There’s some rippers and some absolute howlers.
You really have to think hard about the human race when hitting a little white ball into a small hole – with a long metal stick while dodging obstacles – is considered fun. But it is, and I take this silly form of golf very seriously. I’ve played mini golf courses the world over, and Victoria has some sweet ones, and some crappy ones too. So without further ado, here’s our list of the best and worst mini golf courses around Melbourne.
Bellarine Adventure Golf
Just outside Ocean Grove is Bellarine Adventure Golf, sporting two courses, The Mill and The Mountain. Although it lacks the wackiness of some other oddball mini golf arrangements, it makes up for it in thoughtful design, traditional water and sand features, and its innovative vacuum system that make balls defy gravity. My pick of the courses is The Mountain, but the three-tiered elevated hole can be a nightmare. The Mill has a cockatoo that will say hello, and even say ‘scratch’ unprovoked while flicking out its yellow mohawk.
Grampians Adventure Golf
Difficult but fun is the Grampians-themed mini golf in Halls Gap. Each hole is named and designed with features of the actual Grampians that surround the course, like ‘The Pinnacle’ and ‘The Balconies’. ‘The Nerve Test’ hole lets you opt for the short-cut across a balancing beam, but mark my words, it’s not as easy as it looks. When you get to the hole with the circular loop, make sure you smack the hell out of the ball, as it needs some extra guts. This course also has a jackpot hole, where you can pay extra to have a ping at a hole in one to take home a cash prize.
There’s always been mixed reports of Holey Moley but one thing it nails on the head is the marrying of two social pillars – drinking and mini golf. Since it opened in Melbourne a few years back, the venue can’t turn people away and that’s because Holey Moley fills a hole in the market. 27 holes of fun sprawling two levels, this place is huge however the difficulty of some holes leaves something to be desired.
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Yarra Bend Adventure Mini Golf
Next to one of Melbourne’s best public golf courses is one of Melbourne’s more average mini golf courses. It’s not terrible, and is still worthy of a putt, especially for an inner city course, but where it goes wrong is that it takes itself too seriously. It’s missing the silly things that make mini golf fun. Where are the clowns? The dinosaurs? The swinging windmills? Head to the nearby Fairfield Boathouse instead and take out a rowboat to serenade a lover – or play the actual golf course.
Sunshine Mini Golf
By now I bet you can guess what I think makes a good mini golf course. It’s not the PGA, and we’re not playing for a gold jacket, rather a mini golf course is appealing if it’s fanciful and captures your imagination. This course, however, was the pits. Located in the midst of the volcanic barren plains of Mt Derrimut, the fake grass was too thick and slowed the ball down to a laborious pace; the only obstacles were a few big rocks, and my sister beat me. It has beginner, medium and expert difficulties on each hole, which just makes things confusing. Thumbs down.
Glow Golf Docklands
This is where things get weird. You begin in ultraviolet rooms and end up in the Australian desert complete with an outback dunny and a guy making strange sounds. There’s a wheel before each hole that you can spin to set different rules, like the other player choosing where you start from. The novelty factor is high here, but it feels like you’re playing in an abandoned theme park. Bonus fact: Taylor Lautner from the Twilight series played here and described it as ‘smelly’.
Dingley Village Adventure Golf
Dingley Village Adventure Golf is deep in Melbourne’s sandbelt golf precinct. It has two courses, one undercover (The Chasm), and one outdoor (The Creek). The undercover one is superior because it’s protected from the weather. Quality water features, a big wheel, and thoughtfully designed.
Pirate Pete’s Mini Golf Adventure
At the Maru Koala and Animal Park in Grantville sits Victoria’s holy grail of mini golf courses. It has life-sized pirates, a cascading waterfall, and a 30-metre pirate ship. The story goes that Pirate Pete got marooned at Maru after escaping his crew with a large ‘booty’. On top of that, each year, they host the Grantville Pirate Festival – holy cowballs! If you’re on the way to Phillip Island, it’s definitely worth stopping off, having a putt and saying g’day to Pete.
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Latrobe Golf Park
Nestled in the surrounds of La Trobe University and next door to the Preston Cemetery are two mini golf courses, The Lakes and The Desert. Both moderately challenging, there are tiny little castles to navigate through, a giant boulder, and handles on the flags so you don’t have to bend down to pick up your ball (health and safety, people). Latrobe Golf Park golf is ok, but not the greatest. If you’re a vampire and can’t make it out in the daylight for fear of spontaneous combustion, they’re also open at night.
Wangaratta Putt & Glow Mini Golf
Up in ‘the Wang’ as the locals describe it, is Wangaratta Putt & Glow Mini Golf. It’s underground, in a car park, below a cinema and tenpin bowling alley in Wangaratta’s magnificent entertainment precinct. Like something out of The Lego Movie, what it lacks in obstacles, (it does have a lighthouse and wrecked pirate ship), it makes up for in glow. Unfortunately, Wangaratta Putt & Glow Mini Golf is currently closed due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19.
Booking a holiday soon? Make sure you check out our piece on Victoria’s most glorious national parks.
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