A pirate ship casts its shadow over the green corridors of Pirates’ Cove mini golf course, setting the scene for golfers to enjoy a round of swashbuckling putt-putt. The 18-hole promenade also winds past geysers, waterfalls, and trickling streams.
Ben and Ari's accommodates competitors of all levels with a full arcade and pizza kitchen flanked by two 18-hole miniature-golf courses. Both courses mimic the terrain of their larger long-game counterparts, but eschew the giant windmills in favor of dips, bends, and wandering streams that swallow wayward golf balls. The fairways also wind around the centerpiece of a working waterfall, which trickles in the background of live bands during summer festivals and fundraisers. During the winter months, players stay warm in the glow of the arcade, which houses 45 nonviolent video games that allow kids to enjoy simulated road races. The arcade also encompasses a pair of scaled-down bowling alleys that make strikes and spares a feasible goal for pint-sized rollers.
The saga of the world-famous Putt-Putt chain dates back to 1954, when founder Don Clayton opened his first course in Fayetteville, North Carolina. After the hole-in-one, Don started selling franchises the next year, and now his miniature empire counts the Louisville Putt-Putt Fun Center among its ranks. Three 18-hole indoor courses test mini golfers' mettle with distinct challenges and themes. On one course, a waterfall scintillates soothingly, and on another, animals stand watch and try to store errant golf balls for winter's semipermanent nap. An arcade tests hand-eye-screen coordination, and an outdoor party pavilion hosts birthday parties and events.
At Bluff Creek Golf Course, the club's eponymous creek chuckles quietly across 171 acres of relatively open emerald sweeps and 6,525 yards of fairways and greens. Though much of the course roams across flat terrain, certain holes feature sudden elevation changes, including the par 3 10th, where the green rests at the bottom of a 70-foot drop-off that visually obscures the target from golfers. Forgiving fairways, fast bent-grass greens, and thick heather grasses to ensnare poor shots create the feeling of a classic links-style course. Players must take confident swings to evade the water hazards formed by the creek and nine retention ponds, which come into play on the final eight holes and every screaming match with a catfish.
After rounds, a parade of players leads past startlingly colorful redbud trees to the hilltop clubhouse, which sits at one of the highest points in Johnson County. Frosty glasses sing together, the sound drifting off toward the distant Indianapolis skyline. Bluff Creek Golf Course also peddles a variety of clubs and apparel from other top brands in a pro shop, where guests can schedule lessons with a certified instructor to fix a recurring slice or tendency to yell their social-security number mid swing.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Length of 6,525 yards from the farthest tees * Course rating of 70.8 from the farthest tees * Slope rating of 120 from the farthest tees * Three tee options
Otte Golf and Family Fun Center is a perennial fixture in Golf Range Magazine’s list of the country’s Top 100 Golf Ranges. Its 300-yard driving range houses more than 50 stalls—guests can choose between grass and mat hitting surfaces—set under high-powered lights that keep the target greens illuminated at night. The range provides a venue for independent practice or preparation for rounds on the center's 18-hole executive course, a circuit of par-threes and fours that takes a convenient 2.5 hours to complete, which gives golfers more time to trick out the vintage golf carts in their garages.
A lighthouse stands sentry over the 18-hole miniature golf course, where guests advance through flowerbeds, willow trees, and tidy rows of shrubs and hedges. Those interested in striking balls that aren't placed on tees or the noses of their best friends can visit one of nine batting cages, where pitching machines dispense a steady stream of baseballs and softballs at various speeds.
Valle Vista Golf Club's 18-hole, par 70 course spans 6,306 yards, incorporating wide fairways and immaculate greens draped over the countryside. Ponds come into play on eight different holes, including the signature 17th hole, a 147-yard par 3 that plays into a sloped green wreathed by a front-right pond and bunkers dug into the left and back sides. Golfers in need of new apparel or clubs to replace the ones lost in a sword-swallowing interpretation gone awry can peruse the club's pro shop, which carries equipment from Titleist, Callaway, and other top industry brands.
Course at a Glance: