How to create your own backyard miniature golf course
With summer starting next week, Southern Californians are looking forward to some outdoor recreation. One of my favorite fun-in-the-sun activities is golf, although I admit I’m much better at the driving range than on an actual course. OK, who am I kidding? I’m not very good at the driving range either. But miniature golf? That’s my sweet spot.
If, like me, you don’t get to the miniature course very often, there’s a fun solution: build a miniature golf course in your own backyard. With a little ingenuity, you can turn ordinary household items into miniature golf elements and obstacles. The game is a perfect activity for summer gatherings, and people of all ages enjoy it. So follow these suggestions, and you can be master of the (miniature) links.
Although you can use actual putters, you might want to fashion alternative clubs so there can be one for everyone. Try PVC pipe, broom handles or even pool noodles. You really just need a long stick to make contact with the ball.
Real golf balls are fine to use, but they are heavy, so test your makeshift golf club to make sure it is strong enough to move the ball. If not, try lightweight alternatives, such as pingpong or Wiffle balls.
You will want to create flags that mark each of your holes so players will know how the course is laid out. Write the hole numbers on pieces of paper and glue them to long wooden skewers. Then insert the skewers in the grass.
One of the most iconic miniature golf elements is a castle, usually with a door or drawbridge that goes up and down. Make your own castle using empty cereal boxes, cut to include castle features, like battlements. Fill the boxes with rocks so they won’t tip over, and paint them or cover them with duct tape. Be sure to cut a hole at the bottom for a doorway that the golf ball will pass through.
It’s just not a miniature golf course without a windmill. Glue two rulers perpendicular to each other for the windmill blades, and glue the blades to a small clay pot that has been turned upside down. Then place the clay pot on an upside-down plastic bucket that has a hole cut out at the bottom for the ball to enter.
Create several elements that your ball will have to travel through. Old mailing tubes and tin cans that have been painted or wrapped in paper make stylish tunnels. You can also assemble books that are standing up like tents to form a maze for the ball.
Give the players a challenge by adding a sand trap. Fill an aluminum baking pan or cookie sheet with sand, and place a “bridge” made of stiff poster board above the sand. You can also create a lake for balls to land in by filling the baking pan with water instead of sand.
Treat your last hole like a finish line. Use string to tie a piece of paper between two bottles of soda. When the golf ball goes between the bottles, the paper gate swings open to signify that the player has finished the round — which means it’s time for a refreshing drink.
Jonathan Fong is the author of “Walls That Wow,” “Flowers That Wow” and “Parties That Wow,” and host of “Style With a Smile” on YouTube. You can see more of his do-it-yourself projects at jonathanfongstyle.com.