Mini Golf Is NOT Real Golf, or IS It?
Mini golf often gets a bad rap as a dumbed down version of its bigger brother. It is viewed as something for parents to do with their small child or as an activity for a date night. Mini golf is not, however, viewed by many as something that can be taken seriously.Image Source: americanprofile.com
There is actually a professional mini golf association, believe it or not. While most people may view mini golf as just a silly, little game, others take it very, very seriously. Below are the similarities and differences between mini golf and real golf, as well as how professional mini golfers compare to professionals of the actual game.
The main difference between the two games is the sheer amount of distance to the hole. A typical par 4 golf hole, for example, is 250-470 yards in length. A mini golf hole, on the other hand, is usually only a few yards in length. This means that while the mini golf hole only requires a putter, a real golf hole requires clubs that allow you to hit the ball a much farther distance.
Aside from this major difference, the two games are actually quite similar. In terms of either a real golf shot or a mini golf putt, strategy and planning are both key aspects of a successful shot. Let’s envision a tee shot on a par 4 hole. A pond 100 yards in front of you requires you to hit your ball over it to avoid a penalty.
Mini golf requires the same type of strategic thinking, as there are often obstacles obstructing a straight path to the hole. Instead of hitting the ball over the obstacle, however, you may have yo do something such as hitting the ball around the obstacle.
Another major similarity between the two games is the act of putting. In both games, the main objective is to get the ball into the hole
putting in as few shots as possible. In the game of real golf, the final shot of every hole is a put, as is the same with mini golf. From this perspective, mini golf can be viewed as a scaled down version of the actual game. This leads us to the realization that while mini golf may not be quite as technically complex, the strategy and objective are both largely the same as they are with mini golf’s bigger brother.
Since mini golf follows the same basic principles, an argument can be made that mini golf can actually correlate with more success on a full sized golf course. By first playing on a scaled down surface, a basic understanding of golf strategy can be gained. While you can’t learn how to bomb a drive down the fairway or hit a perfect recovery shot out of the sand, mini golf can still teach you the core fundamentals of the game.
Some professional mini golfers will actually argue that mini golf is just as difficult to master as its much larger counterpart. Professional mini golfers play a variation of mini golf known as putt putt, which is essentially mini golf without large obstacles such as windmills. This gives them the opportunity to score a hole in one on every single hole, which the best of the bunch can really accomplish. This is a feat that no real golfer can claim, no matter how good of a round they have had.
Despite this, mini golf professionals most likely cannot immediately translate their success on the putt putt course to their success on the links. Real golfers on the other hand will have a much easier time mastering the art of mini golf, as the scale of their playing field decreases in comparison.
This doesn’t stop the best putt putt players in the world from competing in the US ProMiniGolf Association, also known as the PGA of mini golf. Matt Male won the 2015 USPMGA Masters with a twelve round score of 359, defeating Matt McCaslin by one stroke. The Masters are just one of a number of tournaments the USPMGA hosts every year, including the US Open and the ATW Tour, which hosts mini golf tournaments across the United States throughout the year.Image Source: prominigolf.com
Some of the most prominent mini golfers in the history of the game include Bobby Ward, who was the first person to be induced into the ProMiniGolf Hall of Fame in 2014. Ward has won four national tournaments. Another well known mini golfer is hall of famer Lee Stoddard. Stoddard’s intense love and dedication for the game of mini golf has turned him into one of the most respected disciples of the sport.
One question people have asked is if PGA Tour golfers could perform at a high level in a mini golf tournament, and the consensus is mixed. Some people believe that natural ability on the links would easily translate to the mini golf course, while others believe that the two are quite different in nature. Mini golf at the highest level demands that almost every single shot goes into the hole, whereas real golf does not reach that level of constant pressure.
While the goal is to finish in as few strokes as possible, shanking a drive still allows for a chance to recover. Shanking a mini golf putt on the other hand, has much larger ramifications. If your opponent sinks his hole in one putt, you instantly lose the hole. Simply speaking, mini golf provides much less margin for error, which brings merit to the argument that mini golf is actually just as hard as real golf, if not harder.
Unfortunately for the professional mini golfer, their ability to sink crazy putts wouldn’t help their ability to swing a driver or a wedge, which is where the real money is. There’s not much money in mini golf, and the pros play more for love of the game. PGA golfers may play for love of the game, but the prize money sure is an extra incentive.
Mini golf and real golf are inexplicably linked through their similarities while forever separated by their differences. Some may argue that mini golf is just a silly little distraction, while others like Lee Stoddard have devoted their lives to the game they love. The lines between these two very similar games will forever be blurred, but nobody can deny that golf in all of its forms is one of the cornerstones of human society, whether driving for show or putting for dough.