Minigolf Information

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dotOriginating in the 1920s, miniature golf has withstood fads that have come and gone. The sport has grown to new heights.

When people think of minigolf, a game of windmills, concrete animals and other obstacles often comes to mind. Today, minigolfers are playing with real putters on natural grass courses while navigating around water hazards and sand traps -- just like golfers on a "real" golf course.

dotMinigolf is played on skill-based courses where a low score is achieved through pinpoint putting accuracy. The record single-round score is a perfect 18 -- an ace at every hole.

dotMinigolf provides an inexpensive form of recreational activity. It is a sport that families can enjoy together.

Husband and wife Jennifer Chandler and Stephen Plourde of Westbrook, Massachusetts, have been minigolfing together for about three years.

"We enjoy this activity because it gets us away from doing boring house stuff," Chandler says. "We both like to travel, see new things and meet new people. Minigolf course owners are very nice."

dotMinigolf offers the player many of the challenges of real golf. Newer courses, often surrounded by streams, waterfalls, fountains and rock sculpturing, provide a park-like setting for anyone to enjoy.

Tournament-approved courses feature daunting obstacles to negotiate, a smooth felt or concrete putting surface and a continuous raised perimeter border to allow calculated rebound shots to be played.

dotStarting in the 1980s, adventure-style courses became popular. Many adventure courses were built in tourist destination areas such as Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, which today is the miniature golf capital of the world.

In Myrtle Beach, there are as many as 45 courses within a 20-mile radius. The number of tourists swells to more than 12 million to support these minigolf facilities. This same growth can be seen in Florida.

dotAdventure-style courses sparked the start of what is commonly called the family entertainment center or FEC, which originated in California. These centres offer customers minigolf, as well as arcades, eating areas, party rooms and other activities.

Minigolf country club-designed courses also are attracting more interest. Though not as popular as FECs and adventure courses, stand-alone minigolf courses are still available, especially in rural areas.

dotPeople from all walks of life, age and ability can play minigolf. Wheelchair access varies from course to course. "You don't need to be fit to take part, but you do need to be committed and practice if you want to succeed at the highest level," says Peter Parr. He is the founder and chairman of the British Minigolf Association.

dotThe minigolf courses in mainland Europe are different from those found in the U.S. and Canada. "Each of these WMF-approved [World Minigolfsport Federation] courses have been specifically designed to reward pinpoint putting accuracy," says Parr.

"On the 'Eternit' course, an ace is possible at every hole -- indeed, the world record score is a perfect 18. Also, the playing surface is smooth concrete, rather than felt."

dotIn the United Kingdom and worldwide, minigolf continues to grow in popularity. WMF is the world sanctioning body for players clubs and their facilities. The WMF World Championship is held every other year all over the world.

The U.S. ProMiniGolf Association recognizes and sanctions a national championship held in Myrtle Beach each September.

The association is working to set up local, state and regional tournaments in as many different states as possible. Having minigolf played at the World Games or the Olympics is another goal of the U.S. ProMiniGolf Association.

Getting Started

dotThe sport does not require any special training or physical abilities.

"If you want to play competitively, turn up at the course a day or two before a tournament," Parr says. "Watch the top players in action, study their lines and learn from what they do. Take your time over the shots. It's all about concentration and precision. But above all, enjoy it."

dot"My advice on minigolfing is this: get up early," says Chandler.

"Most courses are empty during the morning. Courses tend to get jammed during the afternoon. If we are on an empty course, we can play 18 holes in about 25 minutes. It gets to be a drag when the courses are overcrowded and you have to wait and wait. We have gotten stuck for an hour and a half at courses late in the afternoon."

dotChandler also has tips on where to find courses. "The Internet is a great resource on finding courses. Be forewarned that some courses listed on the Internet are closed," she says.

"We have driven miles in the wrong direction before only to get to the listed course and find a broken down mess. I have also found courses by searching under golf driving ranges."

dotMinigolf is generally an inexpensive form of recreation. "Costs vary. We have been to great courses that cost $3 to play, and we have been to not great courses that cost $7 to play," Chandler says. "On average, most courses charge around $5 for 18 holes."

dotThe only equipment you need is a putter and ball. Those can typically be rented at the minigolf site, as part of the course fee. Some minigolfers like having their own putters, which vary in price.

Those playing on the European-style courses will need to purchase special minigolf equipment, including balls with different rebound properties and a putter, Parr says. The special minigolf balls cost about $10 to $15 each.


U.S. ProMiniGolf Association (USPMGA)
c/o Hawaiian Rumble
3210 Hwy. 17-N
N. Myrtle Beach , SC   29582


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