Navigating the Clown’s Mouth. The strategy of the Windmill. Surviving the Volcano hole.
If we are talking about clowns, windmills, and volcanos, we must be discussing how to play mini-golf.
Mini-golf may be a simple and fun family activity, but let’s be honest – you still want to win!
Plus, just because you are playing behind an 8-year old birthday party doesn’t mean there isn’t strategy involved in mini-golf.
Quite the opposite. With a few tricks up your sleeve, you can learn how to play mini-golf the right way and be sure to beat your friends (and kids!).
Below we cover our 6 tips on how to play mini-golf well. Who knows, maybe one day you will play in a professional mini-golf event!
Let’s get into the swing of it!
6 Tips On How To Play Mini-Golf
#1: Study The Hole
Each mini-golf hole is unique. Before you hit your first putt, always analyze the hole you are about to play.
Identify any penalty areas. Is it possible for your ball to roll into water or off the course?
What other obstacles exist on the hole? Do you need to avoid rocks, posts, or longer turf?
Finally, review the slopes on the hole. Look for swales in the green and longer turf (some mini-golf holes have sand traps as well).
Mini-golf holes are puzzles. They are designed to trick you or make you aim in the wrong place. If you can figure out the best way to play the hole before you hit a putt, your chances of scoring well on the hole improve.
Look for different angles or bounces that will lead your ball to the hole. There is typically one “right way” to play each hole.
Solve the puzzle before you make a putting stroke and you will perform well.
#2: Be Aggressive On Short Putts
Holes in one are fun! Everyone cheers and you might even be worthy of a Tiger Woods fist pump.
Enjoy those moments, but remember that learning how to play mini-golf is more about saving 2s. A 2 in mini-golf is always a good score.
The majority of mini-golf courses are made with smooth, artificial turf. The speed of the greens is typically quick and the roll of your ball will be consistent.
With this in mind, we recommend you make an aggressive putting stroke on your short putts. Pour them directly into the center of the hole.
Making a tentative stroke can cause your push, pull, or yip your putt.
Venus Williams said, “Just believe in yourself. Even if you don’t, pretend that you do and, at some point, you will.”
In fairness, she was probably talking about tennis, but we can pretend she was referencing how to play mini-golf.
Confidence is critical when you stand over short putts. This is true in both golf and mini-golf!
#3: BYOP (Bring Your Own Putter)
Yes, the mini-golf course will have putters for you to use. No, they will not be high quality.
Most mini-golf course putters have rubber heads and they may not have one that is the appropriate length for you.
Due to their lower quality, it can be quite challenging to hit consistent putts with these clubs. So instead, we recommend bringing your own putter from your golf bag. You might look a little eager, but hey, you’re there to win – right?
Related article: Golf Wedges Explained: How Many Should You Carry?
You are comfortable with your putter. You have used it plenty of times when you play golf. Why not bring it with you?
If you want to learn how to play mini-golf better, it starts with using better equipment.
We are confident the putter you use on the course is better than what you will find at the mini-golf course.
#4: Watch Others In Your Group
In tip #1 we talked about the importance of studying the hole – the best way to learn is to watch someone else try to play the hole.
If possible, watch a couple play it before you hit your putt. Pay attention to where they aim and how hard they hit their putt.
Did they execute the hole properly? Is there a better approach than the one they tried? Can you improve on their strategy?
If they hit well, try to think what it was that made their hit work and try to replicate it on your turn. If they hit badly, identify their mistakes and avoid making them yourself.
Learning how to play mini-golf is all about paying attention when it isn’t your turn. Learn from the good hits and mistakes of others.
#5: Take Full Relief From The Walls & Other Obstacles
The rules of mini-golf are a bit vague, and unfortunately, the USGA Rules of Golf don’t quite stretch to cover mini-golf.
There is one universal rule that is almost always played. If your ball ends up resting against a wall or obstacle you get free relief.
The rule is that you can move your ball one putter-head length from the obstacle. This allows you to make a putting backstroke.
Take advantage of this rule. Make sure you have a reasonable chance to stroke the ball before trying your next shot.
Mini-golf is hard enough without trying to hit a shot with a tiny backswing. Take your relief and roll that ball into the hole!
#6: It’s Mini-Golf – Don’t Take It Too Seriously
The most important part about learning how to play mini-golf is to enjoy yourself. Laugh at your bad shots and tease your competitors.
Mini-golf can be ridiculous. You can make a perfect putting stroke, but your ball catches the wrong slope, bounces off a plastic animal, and ends up in some water.
Don’t ever take your mini-golf score too seriously. If you start to get frustrated, just remind yourself that you are trying to hit the ball into a clown’s mouth.
You aren’t playing Augusta National, you are trying to roll a pink golf ball through a windmill. We promise that your mini-golf score will not impact your golf handicap! In fact, it often doesn’t say much about your golfing ability at all.
In other words, just have fun. Try to make as many holes in one as possible and enjoy the time with friends and family.
The odds are you will never make a career out of mini-golf! Don’t be the guy cursing on the mini-golf course and slamming their putter into the ground.
Mini-Golf: Bring Family & Friends
Mini-golf is not a way to practice your short game. What makes it great is that anyone can play – anyone can make a hole in one.
Take your crew to a mini-golf course near you and have a blast. You may not set the course record, but we guarantee plenty of laughs and smiles.
Teach your family and friends how to play mini-golf!
Related article: Kids Golf: 8 Steps To Teach Your Kids To Play And Love Golf