Mini golf isn’t just golf on a miniature scale. Sure, the name implies that, but a few rounds at a mini golf course can be so much more than simply whacking golf balls across artificial turf or green carpet.

There are mini golf courses out there that can transport you, and your family, into entirely different worlds. What other sport allows you to play your way through different countries, a pirate cove or a world full of dinosaurs? The best courses combine the pleasures of golfing and sinking a hole-in-one with wildly imaginative backgrounds. Here are a few of the most interesting mini golf course ever made.

Around the World in 18 Holes, Lake George, New York

Around the World Golf

Just a hop and a skip away from Lake George, you’ll come across the Around the World in 18 Holes mini golf course. Here you can golf on the American side of things, or else take a tour around the world, and visit such fascinating places as Europe and the Far East, with each exotic locale shrunken down for your putting convenience. You’ll become a world traveler in no time at all.

Camelot Golfland, Anaheim, California

If you happen to find yourself in Anaheim, CA, you should definitely swing by Camelot Golfland. This theme park offers up all kinds of attractions, including several massive mini golf courses. Here you can drive your golf ball past Spanish castles, large windmills and wild jungles. There are courses available for a variety of skill levels, so every member of your family (as long as he or she is old enough to walk and hold a putter) should be able to participate.

Pirate Island Golf, New Jersey

kjarrett, Flickr

There are three Pirate Island Golf centers stretching down the Jersey Shore. If you want to be surrounded by pirate lore, wooden ships, tough water hazards and suspensions bridges, then an 18-hole game at one of Pirate Island Golf’s several locations is just what the doctor -- or in this case, the pirate captain -- ordered.

Prehistoric Golf, Ocean City, Maryland

Prehistoric Golf

Craving a 'Jurassic Park'-like experience while you hit a few rounds? Then check out Prehistoric Golf, one of the many themed courses that are part of Ocean City's excellent Old Pro mini golf chain. When you get too hot from whacking balls underneath T-Rex, step inside for the equally detailed Undersea Adventure course. It's two mini golf adventures in one!

Smuggler’s Cove, Florida

Pirates and mini golf seem to go together. At least the people running Smugglers Cove mini golf courses, with several locations in Florida, seem to think so. Waterfalls, tropical scenery, hidden coves, pirate ships and real alligators (no joke) will keep you company as you try to sink that perfect shot. Of course, if you do happen to accidentally land a ball inside the gaping jaws of a gator, you should probably just leave it and play through.

Disney’s Winter Summerland, Orlando, Florida

If anyone can do miniature golf well, it has got to be Disney. The company’s Winter Summerland golf course combines two different miniature golfing experiences into one. You can play on the winter-themed course, or opt for the summertime course instead. Wintery Disney characters, as well as castles that look like icicles greet you in the former, while sand and sunny motifs guide you through the summertime course. A couple of rounds here is a great way to relax, and get ready for the other theme parks awaiting you in Orlando.

Lexington Ice Center, Kentucky

Lexington Ice Golf Course

If you’re into biblical stories, then you’ll appreciate the Lexington Ice Center mini golf course. You get to select what part of the Good Book you want to play on. There’s the Old Testament, New Testament and even the Miracle course to choose from. Jonah and the Whale, Mount Sinai and plenty of cascading waterfalls will escort you along your path.

Putting Edge Fun Center, Various Locations (USA and Canada)

Putting Edge Fun Center

There are quite a few Putting Edge Fun Centers spread out across the United States and Canada. When you want to play a round of miniature golf in the dark, there’s really no better place to go. Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to sink that perfect shot, even without a lot of light, because Putting Edge Fun Centers glow in the dark.

Volcano Island Mini Golf, Orlando, Florida

Let’s head back to Orlando for some more miniature golf. Apparently Volcano Island Mini Golf was under a state of disrepair for some time, but with new management, it as have livened up considerably. You can golf beneath an erupting volcano, and in the presence of waterfalls and tons of dinosaurs. If you’re in the mood for some real ‘volcanic’ fire and a challenging mini golf course, Volcano Island Mini Golf shouldn’t disappoint. Just be sure you watch out for that colossal brontosaurus!

Par-king Roller Coaster Golf, Illinois

Par-king Roll

For those of you who want to test your golfing skills, and tackle lots of inventive obstacles, you’ll be right at home at the Par-king Roller Coaster Golf. You’ll encounter a looping roller coaster hole, a mock-up of Chicago’s Sears Tower, a moving clown, water traps, bridges, the Statue of Liberty (a bit smaller than the original) and lots of other challenges to thwart your best putting attempts.

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