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Pro Mini Golf Tips to Help You Win, Plus the Biggest Mistake Most People Make

Learn tricks for aiming, putting speed and more!

A trip to the mini golf course can be fun for people of all ages! Like golf, the game’s aim is to score the lowest number of points. The big difference? The courses are much smaller, and often include elements on each hole to add an extra layer of difficulty. Maneuvering the tiny ball around and through castles, bridges, windmills and more can be tricky! Even if you’re just hitting the course for fun, you’ll probably still want to wow your pals with your mini-golf skills! That’s where we can hep! We asked professionals for their best mini golf tips to boost your chances of walking away with a win.

Rotate your body

A person aiming their mini golf ball
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A smaller course and less room to work with means it’s more important than ever to properly aim your ball. World and national champion mini golfer Vanette Block, founder of nonprofit American Mini Golf Partnership and chair of the women in sports committee for the World Minigolf Sport Federation, shares one of the biggest mistakes she often sees: “People are worried about aiming their putter — you don’t aim a putter, you aim your body.”

The focus, instead, should be on foot alignment and body alignment. If you want to hit your ball at a 45-degree angle to the left, rotate your entire body (instead of just your arms) so that your shoulders line up with the direction you plan to putt. “It’s hard to aim right when you’re standing horizontal to where you want the ball to be versus an angle,” she adds.

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Don’t aim for the hole

A mini golf ball aimed at a leaf on the course
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Another secret to aiming success: Focus on a spot on the course closer to you instead of the hole itself. “It’s easier to aim your putter five feet away than 50 feet away,” reveals Rainey Statum, winner of the 2018 US ProMiniGolf Association US Open competition.

Not sure where to look? “Sometimes you find a spot on the carpet or perhaps a brick or rock and that can guide you on a certain hole to get the best possible shot,” adds Matt McCaslin, a four-time ProMiniGolf Association US Open champion.

‘Lag’ your putt

A woman lagging her putt in mini golf
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While many amateur players focus on getting a hole in one (also known as an ace), this can sometimes hurt your score overall. The reason: You may end up putting your ball into a tricky spot trying to get that ace.

For that reason, Olivia Prokopova, four-time ProMiniGolf Association U.S. Open Champion and Hall of Fame inductee, suggests trying an approach known as “lagging your putt.” Try to get the ball close to the hole so you can easily sink the ball on your second putt. “For many holes, a 2 is a good score,” she says.

Be mindful of your speed

A mini golf ball traveling on the green
Micael Carlsson/Getty

One of the most difficult aspects of mini golf is knowing how much force to give your putt. In fact, many people end up overshooting or barely getting their ball down the green. The secret to success: “Before you putt, ask yourself, If I had the ball in my hand, how hard would I toss it?” advises Statum. This will help you determine how much force to use to hit the ball with your club.

When it comes to your second shot, slow is always better. “Often putts with the ball on the edge of the hole will fall in if the speed is slow,” adds Prokopova.

Consider the turf

A mini golf hole
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Another way to help you gauge what speed to use? Look at the material covering the course. “The playing surface can dictate the speed needed,” explains McCaslin.

A thicker turf, which can slow the ball down, may call for a harder putt. Thin carpet, however, usually requires more control. “If you’re playing on a thin surface, you could over-hit and find yourself 3 feet past the hole,” he cautions.

Observe your opponents

colorful golf balls and club on a mini golf course: mini golf tips
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Many mini golf courses are loaded with obstacles and tricky challenges. This can make it tough to figure out the best path for the ball to take. What can help: “Watch other players and learn from the shot they’ve hit and see how the ball reacted,” says Neil Hay, ex-pro golfer and senior golf writer at GolfGuideBook.com.

One of the more popular challenges you may encounter is a hole that’s banked higher on one side than the other. If the right side of the hole is higher than the left, you want to aim to putt the ball to the right since the ball will naturally fall to the left, says Hays. “Gravity always wins!”  

Stay away from ‘banking’

Mini golf obstacles
-lvinst-/Getty

Obstacles around a hole can make It tough to get the ball where you want to go. It can be temping to use these to “bank” your ball into the hole, which means hitting it against a surface at an angle to redirect its path. However, the pros don’t recommend this!

“All the good players would rather not bank if we have the option not to,” shares Block. “We have more confidence in straight shot.” The reason? Banking can make things unpredictable and give you a worse score. When possible, she suggests avoiding banking — unless it’ll make things more favorable for your next putt.

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