It’s a Thursday evening in Fort Collins and Old Town Putt, an indoor miniature golf course and bar located in the Exchange, is a lively scene. A group of giggling young women grab putters and balls and head to the first hole, frozen cocktails in hand. Another group of men are farther along the course, aiming towards the gong that serves as a bull’s eye backstop to the hole. A satisfying “booonnng” reverberates amidst the chatter. There’s only one child on the course.
Putt-Putt, the world’s first and only copyrighted and branded miniature golf game, was founded in Fayetteville, North Carolina in 1954. Many offshoots of the popular game have sprung up since then—you’d be hard-pressed to visit a beach town in Florida or a ski resort in Colorado during the summer that doesn’t sport a version of the game. However, as recent openings illustrate, mini golf isn’t just for kids anymore. Now grownups can get in on the fun, complete with adult libations to help—or hinder—your handicap.
Old Town Putt, which opened this past May, has a nine-hole course that is entirely indoors (making it easy to enjoy even in inclement weather). Custom holes include musical elements like that gong and a stair-step keyboard. Dana Snell, who opened Old Town Putt with his wife Nora, said that they’ve gotten a great response to the business and already have guests who are coming back multiple times and bringing friends and groups. “I think it [the mini golf] just adds an element of entertainment to the social atmosphere that people are looking for,” Snell says. “I like the community feel. We’re getting that vibe of people feeling like it’s their place and that’s really cool.”
Punch Bowl Social in Stapleton also added mini golf to its expansive offering of games (which includes bowling, ping pong, shuffleboard, and karaoke) for kids and kids-at-heart. The course at the Putt Club, which opened in June, has an aesthetic that incorporates elements of the neighborhood’s aviation history. It’s also the only outdoor mini golf course for the Punch Bowl Social brand. Spread over the 14,000-square-foot patio, the Putt Club’s 18 holes are easy enough for beginners but include a few challenges for veteran putters too. Order the “Punch of the Month” or an adult (read, spiked) milkshake to stay “hydrated” while you play.
But the pièce de résistance in the Front Range mini golf game is Urban Putt, which opens today. Located in the former Old Spaghetti Factory space on 18th Street, Urban Putt includes an expansive bar area, plenty of dining tables, the iconic streetcar from the space’s previous tenants, and an 18-hole mini golf course that is anything but “mini.” Motion-activated and virtual reality elements elevate the experience to something more akin to wandering through a movie set. Owner Steve Fox opened the first Urban Putt in San Francisco in 2014; Denver seemed like a natural choice for a second location.
“This is a city of people who appreciate joy and wonder,” Fox says. “I’ve seen that [here] on a regular basis. I think people also really appreciate artful activities, things that give them something fun to do that does not simply revolve around sitting on a bar stool.”
Built by a creative team including metalworkers, electromechanical experts, 3-D modelers, sound wizards, game designers/software gurus, and mural artist-in-residence John Ramirez, players will encounter a steampunk-inspired submarine, an overgrown octopus, and an interstellar visitor on the golf course, as well as six holes inspired by Colorado landmarks and locations like the Capital Building, Denver International Airport, and Red Rocks.
“We are working hard to play with people’s perceptions and put them into a space that takes them out of their normal existence,” Fox says. “[Urban Putt] is meant to stand out, to be an experience that people will want to come back for because it is unusual and wonderful.”
Because adults deserve a little bit of wonderful, too.
If you go: At Old Town Putt, entry is restricted to adults after 8 p.m. A nine-hole round of golf costs $8.50 for adults and $6.50 for kids 12 and under. Sunday–Thursday 10 a.m.–10 p.m., Friday–Saturday 10 a.m.–midnight; 244 N. College Ave., Ste. 112, Fort Collins, 970-682-2922.
At Punch Bowl Social Stapleton, 18 holes costs $10. Monday–Wednesday 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Thursday 11 a.m.– midnight, Friday 11–1 a.m., Saturday 9 a.m.–1 a.m., Sunday 9 a.m.–10 p.m.; 3120 Uinta St., Denver, 720-500-3788.
At Urban Putt, entry is restricted to adults 21 and older after 8 p.m. Green fees are $11 for nine holes or $19 for 18 holes. Mondays–Thursdays 4 p.m.–midnight, Friday 4 p.m. –1 a.m., Saturdays 11–1 a.m., Sunday 11 a.m.–midnight; 1201 18th St., Denver, 720-360-3020.