Minigolf: golf’s cooler brother. A putting game with wacky obstacles and silly themes, minigolf is a great activity for all ages. The sport has become all the rage in the past few years, with minigolf bars opening all over, but is the Home of Golf missing out on the latest putting craze?
I was reminded of the magic of minigolf recently when I visited Golf Fang in Glasgow. The course had taken all the well-known classics of minigolf – windmills, loop-de-loops, etc. – and added a unique twist to each hole. From bouncy castle holes to arcade-style obstacles, the course had it all. Each hole was a new adventure. I believe the unadulterated fun I had is part of what makes mini golf so great. There is something very nostalgic about it all, with even the most serious of us awakening their inner child from hole one.
Minigolf also trumps golf in many ways. Golf is known as one of the most frustrating games to play; on the surface it looks easy, but the sport can evoke all sorts of anger in oneself. However, in minigolf, anyone can produce a Tiger Woods-esque performance. Personally, I have been known to walk off the course in blind rage, but let me loose at the crazy golf and I turn into Shooter McGavin. In the past few years, minigolf has skyrocketed in popularity too and is finding a more adult audience. Modern crazy golf courses are often paired with a tiki bar, and with neon themes and loud music, they definitely exude a clubbier feel. These venues have created a better social setting for young people and are making the sport cool again.
But is the Home of Golf really missing out on this craze? Some might say that St. Andrews has too much golf already, and I guess this is true. Our town is home to seven courses, including The Old Course: the most famous golf course in the world. Golf is part of St. Andrews’ identity and it would seem blasphemous to tarnish the town’s name with some ‘crazy golf’. The idea may hurt some of the purists but with a minigolf course, a new demographic could be introduced to the sport.
Golf, especially in St. Andrews, is often viewed as a prestigious sport for the middle classes and the elite, and many people are dissuaded from giving it a go due to this. The origin of minigolf can actually be traced back to The St. Andrews Ladies’ Putting Club, where The Himalayas can now be found. Although the hilly course has elements of modern minigolf, it is very golf oriented. The course is definitely a links green and not Astroturf; the greens run fast and can be very difficult for non-golfers. You are also required to bring your own clubs, something that is rather unaccommodating. Minigolf is a gateway to the sport, without all the rules and etiquette and The Himalayas is a perfect way to introduce newbies to the sport. Sadly, the putting club manages to maintain the stereotypical snooty golfer attitude that pervades St. Andrews. A good old putt-putt would solve this problem and there is no better place than the home of (mini)golf to have one.
St. Andrews is also very lacking in the entertainment department. In this small town, life can be monotonous. There are only so many walks around the town you can do and although going to the pub and union is fun, it is rather repetitive. We are missing a fun social setting that minigolf could provide. Business would boom if there was a minigolf venue in town. It would not need to even be a full 18 holes, but just a 9-hole course and a bar would go down a treat. The day-trippers and families would die for it. Students would be lining up to get in. And there would finally be a date spot in town that isn’t West Sands.
“Golf is like a love affair. If you don’t take it seriously, it’s no fun; if you do take it seriously, it breaks your heart”. St. Andrews takes great pride in its golf but with all the pride and heritage surrounding it, a little bit of minigolf may just bring a breath of fresh air to the sport and the town.