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Are You Playing Putt-Putt Or Mini Golf? Is There A Difference?

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Mini golf is a fun outing that the whole family is sure to enjoy but many people probably never think too much about which name they call it, but did you know there actually is a difference?

The History of the Name ‘Putt-Putt’

Putt-Putt is a fun version of mini-golf that has a little different history. Its name was actually trademarked and popularized as a form of mini-golf. Putt-Putt however, had some slightly different quirks than regular mini-golf. 

Where Did The Name Putt-Putt Come From?

The name Putt-Putt comes from an actual place in Fayetteville, NC named the Putt-Putt Fun Center that was founded in 1954. The owner, Don Clayton, copyrighted the name and worked toward branding all of his courses and centers with high-quality standards that they still continue today.

How Do You Play Putt-Putt?

While it has a different name, Putt-Putt is generally played the same as mini-golf, or regular golf for that matter. The main goal is to get the tiny ball into the hole in as few hits as possible. 

The History of the Name ‘Mini Golf’

Mini-golf is the game that literally comes from a smaller version of golf. Instead of going out to the green, needing a golf cart rental, and being sweaty for hours, you can play a round of mini-golf in as little or as much time as you want! Plus, you can bring the whole family to this golf game!

Where Did The Name Mini Golf Come From?

There are several varied accounts of where mini-golf came from, but it seems that the first recorded mini-golf game was in 1912 and from there the game became a popular past-time in North Carolina and spread from there. While not necessarily the most creative name, mini-golf perfectly describes the game!

How Do You Play Mini Golf?

Mini-golf is very similar to a regular game of golf and Putt-Putt in that the primary goal is to get your ball into the hole with as few strokes of your putter as possible. 

It also favors regular golf in that there are different goals, or pars, for each hole in the game. This means that sometimes you only have two strokes, while other times you have six. 

The key to winning is having the lowest number of strokes at the end of the game in your group. 

Are There Differences Between Mini Golf and Putt Putt?

While both games have similarities and are both technically miniature versions of golf, they have some clear differences.

Mini Golf Usually Has More Obstacles

Mini-golf courses usually have more obstacles, making the course more challenging. Putt-Putt courses usually have very minimal, basic obstacles such as small hills or sandpits. Where mini-golf courses have every type of obstacle imaginable, including water features, life-sized statues, and all kinds of waves and dips. 

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With their varied obstacles, this means another key difference is that mini-golf courses usually all have individual themes. Typically, each course will have a fun theme that they will center all the obstacles around, which creates added fun for everyone! You will feel like you've stepped into a new world with all the fun themes at your mini-golf course. 

Putt-Putt courses typically keep their courses minimal and more similar to a regular golf course green, so you're not likely to see a tyrannosaurus or aliens at the Putt-Putt course! 

These days, though, the names are interchangeable and both represent the beautiful game of putting that families across the world love.


If your family is looking to have a friendly competition of mini golf, Smugglers Cove has five locations in Florida, each with its own fun theme for you to enjoy. Check us out at one or all of our locations and brush up on your mini-golf skills today!

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Topics: putt putt, family fun, mini golf