Making a trip to the local mini golf course might seem like nothing more than a fun family outing – but could it also be valuable for golfers in improving their putting? Or might it do more harm than good?
Playing a round of mini golf offers some great improvement opportunities for golfers, as well as posing some challenges for the serious golfer.
How mini golf can improve your putting
While hitting putts through tunnels, around obstacles and over bridges might seem to have very little in common with the way you play on a golfing green, a lot of the skills are transferrable. Playing mini golf can help you hone some valuable skills that you can apply to your regular game of golf.
Successfully navigating all those obstacles on the mini golf course requires quite a bit of strategy. You’ll need to analyse the slope and speed of the green, your angle of attack and the best path around the obstacles. Coming up with a plan to ricochet your ball off a bridge, around a flagpole and through a miniature castle will engage your brain as you decide on your direction, line, speed and tempo. You’ll also need to ensure you hit the ball cleanly with good contact and that you follow through on the strategy you’ve planned out.
Regularly playing mini golf can help you become a better analyst of the slope, position and speed of regular golf greens, thus improving your putting. You’ll be using skills like visualisation and imagination to read the break of the greens, and developing these skills will definitely help your putting prowess. You’re also likely to get better at strategizing for your long game as well.
Mini golf will also help with developing better distance perception and control, as well as your hand-eye coordination. Having to constantly play putts may also help you to concentrate on your putts better when it comes to the regular game. Learning to analyse the green and control your putt better will only help when you go back to playing a round of golf. Playing mini golf can help putting to become more of a focus and not just an afterthought that often doesn’t receive our full attention.
It’s also advised that you should practice like you’re playing in game-like situations, in order to simulate the pressure of a real game. This can be hard when you’re practicing on the range or the practice green, as there’s not much pressure in that kind of situation. Mini golf can help simulate the pressure of a real game, and allow you to practice your putts under more pressure than a simple practice session allows.
For more on how to practice like you’re playing, see this short video.
How mini golf might harm your putting
Serious golfers sometimes worry that playing mini golf might mess up their form or harm their regular game – and this worry has some foundation in truth.
The conditions on a mini golf course are quite different to those you’ll find on a real golf course, and don’t come close to replicating the conditions on a regular golf green. The speed of artificial turf is very different to real grass. The quality of the cheap putters and balls you’ll find at mini golf courses is much poorer than your average putter and regular golf balls. Plus, a mini golf club is weighted quite differently than your putter.
All these differences might mean that you’ll have to make some adjustments to your technique when playing the two different forms of golf. The danger lies in the changes you might have to make (sometimes without noticing) to your rhythm, pace, swing and read. Before you know it, your regular putts might be going all over the place when you get back to the golf course.
However, as long as you’re aware that you’ll have to make some adjustments, you should be able to do so without too many problems. To counter any changes in technique that may have been caused by playing mini golf, make sure you do some practice putts on the greens at your golf course before you play your round. This will help re-set your putt to match real golf course conditions.
Another option is to take your regular putter and golf balls to the mini golf course, and play with them there, so that you don’t have to change your technique as much.
The upshot is that as long as playing mini golf is not your only putting practice session, it’s unlikely to do too much harm to your game. If you recognise them as two different forms of the game, and make adjustments accordingly, you should be able to translate your game from one form to the other. As well, make sure you’re regularly practicing your putting on the regular green. It works both ways too – the better you get at putting on the golf course, the better you’ll be at mini golf! Just be aware of your technique and try and apply some of the skills you’ll gain from mini golf to your regular game. When you boil it down, your game of golf will benefit from any practice – even mini golf. Plus, it’s just plain fun.
To find out more about how to take your putting to the next level, click here.