By James Proffitt
Posted On: Mar 11, 2021
Ohio has more than 100 miniature golf courses. Teenager Mia Wise works at the Lakeside course. "Is this putt-putt or miniature golf?" I asked. Mia cocked her head, frowned and pointed at the sign with a purple putter. It read 'Lakeside Miniature Golf.' "What's the difference?" I asked and she frowned again, said she didn't know - but promptly got on her phone. "Okay, here it is: it's simply two different skill levels," she explained. "One is generally more competitive and more difficult and the other is more just kind of, fun."
I did my own research too. What I found is that there are just a few Putt-Putt courses in Ohio, and 40-plus world-wide. Putt-Putt is a trademarked term and applies only to genuine Putt-Putt courses, which in general don't have hills, waterfalls, windmills or other crazy-fun embellishments. Bottom line is there are many miniature golf courses in Ohio (but just two Putt-Putt courses, in Warren and Upper Sandusky) which are two-par, skill-based links.
But whether it's genuine Putt-Putt or miniature golf, courses around the state are ready to provide inexpensive family fun, with many courses open year-round.
Monsoon Lagoon in Port Clinton
While Lakeside's course is a flat course directly on the shore of Lake Erie, a few miles away in Port Clinton, Monsoon Lagoon's course is built around a mountain overlooking exotic animals, a go-cart race track and, of course, a lagoon where people in inner-tubes float lazily past.
Note: Social distancing is required at Monsoon Lagoon. No food or drinks are permitted on the premise (including the parking lot).
Photo credit: Perry's Cave Family Fun Center, Facebook
Perry's Cave Family Fun Center in Put-in-Bay
Across the lake on South Bass Island, the Perry's Cave Family Fun Center course "War of 18 Holes" has plenty of bright blue water and waterfalls. A host of other fun and exciting things, like a butterfly house and gemstone mining, surround the course.
The Putt-Putt Fun Center in Warren
This center has fun for the whole family: a professional course, an amateur course and a miniature course for the budding golf enthusiasts. It will reopen in the Spring.
Photo credit: Scene75 Entertainment Center, Facebook
Scene75 Entertainment Center with 4 Locations
Scene 75 Entertainment centers in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton all feature the ever-popular, year-round "glow golf." There are more than lots of other spots in Ohio where you can golf in darkness surrounded by neon colors, and likely there's a rad one near you.
Note: Reservations are not required, but masks are required. You can also read their Stay Safe Together Playbook before going.
Photo credit: Allison's Mini Golf, Facebook
Allison's Mini Golf in Geneva-on-the-Lake
For some seriously historical golfing, try Allison's Mini Golf in Geneva-on-the-Lake. It's the nation's oldest continuously-operating course in America. It was established by the Allison family in 1924 and folks have been putting its tiny greens and fairways ever since.
Note: The Mini Golf is open weekends from May through Memorial weekend, then everyday until Labor Day (it's also open the weekend after Labor Day).
Are there rules for miniature golf? Of course. No full swings, let faster parties play through and no do-overs or cheating. Yeah, and that last one is sort of flexible, so parents, when the kids are beating you up on the scorecard, no one will be mad if you cheat – just a little!
*Originally written Aug. 2018, updated March 2021