 

Later, when I left home and would come back to visit, I'd be wowed by the next generation of miniature golf courses that cropped up each time I returned. 

Even when I came home for good to take care of my aging father, those latest courses became an important part of maintaining Dad’s quality of life as his memories faded during his last decade. 

Each week we would take on a different course:  Shipwreck Island Adventure Golf, Jurassic Mini Golf, Captain Hook’s Adventure Golf, and what is now Broadway Grand Prix

Every year, we’d get an annual pass for unlimited games make some great memories.  He may have been losing the ability to remember things, but he certainly remembered how to putt putt. 

While each one had a different theme and layout, there were certain "Poddy" signatures that would appear at each one.  It's these signature elements that I looked for as I readied to play Mt. Atlanticus for the first time.

View from Mt Atlanticus mini golf course

Playing Mt. Atlanticus

As I experienced my first round at this massive marvel, there were several things that were memorable about the course. 

First, there is the sheer magnitude (or should I say altitude) of the course.  You climb up regular stairs, a spiral staircase, stone steps and various winding paths to heights unlike any miniature golf course I'd ever played.

Even with all these heights, much of the course is easily accessible and ADA compliant thanks to an elevator that takes guests to the top levels. 

The next is the theme — wow, what a theme! 

When you are given your scorecard, you will notice the origin story of Mt. Atlanticus featured there. 

In 1998 a 50,000-year-old miniature golf resort that had broken away from the continent of Atlantis washed ashore on the coast of Myrtle Beach and settled two blocks from the beach into what had been the city’s first department store, Chapin Company. 

According to the course's lore, those who play its courses will have all sorts of mysteries revealed to them — ranging from tales of the abominable snowman to the secrets of UFOs. 

Poddy Bryan's over-the-top lore and attention to details extends to the course's design as well. 

Each hole is a little masterpiece.  So much thought went into each one. 

All of his tunnels, banks and water features are taken up to the next level here.

Instead of using it as a hazard like many courses, there are holes here where water becomes a facilitator. The idea is that you purposely hit your ball into the water.  If you are successful, the current carries your ball directly to the hole. 

Throughout the round you'll experience many different types of hole, ranging from long and bumpy power shots to short and technical mazes, with so much interesting terrain and unique ideas mixed in. 

It's truly a one-of-a-kind round of miniature golf, unlike anything I'd experienced.

Mount Atlanticus 19th Hole

The coup de grace: 19th Hole

When you have a next-level putt putt attraction like Mt. Atlanticus, sometimes 18 holes on each course is just not enough.

Traditionally, when you sink that last hole, your little ball disappears forever — not here. 

At this course, you carry your ball back down all those flights of stairs to the other side of the lobby where you bought your ticket.  That is where you'll find the coup de grace, the 19th holes. 

They are side-by-side and apparently identical in what they require you to do. 

All you have to accomplish is getting your ball down a skinny peninsula to the hole before it veers off one of the sides into the surrounding water (where it disappears forever). 

The incredibly adept — or lucky — players who accomplish this task and get a hole in one win a lifetime pass to play the course.  Looking at this uber-challenging hole, I would say that it is impossible if not for the hundreds of Polaroid photos that line the walls showing winners from over the years.

In the end, whether it be this unique challenge, the menacing-looking Mintoaur greeting you on arrival or the masterful multi-level play, there are just some many little touches reminiscent of the brilliant design and attention to detail that Poddy Bryan put into his work. 

It undeniable that there will never be another quite like him and surely no course that's quite like his Mt. Alanticus.

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