Originating 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.
Minigolf 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.
Minigolf 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."
Minigolf 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.
Starting 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.
Adventure-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.
People 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
The 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,"
"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."
In 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.
The 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."
"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."
Chandler 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."
Minigolf 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."
The 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
A company that specializes in pre-fabricated indoor/outdoor minigolf
Miniature Golf Directory
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