The crowd roars and Tiger pumps the air with his fist as
the ball sinks into the cup. Successful putts are the ecstatic climax to any
hole in golf ญ the reward for intense concentration and accurate
analysis of the line and speed of the green. But I’d like to know how the
Champ would deal with a tricky shot through the door of a miniature
Crazy golf might be regarded in the same light as candy
floss and all the fun of the fair, but despite its format of putting through
pipes and over bridges it is a professional sport.
Ironically, the idea started at the home of golf ญ
St Andrews in Scotland - when the 18-hole Ladies Putting Club was formed in
1867. However, that course demanded straightforward putts. Crazy landscaping
and obstacles weren’t introduced until 1916, when James Barber created
Thistle Dhu in North Carolina, USA.
A craze was born, and by the 1930s an estimated 4 million
American “minigolfers” were playing on 50,000 tiny courses, many of
which originated from the Tom Thumb Golf fantasy factory. This company
launched the first US National Tom Thumb Miniature Golf Tournament, with 200
contestants fighting for a top prize of US$2,000.
Known more today as minigolf, the World Minigolf
Federation claims that over 15 million people play the game annually in
Germany alone. Professional players in America compete for a prize budget of
more than US$100,000 and ESPN has televised some major events. There is a
European semi-professional circuit and the World Championships started in
Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that big names like
Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus are in on the act ญ designing
miniature replicas of famous golf holes such as the 11th at Troon, and
keeping to tradition with the odd waterwheel and windmill.
With a rapidly growing number of conventional golf
courses springing up in and around Chiang Mai, the emergence of crazy golf
was inevitable. Three venues have opened in the Rose of the North, with the
latest innovation being Go Putt-putt, situated behind Carrefours hypermarket
on the southbound Superhighway.
Here, anyone can join the world tour for as little as B.
120 for grown ups, B. 90 for youngsters, who putt their way around the globe
through pyramids and windmills, around the Eiffel Tower and down to the Taj
Mahal any day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
This undercover course not only offers a 19th hole for
refreshment, but also group discounts and special parties for friends,
colleagues and family fun.
Inter Minigolf teed off two years ago on the Sankamphaeng
Superhighway, roughly 10 kilometres east of the city, where eighteen
challenging holes in a concrete surface wind through a garden environment
beside a lake laden with lotus plants.
Play starts from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with mums and dads
paying B. 100 per round, children B. 60. And after scorecards, putters and
brightly colored balls are dished out; the first hole offers a simple shot
of some 20 metres.
Play becomes tougher at the volcano on the 8th, and shots
around Stone Henge and through a post box on the last are no doddle. There
are undulations, pipes, pyramids, ramps and a water jump, but the highlight
here is the 7th ญ a 40 metre pitch and putt with grass fairway and an
inclined tee to elevate the ball.
Whether playing in sunshine or under floodlight no round
of golf is complete without a drink, and the 19th hole isn’t far from the
In contrast to concrete, the conditions at Tropical Mini
Golf present a totally different ball game, with a fast felt surface, jagged
rocks and tiered fairways.
Eighteen holes in lush parkland surround a majestic
man-made waterfall beautifully set on the banks of the Ping River off Chang
Klang Road ญ five minutes drive from the city centre. Open from 10
a.m. to midnight, floodlight facilities, bar, restaurant and evening
entertainment and are all available.
Adult green fees are B. 120 – B. 60 for children - and
out on course the slightest touch of the putter sees the ball careering off
over humps and through hollows, and ending up in a bunker, if you’re not
Strategically placed rocks are a help or hazard depending
on the luck of the bounce. The right rebound can divert the ball towards the
cup on the doglegged 5th, or into oblivion if the ricochet goes wrong.
A well weighted shot is needed to hold the ball on a
small plateau at the 16th and tiered fairways on the 7th and 9th demand
putts through a pipe system that leads to the hole.
The ball hits a rock, vanishes down a hole before a pipe
spews it straight into the cup. Dad punches the sky like Tiger - family and
friends go raving mad. And that’s what crazy golf is all about.