Miniature golf is famous for challenging players to hit balls through windmills, but it can be even harder to play a nice round with your kids. Putt-putt can test children’s patience and dexterity, and more than once I’ve witnessed scenes full of parents warning children that “No, you’re not okay” or “Here, let me show- you are new ”. While some of these comments might have been welcome or helpful, it was obvious that a steady stream of them created frustration for parents and children.
There are two courses at Disney World and a Google search for minigolf in Orlando finds 12 more, so there’s a decent chance you can try your family’s Florida vacation. These are my best tips to have fun and so play them again next time.
Find out before you leave
Different courses can be very different experiences, and not just in hole design. It’s not essential, but a quick review of the reviews of a course you plan to visit can help you avoid the busiest times or know how to make an evening visit in the summer if the course has little shade. If many comments say that greens are not well maintained or that it is difficult to keep the balls on the course, it may not be the best option for children. Whether you’ve researched in advance or not, don’t be afraid to leave a few holes unplayed if you find the course not fun for you.
Security and courtesy
We start a debate about rules with things that aren’t fun. Much of the rest of what I’ll tell you will be about modifying or disregarding standard rules that don’t work, but there are some places where it’s worth staying firm.
There is no “just one more attempt.” Most routes have a hole limit per hole, usually five or six strokes. This is not only to prevent your game from becoming a marathon experience with your kids getting bored in the middle, but also to prevent other players from having to wait … and wait … and wait. .. while they follow you during the course.
Do not rotate the putter. I don’t know if it’s human nature, but it seems like kids holding a putter that they don’t use on a ball at the time have a tendency to spin it. Unfortunately, that means a lot of unwanted connections between the putter and the greens, the walls and the fences, not to mention the other players ’ball joints. To prevent damage to and around the putters, our family rule was that the putter’s head could not be higher than the knees, and that several infractions could result in having to sit in the next hole.
Rules? What rules?
Many courses have a posted sign, or perhaps an area at the back of the dashboard, where the rules appear. Does this mean that these are the rules you must follow with you and your family? I will borrow from our famous blogger Saturday Six: Nay Nay. Mini golf is one of my family’s basic vacation activities, and here are a number of “additional” rules we’ve used over the years to bridge the gap between our desire to play and our children’s willingness to play in the style of adults.
1. Children are allowed to use their hands, including collecting the ball and placing it in the cup. I already talked about the six-time limit; children who use the six strokes routinely and still can’t get it can get pretty frustrated. This frustration usually doesn’t come from the highest score, but from having failed to “end up” getting it in the cup. Putting the ball in the hole with your hands after six strokes is often all it takes to make everyone happy. But not only have the children taken six blows; some kids just “make” the hole after two or three strokes and want to put the ball in and move on. Some kids want to push it with their hands if it’s close enough, to avoid this painful experience of taking the short putt and seeing it totally lost.
2. Children can touch the balls again before they stop rolling. I don’t know why some kids are so in love with playing polo style, but as long as they’re willing to agree that every time he hits the ball he counts to the six-time limit, is it worth discussing? For kids who don’t use this mode by default, it can still help them get to the green of the holes where it’s on top of a steep hill or the ball tends to go back up to the tee.
3. Children can grab an adult’s t-shirt. This is another great option for kids who have trouble getting to the green. An adult shoots the green and the child places the ball near where the shot ended. Here are some fun opportunities to play as a creative team if you have the same number of kids and adults.
4. Children (and adults) can play the whole hole directly. The standard game is for everyone to touch the green and then everyone puts on. We’ve often found that it’s faster for everyone to play through the whole hole one by one. One advantage is that if the route is not full, part of the group can advance to the next hole and everyone waits less. If there are two adults, we like to do one and the other.
5. Children receive one repetition, one per hole. Sometimes it’s about where the ball ended up. He was two inches from the hole, he looked like an easy putt, and somehow things went wrong. It is now two meters away and there is a danger of being torn off by the water. Let them put it back on and try again. As children grow and are more capable, you can change that to a fixed number of shots for the entire course instead of one per hole.
6. Children can tell you their score. No, I’m not talking about whether they can open their mouths and utter the word “four,” I mean yes it will literally tell you what to type in the dashboard. I mean, really, they touched the ball a second time while it was still rolling toward the green, they did a free repeat after they ended up on the wrong side of the rock, and they finally touched it with their foot. Winning and losing no longer makes sense, as they have skipped hole 5 after hitting the bench at hole 4 twice with their putter. If they mean they have a two in this hole, you will really argue with them about it number? Many children are happy to do without scoring completely, but for those who want to be like adults and write down their scores, all they have to do is compose them.
Moving on to Grownup Play
We used all of the above rules when my kids were younger, but now that they’re teenagers they play like regular adults. So how do you get from here to there? An obvious approach is to set an age limit, but we adopted a different tactic: bribe. Our rule was: if you managed to beat the mom, you would get extra coverage for your post-game ice cream, but you had to play straight to win it, using (mostly) the same rules as the mom. We still gave them a handicap to make the smoothies fair, but this strategy gave them control over when they felt able to play as an adult.
Have you played minigolf with kids? How do you make it fun? Let us know in the comments.