The crazy world of UK minigolf

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Guest Blog by Richard Gottfried.

Crazy Golf is booming and every week news comes in of a new minigolf course opening up somewhere in the UK.

Whereas Crazy Golf was – and to a large extent still is – a traditional seaside and summer holiday game, new minigolf venues are tapping into the public’s demand for new ways to be entertained. And Crazy Golf is a game that most people can easily pick up and play.

Splash Point Mini Golf by Emily Gottfried
Splash Point Mini Golf by Emily Gottfried

The game has changed massively since we first started playing and blogging about it in 2006. Back then there were two indoor courses, in Felixstowe and Great Yarmouth. Now, there are nearly 100 indoor places to play!

Recent new courses include Ghetto Golf in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Championship Mini Golf course at Clarkes Golf Centre in St Helens, Galaxy Quest Adventure Golf in Sunderland and the Mini Golf course at the Palace Fun Centre in Rhyl. There’s also a new indoor Mr Mulligans Adventure Golf centre opening in Basildon this month.

Minigolf is growing as a way to attract people, grab attention and have fun, with pop-up and portable courses increasingly found at exhibitions, fetes, weddings and promotional events.

England’s first-ever Crazy Golf course opened in Skegness in 1926 and the seaside resort now boasts ten miniature golf courses on the seafront, including the Atlantis Adventure Golf course which opened this year.

Minigolf has been played in Worthing’s Denton Gardens since July 1924 when two grass Putting courses were created. 95 years later and people are still enjoying the game there, with the 18-hole Splash Point Mini Golf course celebrating ten years of fun with its tricky course full of twists, turns, windmills, loop-di-loops and other obstacles to tackle.

Major inland towns and cities around the UK are finding themselves home to multiple venues, with London, Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle growing as hotbeds of Crazy Golf courses. Places such as Leicester, Derby, Glasgow, Belfast, Nottingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Leeds are also getting in on the action with multiple new places to play opening up this year.

The good news for minigolf fans is there are plenty of places to have some putting fun in the UK.

Glo-Golf at the Riverside Bowl, Andover
Glo-Golf at the Riverside Bowl, Andover by Emily Gottfried

Last month Emily and I made the landmark 900th course visit on our Crazy World of Minigolf Tour when we had a round at the North Bay Mini Golf course in Scarborough, North Yorkshire.

When our travels began back in September 2006 there were around 600 courses in the UK. We’ve now been to 862 courses in the British Isles and 39 overseas. The North Bay Crazy Golf course was the 520th we’ve played in the last 13 years as a number of courses we’ve visited have been closed, derelict, flooded or abandoned.

There are now more than 1,000 courses in the UK and as detailed here, an almost never-ending procession of new ones opening their doors. We’ve still got a few traditional Crazy Golf courses to visit, as well as a number of the new Adventure Golf courses and indoor minigolf bars to play.

It’s always really nice to find unique courses and the North Bay Crazy Golf course in Scarborough is that. There are some very good hole-in-one opportunities and a few tricky second putts on the colourful course. What was great to see was that the borders had felt on them that allowed skilful shots to be rewarded.

 Course-900-North-Bay-Crazy-Golf-in-Scarborough-by-RE-Gottfried
Course 900 – North Bay Crazy Golf, Scarborough

Our travels have taken us all over the UK and we love visiting new places, experiencing new things and meeting new people. It’s also interesting when we return to a place some years apart, as was the case with Scarborough. Apart from a brief visit to the North Bay and the one course that was there in 2009 we’d not explored the area.

It was brilliant chatting to the course owners. They’ve got a real passion for the game and have created a fun and challenging layout. They told us that the course record was a 20, but not many players get close to that. I was pleased to hear that as I’d had a round of 24. If the weather hadn’t gotten worse and if the day was longer I would’ve had another round or two to try and beat the record.

Since our 900th course visit our Crazy World of Minigolf Tour has continued to roll and we’re currently at 911 course visits.

Richard Gottfried blogs about minigolf at The Ham and Egger Files. He’s also the Curator of the Crazy Golf Museum and author of The Minigolfer’s Guide to Marketing.

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