If golf is a gentleman's game then miniature golf must be the game for the rest of us. Here's how to navigate your way through the windmills and waterfalls to become master of the mini links.
Step 1: Study the course layout. Pick up a scorecard, which will give you the pars for each hole, and walk the course. Note the obstacles and hole placements on each green so you won't be surprised later.
Step 2: When you're dealing with short distances, speed control is everything. Take plenty of practice putts before playing a round with a group to determine whether the turf is slow or fast, and how hard you have to hit the ball.
TIP: Bring your own putter to avoid using an unfamiliar club. The putters courses provide are often too short, too tall, or in poor condition.
Step 3: Take time to read the rules on the scorecard. Know the stroke limit for each hole, and how far you're allowed to reposition your ball when it's pinned against a barrier. Learning the rules can actually help you shave strokes off your score.
Step 4: When it's your turn, take into account the position of the hole, the distance to the hole, and line up your shot. Most courses let you place your ball anywhere within a designated tee-off area, so find the position that gives you the best angle. Look for direct routes that skip the water hazards and moving obstacles, and consider bank shots off barriers.
TIP: If there are unavoidable moving obstacles on the hole, watch them for as long as you need to learn their patterns and get the timing down.
Step 5: Tune out distractions like noisy children, pesky mosquitoes, and disturbing fiberglass animals, and focus on your shot. Grip the putter securely and square up the club head, then stand tall and swing from the shoulders, not the wrist.
TIP: Putting too hard can send your ball in all sorts of crazy directions. Use a nice, light touch that will leave you in a good position for your next shot.
Step 6: The last hole is usually a skill shot without a second chance, so go for the hole-in-one. With a little planning, practice, and concentration, you'll win a free game every time.
FACT: During mini golf's heyday in the 1930s, there were more than 30,000 courses in the U.S., with over 150 rooftop courses in New York City alone.