The Crazy World of Minigolf Tour

The Crazy World of Minigolf Tour

Guest Blogger: Richard Gottfried

Champion Miniature Golfer Richard Gottfried and his wife Emily are on a tour of the UK’s minigolf and crazy golf courses. Richard discusses the crazy world of miniature golf and what the future holds for this popular activity.

The Crazy World of Minigolf Tour

Our travels around the country have seen us play all manner of miniature golf courses.

We love the variety on offer and have seen some really small courses, including a 4-hole course in Halifax, as well as some large minigolf centres, such as the superb 54-hole complex at Hastings Adventure Golf.

It’s always nice to hear about pop-up courses and we’ve travelled to a number of events just to have a game on a temporary layout.

The first portable crazy golf course we played was back in 2008. It was the 71st course played on our travels.

We’ve now been to 948 courses since September 2006.

Emily & Richard Gottfried
Richard Gottfried

So many fun uses

Since playing on that first portable course we’ve seen them appear at a number of places. We’ve played portable crazy golf courses in shops, banks, shopping centres, town centre streets and parks, at fetes and exhibitions, on bowling greens and at the seaside.

A few of the ‘temporary’ courses we’ve played have actually been portable courses that were installed for a season. Some of these have been as a replacement for an old minigolf layout, or as part of a festival or event.

It’s brilliant to see and play different minigolf courses and they have a number of uses. And they’re great to play indoors or out.

As well as being set-up for fetes, parties and weddings, portable courses are also used at business events and exhibitions, retail events as well as one-off promotions.

One of my best memories of playing a portable course was at the Oswestry Games. In 2012 the Shropshire town organised a ten-day festival of sport to celebrate the Olympic year and minigolf was included as an event. The pop-up course was a big success among visitors to the event, but it was an even sweeter experience for me as I won the competition they had organised on the 9-hole course.

A piece of minigolf history

Interestingly portable and temporary minigolf courses are not a new thing. The minigolf boom has seen the game played by millions of people in recent years, but it has been around for a long time.

The first miniature golf course in the world was The Himalayas Putting Course in St Andrews, Scotland which opened in 1867. Further grass putting courses were created in the late 1800’s and the first quarter of the 1900’s.

During this time additions were made to the putting courses to add more fun elements, with windmills, loop-di-loops, ramps and jumps introduced.

England’s first Crazy Golf course opened in Skegness in 1926 and there is still a semi-permanent course on the same spot on South Parade at the seaside resort.

We’ve collected a lot of old miniature golf postcards in the last decade and it’s always very interesting to see courses from years gone by. Some of those long-gone courses were actually what would now be described as ‘pop-ups’.

The Himalayas Course
Crazy Golf Postcard

What’s next?

With the ability to move, clean and adapt a portable course for multiple uses we look forward to playing more minigolf pop-ups in the future.

As portable minigolf courses can be configured in many layouts it enables people to create a wide variety, they can be easy or difficult, and wild & crazy courses for a game.

We’re looking forward to getting back out playing minigolf when it’s safe to do so. Before our travels were paused we had 40 courses left to go from the original 600 we set out to visit in 2006. We were also closing in on 1,000 course visits. I wonder how many on the road to 1,000 will be portable crazy golf courses?

Richard Gottfried blogs about minigolf and competitive leisure at the Ham & Egger Files. He is the author of The Minigolfer’s Guide to Marketing and curator of the Crazy Golf Museum.