Inside The Puttery: An Adults Only, Theme Park-Esque Mini Golf Experience
As adult fans of theme parks and the amusement industry, we’re often looking for ways to scratch a theme park “itch.” We realize that not everyone has the time or lives in the geographic area where they can conveniently just “pop in” for a few minutes at their home park or local family entertainment center, and sometimes, you need a quick, entertaining, and immersive option for fun. Maybe a little competition, definitely an adult beverage or two. Enter The Puttery, who are taking the classic concept of miniature golf and giving it modern spin for those ages 21-and-older.
Currently boasting two operating locations (Dallas, Tex. & Charlotte, N.C., which both opened in 2021) with eight more on the way very soon (D.C, Miami, Chicago, Kansas City, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Houston), The Puttery describes itself as offering an “immersive experience unlike any other. From competitive socializing to curated culinary options and inventive craft cocktails, one thing is for sure – you can always count on an epic night out.” Yes, you read that right. This isn’t your typical “putt through the windmill” putt-putt course. Each unique course is designed to be a visceral, intricately detailed experience that transports guests to a wholly unexpected location.
Puttery’s parent company is Drive Shack, Inc. – known for their gamified “Driving Range” concept. While a trip to Drive Shack can take a few hours, to an entire afternoon or evening, the Puttery takes a lot of the fun that guests can expect at Drive Shack – golf, food, drink, competition, and fun atmosphere, and shrinks it down into a tighter compact time window.
During a recent visit to the Charlotte location, I was eager to see if the marketing copy on The Puttery’s website would hold true. How can you possibly plus-up miniature golf and make it an immersive experience? I wondered. I grew up about two hours from Myrtle Beach, S.C., known for its highly themed miniature golf on every corner. Could this be that different? The answer, quite simply, is yes, absolutely.
Our group of nine made an afternoon reservation and arrived near the beginning of our arrival window. When you make a reservation at the Puttery, you’re actually selecting a 90-minute time window, and your group may not tee-off until later into that time frame. Fortunately for us, they put us into three groups with back-to-back-to-back tee times, and we were off.
Playing the Charotte Puttery’s “Library” Course (the Charlotte location has two 9-hole courses, Library and “The Conservatory), the first thing you notice is the attention to detail. Approaching this from a theme park minded perspective, the theming was on par, if not better than, a number of regional amusement parks in the United States. Not only are there shelves and shelves of books, but the course obstacles are themed to the environment as well. Immersive was a great way to describe it. The next thing you notice is the full bar, located conveniently between the first and second hole.
In addition to a shelf for drinks, each “tee area” features a digital touchscreen that serves as your scorecard on each hole, and carries through the round with you. No tiny pencils or paper scorecards that you have to keep putting in and out of your pocket. The technology is actually pretty impressive, and as your group finishes its hole, your scorecard pops up on the next screen while the next group’s populates the current screen. These screens are linked to wall displays throughout the space, which feature that day’s leaderboard, and also catalogs any holes-in-one. (These wall displays update following the completion of your round, so, unfortunately there isn’t a running tally of “aces” during the round.)
The nine holes on the Library course featured varying levels of difficulty, and while they featured some classic miniature golf elements (hit into one whole, ball pops out of another hole elsewhere, etc.), the course was truly one of the most unique mini golf courses I’d ever played. Don’t let its deceptively small footprint fool you, as several golfers in our group (myself included) found a way to “max out” their score on several of the holes. (Maximum strokes on any hole are six, presumably designed to keep the on-course traffic flowing smoothly.) The “greens” roll a bit slow. You have been warned!
While I was even par heading into the ninth hole, I blew up on the final hole and finished my round at two-over-par. In total, it took our group of nine about 45 minutes from start-to-finish. While we didn’t get a chance to play both courses. (Keep in mind that the price you pay is for a 9-hole round, not a traditional 18), the Conservatory course at Puttery Charlotte looked fun, and I’ll definitely be checking it out next time!
Outside of the miniature golf, The Puttery also had an enormous bar area, featuring a chef-curated menu with items like sous vide pork belly, tuna tostadas, and a number of pizza options. For those with a sweet tooth, the Puttery offers mini mason jar desserts. Each location is unique. While the Charlotte location features 15,000 square feet of space and two-themed courses, the Dallas location features nearly 21,000 square feet of space, three bars, and four uniquely themed golf courses. For more information about the upcoming Puttery locations, we recommend checking out the Puttery website.
For adults looking for that experience we mentioned at the top of this article, one that combines elements of a theme park, with immersion, entertainment, theming, and maybe a little bit of competition, we recommend checking out a Puttery near you (once more open, of course — but if you’re in Charlotte or Dallas, absolutely!) One quick note, for a theme park-esque experience, you’ll pay a bit of a theme park-esque price, as each 9-hole round costs $18. But if you’re looking for a fun date night or group activity, stick around the Puttery before or after your round, order a craft cocktail and a quick bite to eat, and make a evening out of it. You’ll be glad you did.
As a reminder, all guests of the Puttery must be 21-years-of-age or older.