Putt-Putt golf is often regarded as an activity for children’s birthday parties or something to do at a beach resort, but few are aware of the Putt-Putt culture and presence in Richmond. To find out more, a group of friends and I decided to play one Sunday afternoon at the Putt-Putt Fun Center in Midlothian, Virginia. There lie three separate 18 hole courses, one of which is home to just the third ever Putt-Putt perfect game, which was accomplished by Rick Baird back in 2011, according to the Professional Putters Association. After hearing of this historical event of 18 hole-in-ones, it became apparent that this course is more than just a place for eight-year olds’ birthday parties.
Most of the holes can be deceptively difficult and even frustrating, but as the name would suggest, the course still provides plenty of fun for a group. At the welcoming desk they offer scorecards and several different color options for balls and clubs, which we took advantage of as we split into smaller teams to compete with one another.
While there were no gargantuan, pink painted animal figures or holes being blocked by miniature windmills, as would be found at Patterson Golf and Sports Park, this course wraps around some small ponds and through a “cave” towards the end. Different from typical mini-golf courses, this course is recognized as an “official” Putt-Putt course. Several of the holes presented awkward angles and obstacles to try and avoid, which were by no means easy, but surprisingly as a group we had several hole-in-ones of our own on the day. Anne Miller (‘16) says, “It was fun because there were lots of obstacles, but also lots of other activities to take part in with friends.”
As we slowly made our way through the 18-hole course, it seemed to slightly increase in difficulty around holes nine and ten. At this point, while some of us continued to meticulously focus on perfecting the basic putting stroke, the rest of us found enjoyment in trying new silly techniques and approaches. These included backwards, no-look shots, between the legs, flop shots, and even curling methods. At hole 17 in particular, Charlie Tolleson (‘16) resorted to the curling shot style to successfully get through the infamous “cave.” This style includes rolling the ball forward with backspin, while using flankers on either side to brush and flatten the artificial grass with the backs of their clubs. This is just one example of the difficult holes that proved to be fun for golfers of all levels from the group. Ben Greer (‘16) said of the course, “It’s a perfect course for someone who shoots a 33, like me, or even a 50, like Kelsey. Either way, you are guaranteed a fun time.”
As a bonus, the receptionist at the desk where you collect your clubs and balls will periodically announce prizes for hole-in-ones. These prizes depend on the color of the ball you are using. If you are fortunate enough to get a hole in one with the color that is announced, you receive a scratch off card that can win you free games or attractions.
Although we only took part in the miniature golf, it should be noted that there are several fun accompanying attractions at the Putt-Putt Fun Center. In addition to the two 18-hole courses, the grounds include a go-cart track, a “wet zone” with bumper boats, and an inside area with pizza and an arcade, which we took advantage of during a brief rain shower. The cost for everything was a little expensive, considering we were only there for the Putt-Putt, but would be more than reasonable for people who want to try multiple attractions. Putt-Putt Fun Center offers tickets for one, two, or three attractions at $7, $11, and $14, respectively. They also offer two group rates: one that includes two attractions for $8.00 per person, and one that includes two attractions, drinks, and pizza for $12.50 per person.
Most of these additional attractions are focused on younger children and parties, but the tough Putt-Putt course and even the go-carts can be fun for people of all ages. Dalton Ruh (‘16) said, “The Putt-Putt Fun Center definitely lives up to its name. While most Putt-Putt places only specialize in Putt-Putt, I can certainly say this place specializes in fun. The courses were fun and challenging, and I was also given the option to hang out in the arcade, ride some go-carts, or drive some bumper boats. Overall, if you are looking for fun, the Putt-Putt Fun Center is the place to be.”
The Putt-Putt Fun Center can serve all audiences and be perfect for a group that just wants to have fun, or for individuals who consider themselves “hardcore” mini-golfers.
All photos by John Hazelton.