How to win at minigolf: tips and techniques

Win win win with these minigolf tips!

How to win at minigolf and crazy golf
This ball is going in the cup. I will win. I cannot be beaten. You’ll never take me alive, mwahahahaha etc.

There comes a point in every minigolfer’s life when whacking the ball around and hoping for the best is no longer enough. As you’re lining up a shot it suddenly enters your head that luck has very little part in this. You realise that everything can be controlled: stance, eyeline, ball speed, angle and bounce. You start to think technically and plan your ball’s path to the cup as carefully as a pilot flying a plane in to land. This moment of revelation is when the sport first hooks you, and before you know it the last thing you think of before falling asleep is holing out with a magnificent, perfectly-weighted bank shot for a round of 23. It’s usually around the time you buy your own putter and start spending a lot of time in Whitby.

You have two choices at this point: seek professional help, or improve your game to make your dreams a reality. Possibly both, but we’re interested in the second bit: improving your game. We’ve gathered together a smorgasbord of tips for the aspiring minigolfer, with a view to knocking your score card into shape and starting to win. So here we go.

Get a putter that fits you.

The top of a correctly-sized putter should reach to your belt, and your hands should be in the middle of the grip. This will help you to get a comfortable and repeatable stance. Putterfingers stock a range of sizes for adults and children.

 

putter size adult children
Get the right tool for the job

Walk the course before you start and take notes.

Top players have notebooks in which they record the details of every hole and their strategy for playing it. So make a habit of this when practicing on unfamiliar courses, and before tournaments. Walk each hole and note any obstacles, imperfections in the surface, cracked edges, and any other oddities that could affect the ball. Take note of water features and variations in elevation that will affect the ball’s trajectory. If it’s allowed, play some test strokes to gauge the speed of the surface.

Ball speed is everything.

Train yourself to hit the ball with a precisely measured amount of force. On a straight and level green, practice putting to a marked point four feet away until the ball stops on or very near it every time. Move up to six, eight and ten-foot putts until you can place the ball on a sixpence at a variety of ranges. Master this before experimenting with how balls break on curvy surfaces at different speeds – the faster, the less break. As a rule of thumb, though, it’s better to hit a ball a bit too hard than too tentatively and weakly, because the priority is to get close to the hole with your tee shot and the ball can bounce back towards the hole from the walls. And weak shots will deviate more on ramps and curves, which can take you towards hazards and cost you shots. Be positive and firm, but get the ball speed right.

How to win at crazy golf
Ball speed control will lead to better scores

Watch your opponents’ shots. Then win.

Unless you’re up first, you can glean valuable information on bounce strength, angles and speed from watching your opponents play their shots. This can help you to make adjustments – or copy what they did if it went well! Watching how the ball behaves when close to the hole can help you to plan your shot with precision.

Focus on form and technique, not scores.

If you are tied for the lead and terrified of dropping a shot, or in any other pressure situation in minigolf, it won’t help you to worry and stress about missing. Why? Because it’s a sure-fire way to make you miss!

If you have practised enough, you will know how to strike a ball towards a hole. Any mental distractions from this ‘muscle memory’ skill will make you change something in an attempt to hit an ‘extra-good’ putt. So tune out everything including the score and your opponents, and trust your putting technique, with nothing but the present shot in mind. Some players say ‘practice as if you were competing, and compete as if you were practicing’.

How to win at crazy golf
Don’t let the occasion get to you at tournaments. Play as if you were practicing. Yeah, it’s easier said than done – but it works!

Win with positive self-talk.

Don’t think about missing. Only think about sinking the ball. In fact, don’t think at all. Just focus, visualise the ball falling into the cup, and trust your subconscious mind to execute the shot perfectly (this comes after a lot of practice). See yourself as already having reached your goal, even if it sounds ridiculous to your conscious mind, because your subconscious will eventually believe it. Maybe something like ‘I am British minigolf champion. I score really low every time I play because I have a knack for finding the right ball path. I’m just an awesome shot. I’m fully prepared and mentally calm. It’s normal for me to win. I shoot more aces than anybody else’, etc.

To inspire you, here’s an excellent little video telling the story of a perfect 18 at Putt-Putt scored in 2011 in America. Now that was a win!

Minigolf technique: finding your groove

Minigolf can be a carefree day out, a serious obsession, or anything in between. Where do you lie on this scale? Have you played a few times and started to hanker after a better score? Or are you already impressing your friends and wanting to improve your technique to shave a few more strokes off your rounds?

Here are some general suggestions on minigolf technique. We should start out by saying that there is no one-size-fits-all set of instructions on how to putt successfully. The beauty of the game is that different players will grow into a style that works for them, and each player looks a bit different as they putt. But there are some basics that apply to everyone, and this Mr Bean-style video covers a few of them. Actually rule number one should be ‘don’t dress like him’.

So, bring your own putter if you have one because you’ll be more used to it.

Walk the course before you start and check out any imperfections in the edges or putting surface that might affect your shot. Walking it also gives you a better idea of distance.

Observe the timing of moving obstacles (if any) to help you time your shot just right.

Focus. Tune out all distractions.

Hit the ball just hard enough to get the desired effect, no harder.

Now for actual putting technique.

The backhand grip is the most common grip used by pro minigolfers. If you are right handed, your right hand is above your left hand on the grip of the putter. It gives firm control of the putter and requires less movement of the upper body when playing a shot. Not every minigolfer uses this grip but some pro ‘big’ golfers have stated that they wish they had started out with it rather than the forehand grip.

Experiment with how far apart you place your hands on the putter grip. It will affect how much force you can easily get into a shot. If playing on beton or eternite, less force is needed so you might have your hands closer together. If playing on felt or astrograss, especially on long holes, you are likely to need more leverage to get the required power, so move your lower hand further down the grip.

Stance is very important too. It is a balance between stability and upper body movement. The feet should be no less than 30cm apart. Any closer together and you are sacrificing stability. Many good minigolfers will adopt a much wider stance than this, which is great for stability but allows less ‘pendulum’ effect of the upper body, so the arm muscles are more involved in the shot. It is generally easier to play gentle shots accurately with a wider stance since you are not swinging your whole body at the ball. Bend your knees a little, but not so much that your legs get tired. Keep your heels on the ground throughout the shot so as to preserve the solid base of your chosen stance.

minigolf technique, putting technique, improve your minigolf scores
Keep your heels on the ground!

The head of your putter should be at 90 degrees to the intended direction of travel of the ball and the head should rest horizontally on the putting surface when you are sighting. Find a putter that fits your stance to achieve this. There are also putters with adjustable-angle heads to help you address the ball perfectly.

So there are a few pointers on technique. Apart from that, it’s practice, practice, practice!

For all your putting equipment and minigolf hire needs, visit www.putterfingers.co.uk