Mini golf is one of life’s purest pursuits. Coaxing your ball into a hole surrounded by pirates and dinosaurs is entertaining, infuriating and endlessly captivating – just like its bigger cousin. And no-one knows more about the shortest format of the game than Richard Gottfried, a self-confessed mini-golf addict with more than 1,000 courses under his belt...
The Arnold Palmer Putting Course, Whitby
“I really like the Arnold Palmer putting courses that were built and designed back in the sixties. The most recent one was built in 1993, down in Bognor Regis. There’s not a lot of those left in the UK, but where they are, they're incredibly playable and it’s a real labour of love for the people that still run them.”
With a stiff North Sea breeze on your back and fish and chips waiting at the turn, the layout combines all the classic elements that make mini golf great – think windmills, plateaus, and glorious sea views.
St Andrews Ladies Putting Club: ‘The Himalayas’
“Everyone knows that St Andrews is the Home of Golf, and the Himalayas Putting Course is the world’s first miniature golf course. It was founded in 1867 and is still run today by the St Andrews Ladies Putting Club – it’s open to the public between April and September, but some tee-times are reserved for members, so don’t forget to check before you turn up."
Some 50,000 visitors a year take on the challenge of the ‘Himalayas’, as the hillocks and humps of the Ladies Putting Course are affectionally known. Situated right next to the hallowed turf of the Old Course, a knock around the Himalayas is an essential part of any pilgrimage to the Auld Grey Toon.
Jiggers Thorpeness, Suffolk
“Jiggers is a well-kept nine-holer attached to the Thorpeness Golf Club and Hotel, and features some lovely design details including a miniature version of the House in the Clouds, just a stone’s throw from the real thing next to the main golf course.”
The lovely little course at Thorpeness is tucked away behind the hotel on the banks of the Meare, an artificial boating lake featuring islands and channels named after locations in the Peter Pan stories. It’s a quintessentially English location, and a lovely place to spend a lazy summer afternoon.
“Back in 2006, there were two indoor courses in the entire country; one in Great Yarmouth, and the other in Felixstowe. Now crazy golf is booming, and with quality designs like the holes at Puttshack to keep punters coming back, I think it will continue to ride the wave for some time.”
Puttshack offers mini golf with no expense spared. Thirty-six holes to explore, ball tracking technology (no scorecards needed here) and a proper set up for food and drink means even the most reluctant participants will have a great time.
Filwood Fantastic Mini Golf Club - Knowle West, Bristol
“Filwood is a course that’s close to my heart – a great example of how the game can help bring communities together. The local community came together to build the course at their local community centre after the pandemic, and l was honoured to be invited to hit the first tee shot on opening day.”
Many of us resorted to building golf holes in the garden to cope with the boredom of lockdown, so this was a natural next step. And with green fees from just £1 a go, this is a version of the game that’s truly accessible to everyone.
Follow Richard Gottfried's Mini Golf Odyssey here.