The Differences Between Golf And Mini-golf

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Golf is one of the most popular leisure activities in the world, with millions playing each year. This has caused the creation of a new sport, called mini-golf. So, what’s the difference between golf and mini-golf?

The biggest difference is the size of the course. Golf courses stretch over 200 acres, while a large mini-golf course will be an acre. They also test different skills. Mini-golf puts a greater emphasis on creativity and learning how to adapt to new obstacles. Golf requires you to judge distances. Thirdly, mini-golf only uses one club, a putter. Golf allows up to 14 clubs.

Though both golf and mini-golf are a lot of fun, there are some key differences between the two. Keep reading to learn more about what sets these activities apart.

The Size of the Course

One of the most obvious differences is in the size of the golf course. There are a wide variety of golf courses around the world, from smaller country clubs to larger world-renowned ones. Because of this, the size of the course can vary slightly.

At their biggest, resort golf courses can stretch over 200 acres. Most urban courses are 170 acres. Because they are so large, guests will need to hire a golf buggy, as walking wouldn’t be suitable. It also makes maintaining them a substantial logistical challenge.

On the other hand, a mini-golf course is more condensed. Like golf courses, they can vary in size. The biggest ones can stretch over a few acres. Though there are plenty who take up a smaller area. For example, it’s believed that you can have a successful mini-golf in just 2,500 square feet. As a result, there are dozens of mini-golf courses that are fully indoors.

How Many Holes Are in Mini-golf?

Many people know the standard golf course is 18 holes. This is also the tournament standard for miniature golf. The same scoring system applies, with players trying to get the ball into the hole in the fewest possible strokes. Because of this, an ideal game of mini-golf will consist of 18 points, which means an ace being struck each time.

While this is the tournament standard, there are hundreds of mini-golf courses that have sprung up that don’t follow these rules. For example, some courses can stretch out to over 49 holes. Some have as many as 200. In this case, players often won’t have to play each one. They can move on to the ones that excite them the most. At the end of the game, the player with the lowest cumulative score will win.

Types of Mini-golf Courses

There is only one type of golf course. It will feature a mixture of sand, water traps, and wooded sections. On the other hand, there are many types of mini-golf. These are often defined by the type of materials that the course is made from. These course types are;

  1. Miniature golf. This is the name given to courses that are designed for competitive play.
  2. Felt courses. The course will be lined with felt. Often, there will be wooden boundaries used to keep the ball on the course.
  3. Concrete. The boundaries tend to be made of steel and the lanes are longer than other types.
  4. Mini-golf Open Standard (MOS). These courses are made from artificial grass and tend to feature a wider range of obstacles. The size and shape of the lanes also vary. These can be home to official tournaments, but the rules must be published in a coursebook and explained to players before the game begins.

The Difficulty of the Game

Another big difference between the games is their level of difficulty. How hard a golf course will be is ranked according to the slope ranking. This is a number that is between 55 and 155. The lower the slope rating, the easier it will be. Alternatively, you can use the course rating. This tells you the expected number of shots it will take for a scratch golfer to complete.

Obstacles Faced

These measurement systems often won’t apply to a mini-golf course. The best way to figure out how hard it will be is to look at the type of obstacles you will face. There is a huge variety in the world of mini-golf. For example, some courses will use moving obstacles. A common example is a windmill that will hit your ball off target.

Others will create difficulty by sloping the course. This forces the player to calculate the right amount of force to put onto the ball. There are even some mini-golf courses that take place in the dark, using glow-in-the-dark paint to light the course.

This is testing a different set of skills to regular golf. With mini-golf, there is a novelty factor involved. You need to be creative. For some shots, like a windmill, you will need to pick the perfect moment to hit the ball.

When it comes to regular golf, more emphasis is placed on being able to judge the right distance and land the ball in the right place. You’ll also need to deal with unpredictable real-world elements. For example, wind speed will factor into a golf game but won’t be a big deal in mini-golf.

How Accessible the Game is

Another element that’s worth considering is how accessible the game is. A regular golf course can seem like a daunting challenge, particularly to a beginner. Though if this applies to you, there are usually plenty of people who would be happy to help step you through your first game.

On the other hand, mini-golf has earned a reputation as a family-friendly game. Many courses will use bright colors and interesting obstacles to keep children interested. The shorter courses reduce how long you will need to walk between holes. As a result, mini-golf can often be a good way of kindling interest in regular courses.

A typical game of traditional golf can last around four hours. However, you can play a game of mini-golf in as little as 45 minutes.

Equipment Used

Another important element to consider is the amount of equipment you need to play each type of golf.


This game prides itself on simplicity. The only things you’ll need to start playing are;

  • Putter-The course isn’t long enough for other types of clubs. Typically, this will have a shorter handle, making it suitable for children.
  • Ball
  • Scoring pad

Regular Golf

On the other hand, regular golf will require;

  • A bag of golf clubs. The right one will depend on the type of hole you are facing. You can carry up to 14 clubs.
  • A golf cart
  • Balls
  • Scoring pad


Golf is known for having competitions. Tournaments like the PGA attract the best golfers in the world. These people will then compete for millions of dollars in prize money and sponsorship deals. Even amateur players have handicaps. Most local clubs can organize a competition.

In mini-golf, however, there is a more recreational approach to the game. While keeping a score is fun, at the end of the day it often doesn’t have a real consequence. Only the most serious mini-golfer will have a handicap. Though there are some mini-golf tournaments, they don’t attract the same attention as ones that focus on conventional golf. Because of this, they can’t offer the same huge prize money.

Final Thoughts

Mini-golf and golf have a lot of differences. The size of the course, the equipment used, and the length of the game, just to name a few. However, they also have some key similarities, with some of the key skills overlapping. Because of this, many golfers will alternate between the two depending on their mood. So, try both golf and mini-golf for yourself and see which one you prefer.