There’s a lot to be said for the legacy of Cool Crest Miniature Golf, and part of that story is Delaware Punch, a virtually discontinued grape soda made with a blood purple fruit syrup. It’s an age-old “energy drink” with something like 5,000 calories of sugar. In the 1960s, the retro golf course, located on a hill that culminates at Fredericksburg Road, didn’t yet have its artisanal beer garden with its Betty Kolsch and food-truck barbecue, but they did have a soda fountain that mixed Delaware Punch.

The fountain fed the four Andry brothers – Mitchell, Philip, Albert and James – who sipped from it in the summer when they were boys at Central Catholic High School. Cool Crest was where their mother dropped them off for Saturday afternoon peace, and later when the boys had their first dates.

They lived just a mile down the road, but the Andry boys didn’t expect to own the site of their childhood antics. Yet, in 2013, the time had come and they loved him enough to keep him alive.

I felt the gravity of Cool Crest every time I drove down Fredericksburg Road. The art deco design and huge retro sign signaling the “world’s finest” mini-golf experience appeal to me. It’s not because I particularly care about mini-golf, but at 24, I think we can “find meaning in this strange life” by creating local myths and listening to truths spoken softly by places. oldest in our city.

Guess I’m guilty of turning San Antonio’s iconic institutions into temples.

Maria “Ria” Metzger and Harold Metzger owned and operated Cool Crest Miniature Golf in San Antonio for decades, beginning with Harold Metzger leasing the original site in 1937. Harold Metzger died in 1998 and Maria Metzger continued to run Cool Crest until around 2007. She died in 2010.
Courtesy of Cool Crest Mini Golf
Cool Crest has also been a staple in San Antonio for first dates.  Here is an unidentified couple at Cool Crest in 1965.
Cool Crest has also been a staple in San Antonio for first dates. Here is an unidentified couple at Cool Crest in 1965.
Courtesy of Cool Crest Mini Golf

Maria and Harold Metzger and a Cool Crest Date party

Back to the world of mini-golf

For the Andry family, and so many other San Antonians, Cool Crest has always been in the background of their lives. The place opened in 1929 in the throes of America’s pre-depression miniature golf craze. Many similar institutions have since disappeared. Today, Cool Crest is one of the oldest miniature golf courses in the country.

Cool Crest has been under the management of the Andrys for about 10 years. For five years prior, the place had been closed due to the declining health of former owner Maria Metzger.

Metzger and her husband Harold, a prominent local German-American businessman, had run the course since 1937. Under their leadership, the grounds were renovated and a second course was added. Maria then took over the business on her own after Harold’s death in 1998. Maria died in 2010.


“Each brother has a role”

I’m sitting with two of the Andry brothers, Phillip and Albert, under the same tin canopy that shaded wide-eyed teenagers with sweet highs. As we chat, the first guests of the evening begin to arrive. A dad in his 30s and his baby boy wearing a Black Dog Martha’s Vineyard shirt.

“We love this place,” the Andrys tell me. “There are people who have been coming here for 60, 70 years. I mean, that’s a lot of families.

The brothers seem to me to be in good spirits, I note later that they are the kind of brothers who kiss each other on the cheek before parting ways. You don’t see it much.

It’s Wednesday, the first day of June, and they’re telling me about their family’s connection to Cool Crest. Philip does a lot of maintenance and Albert does a lot of books.

“Each brother has a role,” jokes Philip, with a new crimson cut on the arm he has worked the land.

John Martinez, from left, Noah Bierwith, Anna Van Buskirk and Cassie Debolt play miniature golf at a UT Health Sciences Center party at Cool Crest Miniature Golf.

John Martinez, from left, Noah Bierwith, Anna Van Buskirk and Cassie Debolt play miniature golf at a UT Health Sciences Center party at Cool Crest Miniature Golf.


Ronald Cortes /Contributor
Carly Coburn and Jose DeLeon share a laugh after his ball returned to where it rolled during a Sunday game at Cool Crest Miniature Golf.

Carly Coburn and Jose DeLeon share a laugh after his ball returned to where it rolled during a Sunday game at Cool Crest Miniature Golf.


Ronald Cortes /Contributor

Customers play Cool Crest.

Finer Features

The brothers point out other park landmarks, including notable artwork by the late artist Dionicio Rodriguez, who died in 1955. Cool Crest also has a small bridge and a water feature. You’ll see Rodriguez’s iconic wood-inspired work across the city at other institutions like Japanese Tea Gardens.

The Andrys also show me a thumb note left by a visiting miniature golf enthusiast, a woman named Gretchen Smith.

“I will rate these courses on The Putting Penguin (a mini-golf rating website),” Smith scribbled. “It’s the best course I’ve ever played!”

I make a note to visit The Putting Penguin. But let’s get to the question. Granted, I ask, in the almost 10 years they’ve operated Cool Crest, they’ve witnessed a lot of appointments.

They immediately tell me about a group of three couples who came to putt in 2013, the first year they opened. Each pair had their first date at the golf course 50 years ago and were celebrating the anniversary. These days, you’ll see people on Tinder dates.

“For me, it’s one of the best things in the world to see a young couple having a good time,” says Phillip. “For me, it’s the ultimate.”

Cool Crest opened in 1929.

Cool Crest opened in 1929.

Camille Sauers/MySA

It’s easy to romance when Elvis plays

I get swept up in all the stories and quietly drift into this image of coming of age and ideal summer, ignoring the earthy aromas that emanate from a windblown drainage ditch. It’s easy to romanticize Cool Crest, especially with Elvis’ “Burning Love” playing over the speakers.

It also helps that the course has been lovingly preserved for over 90 years, painted in the original green and white with no garish updates to speak of. Officially designated historic sites enjoy great dignity. It’s quaint and clearly means a lot to people who grew up in this area of ​​San Antonio.

Over the past two years, the brothers have modernized Cool Crest just enough to stay relevant in a post-pandemic economy. They booked shows with musician Mitch Webb, brought in food vendors, and set up a craft beer garden named after the Metzgers. More locals started frequenting the place on the weekends for beer and music. Parents will buy a round or two of golf for their children while settling in to watch the musicians play. Business has been good.

Over the past year, the Andrys have also brought on manager Mario Castaño to oversee operations, as well as around seven Cool Crest employees, many of them local teenagers.

“They really are amazing people,” Castaño shares, detailing many of the kindness moments the Andrys have shown him and others. “There are so many good things to say about this place. The best part is really the community.”

Later, after a few beer samples in the Metzger Biergarden, I ask Castaño something that’s been on my mind since I walked in. It’s the overpowering, familiar smell of artificial fruit upon entry. I knew it couldn’t be Delaware Punch.

He quickly returned to reveal two copious jugs of the suspected substance I use to clean my floors – the purple Fabuloso. At Cool Crest, that’s what they use to clean pockmarked golf balls, Castaño says. It’s a nice touch of San Antonio.

Cool Crest is dog and family friendly and you can find it at 1402 Fredericksburg Road. Summer hours are Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday noon to 8 p.m., and Tuesday through Friday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.