Mini-Golf Tips from a Putt-Putt Pro
A game generally reserved for double dates and family outings, you might not think there's a lot of finesse involved in mini-golf. But there's more to the game than meets the eye, which is why we turned to mini-golf pro Brad Lebo—yes, there is such a thing—to learn some mini-golf tips.
When you're learning how to play mini golf, Lebo should be your go-to guy. He has four national championships to his name, plus a coveted green jacket from the mini-golf Master's. During peak times, he travels to two, often three tournaments a weekend, so he's picked up a fair supply of putt-putt tips along the way.
1. Know the difference between Putt-Putt and mini golf.
Our mini golf tips start before you even hit the greens. First things, first: are you at Putt-Putt or a miniature golf course? There's a big strategic difference between the two styles, one that has an impact on how you approach the game.
- Putt-Putt courses are designed for low-scoring games with a lot of holes-in-one.
- Miniature golf courses incorporate wildly creative design features and lots of obstacles, so players are often trying to make the hole in a baseline of two shots.
Knowing this difference before you get started will help you strategize your approach to each hole. For example, you'd be less inclined to try—and fail—to shoot the ball under the T-rex's legs and through Windmill in a single shot.
2. Pick the right mini-golf putter.
How do you know you're using the correct putter? When you get into position, the top of the putter should hit you at about belt level, with your hands positioned near the middle of the grip. Have your own putter? Bring it. Lebo always does.
3. Take stock before you start.
Before the first hole, take a walk around and get a feel for the lay of the land. Are there any water traps? Slopes? "Balls generally will tend to break toward bodies of water and towards any dropoffs in the elevation of the land," Lebo says.
To figure out how to play mini golf, one of the easiest things you can do is walk from the tee to the cup. This will help you note any obstacles, uneven surfaces, or other hazards. Take a look at the border, too; if you want to bounce the ball off an edge, you'll want to avoid any uneven spots or gaps when you aim.
4. Pick a target.
One of the best tips for learning how to win at mini golf is to pick a very precise aiming spot. This will boost your accuracy—but Lebo says you're not always aiming for a hole-in-one. Remember, as we said at the beginning, many mini-golf holes are designed to take you at least two strokes. So choose a very specific spot, whether it's a scuff on the ground or a nick in the bricks. Draw a mental line from your ball to that spot.
5. Set yourself up for success.
When you step up to the tee, your feet should be aligned with that mental line you've just envisioned. Keep the ball lined up with the inside edge of your forward foot (that will be the left foot if you're right-handed, or the right foot if you're left-handed). From here, your eyeline is crucial—direct your eyes right over that imaginary line.
6. Watch your speed.
Before you start, try some test shots to get a feel for how fast the ball travels. If there's not a practice green available, then just pay close attention on your first few holes. Cut off your putt as soon as the ball starts moving. Depending on the surface, speed can vary widely from course to course—so what worked for you at Pirate's Cove may not work at Lost Sock Mountain.