Do your kids love to play putt-putt golf?
Want an easy and fun activity to tee off with your family?
Make a mini-golf course at home.
Use everyday household items such as oatmeal containers, toys and stuffed animals to construct a whole course of miniature golf obstacles in your home or yard.
In this article I will show you how to design, construct and play on your own mini-golf course, which will lead to hours of golfing fun for your family! You can even print out scorecards to keep track of your golfers’ efforts.
Why Build a Mini-Golf Course?
A game of miniature golf is a fun way to spend time with the whole family. When you construct the course at home, you can play anytime!
Whether or not your family members are athletes, they’ll enjoy the challenge of designing and building a mini-golf course. It’s an activity that’s easy for kids, and entertaining for all ages.
Plus, everyone in your family will love the friendly competition that goes along with a rousing game of golf.
Golf is a sport where players hit a small ball with a club in an attempt to get it into a series of holes in the least number of shots.
Miniature golf focuses solely on the putting aspect of the game. It’s frequently 9 holes instead of the traditional 18. It’s made more fun by adding colored golf balls and outlandish obstacles, sometimes featuring moving pieces to challenge the golfers.
Check out this video of cool mini-golf trick shots.
Learn about golf’s Scottish roots, and the history of mini-golf.
Before you read the history of this fun mini sport, ask your family how they think it evolved. You can come up with both serious predictions and over-the-top embellishments. Write down your guesses, then read the history to see if you are anywhere near the truth.
If you don’t know a birdie from a bogie, take a look at this wonderful kid-friendly glossary of golf lingo from the Professional Golf Association (that’s real golf).
To learn how to play mini-golf, check out the rules at GolfLink.
Once everyone’s excited and on board, you can whip up a super-easy course in less than 30 minutes. Short on time? Just create a few holes (or even one) instead of a whole course of nine.
Got any engineering or creative types in your family? They may have as much fun creating intricate obstacles as actually playing the game. Some kids have been known to keep their course up and continue working on it for weeks. Others enjoy thinking of new traps and design a new course every week.
Whether a quick and simple putt-putt course is suited to your family, or they want to design something more elaborate, you’re sure to have lots of fun.
Set up your mini-golf course at home, a friend’s house or at a grandparent’s. Or have a neighborhood block party with a different hole at each house. Design the course, build it and play indoors or outside.
#1: Design Your Course
When you start to design your course, no idea is too crazy. Start by brainstorming ideas for your course. Take turns sharing thoughts. Also, talk about mini-golf courses you have played, which holes you enjoyed and why.
Draw pictures of initial course ideas and figure out ways to use stuff around the house to build them. You can go simple or intricate. Start with a small, easy course and build up from there.
Once you have some initial ideas, look around your house and gather anything and everything that will make your course more interesting. You’ll need containers a ball can fit through, items such as books that you can use for ramps and stuffed animals for décor.
You’ll also need nine plastic cups for the golf holes.
Below, find suggestions for three different mini-golf courses. The Putt-Putt Zoo and Over, Under, Around and Through courses require obstacles and décor, while the Driveway course is simple, quick and requires very little setup.
#2: Build Your Course
Here are three courses you can use for family mini-golf.
The First Course: Putt-Putt Zoo
Have you ever visited a real mini-golf course with a jungle theme? That was the inspiration for the Putt-Putt Zoo course. Here’s how to make your own.
Using masking or painter’s tape, secure the nine cups at various places around the room or rooms you’ve designated for the course. This is shown as an indoor course, but you can also set it up outside.
Now, place a stuffed animal, decorative animal or pieces from animal games at each hole.
To add a little zest to this course, before each turn, have your golfers make the noise of that animal, spell the name of the animal or share a fact about the animal. Or all of the above, depending on your kids’ ages.
For a more intricate course, cut a hole in the bottom of one cup and have the golfers send the ball through the “tunnel” to get to the final cup.
Want to add an extra element of fun or challenge? Reward your golfers with a piece of gum or small treat inside the cup at each hole for them to enjoy. Place a treasure hunt clue in each cup, indicating which hole to play next. Or how about a riddle or word problem to solve before moving on to the next hole?
The Putt-Putt Zoo is a simple starter course. Kids of all ages will be able to share their input and help with the setup.
The Second Course: Driveway Mini-Golf
The Driveway mini-golf course emphasizes accuracy. The putting becomes more difficult as distance increases. This is great practice for those who play or want to learn to play traditional golf.
Use chalk to write the numbers 1-9 about a foot and a half apart along the edge of your driveway, patio, or a broad sidewalk. Make sure the area is wide enough, so you can place each “hole” further back.
If you’re doing this on the lawn, write each number on a piece of paper, tape it on a skewer and stick it in the ground.
Next, tape a cup at each hole. Place the cup further back for each hole.
This provides excellent putting practice. See how many tries it takes for your golfers to get the ball in each hole, and record it on your scorecards.
Now that you’ve sharpened your putting skills with Driveway golf, move indoors for Over, Under, Around and Through!
The Third Course: Over, Under, Around and Through
Over, Under, Around and Through is the most ambitious course presented here. This is the one where you’ll put all of your household findings to good use.
For this course, let imaginations run free. Everybody should chip in with design ideas and building. Pair younger kids with older ones or parents. It’s fun to work on the different holes as a team.
The goal is to make each of the nine holes interesting. They should increase in difficulty as the course goes on.
For each hole, use painter’s tape to secure a plastic cup to serve as the hole. You can also use masking tape, but test it first on your floor to make sure it doesn’t leave sticky residue.
There are no limitations on what you can use. We looked through cabinets, closets and even our cedar chest full of musical instruments to get ideas. The following are instructions, which can be used as guidelines, based on the course we created.
Hole #1: Do you have a toy xylophone? Use a book as a ramp to lead up to musical chimes, so the ball rolls right over them.
The chimes act as a small obstacle and a nice audio embellishment for your mini-golf course. It’s always fun to add challenges that stimulate different senses.
In this video, you can see the shot and hear the chimes ring out!
Hole #2: Put the second hole in the kitchen. Use canned food as pillars, with boxed foods on top of them to construct obstacles with a foodie theme.
Hole #3: A footrest and an empty oatmeal container are simple obstacles to use for the third hole.
Use whatever you find around your home for the ball to go over, under, around or through.
Hole #4: A little décor can add some zest to your golf course. A cap gun or other toy can add an interesting look.
Hole #5: Use an empty soda carton to form a tunnel obstacle. It’s good to put an easy hole in the middle of the course to give golfers a boost of confidence.
Hole #6: After the midpoint, get creative and add some more complications. Cover a footstool with a yoga mat. Then place with a dishtowel underneath it to form a softly sloping ramp.
Hole #7: Use a toy racetrack to add a nice incline to hole seven.
If the hole is too difficult, it’s okay to adjust the design. That’s another benefit to creating your own course.
Regardless, this one may take a few extra tries to get the ball up the ramp and into the cup.
Hole #8: Add a musical hole to your course.
Tie thread through two toy tambourines and, using tape, secure them hanging from the seat of a chair. Put the tambourines in motion as the golfer goes to putt.
Watch as the golfer puts through the moving tambourines.
For your musical hole, almost any portable percussion instrument that makes noise with movement will do.
Hole #9: Go all out for the final hole. Stack multiple plastic cups to build an intricate obstacle.
Note: In our case this hole’s designer tried many times to stack the cups just so, leaving a small opening for hitting the ball through. Another golfer/designer refined the idea with a tower and tunnel, which was the adjustment it needed. Work together to make all the obstacles work.
The final challenge—a tower and a tunnel!
There are just recommendations. Use what you find in your home to create a variety of holes with interesting obstacles.
#3: Print Your Scorecard
Now that your course is set, print out this scorecard. You can also keep track with a pen and plain paper.
For each hole, record the number of putts it takes to get the ball in the cup. Or, you can simply check off each box after you play each hole.
Put one person in charge of the scorecard and take turns. Or give each player his or her own scorecard to keep track.
#4: Play Putt-Putt Golf
Get your golf game on and get started! Each time, you can play with a different course.
You can use real putters or plastic golf clubs. If your children are very young, instead of golf balls, use larger balls of any kind. Just alter the obstacles too!
It’s so much fun to come up with ideas for mini-golf courses. And it’s even more fun to play a course you design together as a family.
Some Final Thoughts…
Design, build and play on your own mini-golf course. It’s a great way to spend quality time with your kids. And it’s an excellent way to expand creativity and teamwork skills.
While you can make your mini-golf games competitive, there are ways to keep them less so. Focus on the fun of completing the course together.
No matter how you play it, mini-golf is a fun game you can play over and over. And make it different every time.
What do you think? Have you ever built your own mini-golf course? What ideas do you have for a mini-golf course design? What other themes can you use? What items would contribute toward making a fun course? Please share your ideas and pictures of your course in the comments!