7 Insanely Creative Mini Golf Courses in San Francisco, Walnut Creek and More

Miniature golf’s popularity peaked in the 1950s when the idea of ​​fantastic landscaping and crazy contraptions – hello, spinning windmill blades – hit artificial turf. The tradition of windmills and castle moats continues at Golfland, Scandia, Boomers and similar entertainment centres.

RELATED: The Bay Area’s Best Mini Golf Course Is Also The Smallest

But new types of putt putt courses have surfaced in recent years, showcasing an explosion of creativity with elaborate themed holes – a Chinatown dragon, for example, or a Jules Vernes-style submarine – or attractions that change seemingly overnight. There are pubs with mini golf, and there are putting courses with booze. There are even putt putt pop-ups.

Here are a few to try in the Bay Area.

potion putt

This Potter-esque pop-up recently opened in San Francisco for a year-long residency with a series of holes inspired by a certain boy wizard. The holes are complete with potions, cauldrons, floating candles and a certain very large spider. Magical libations too. Open Wednesday through Sunday ($18, by reservation only) at SVN West, 10 Van Ness Ave. in San Francisco; https://explorehidden.com.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 9: Molly LeBeau plays miniature golf with friends at Potion Putt in San Francisco, California on Wednesday, March 9, 2022. The miniature golf course features 9 holes of wizard-themed miniature golf. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Stagecoach greens

As San Francisco’s only outdoor miniature golf course tells the story of California’s “Boom and Bust,” you’ll wind your way through a Barbary Coast Saloon, a gold rush graveyard, the 1906 earthquake and more. The 10,000 square foot course even features a Chinatown-inspired dragon. Stagecoach Greens ($10-$16, reservations required) is usually open 4-9 p.m. Monday and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday at 1379 Fourth St. in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood; www.stagecoachgreens.com.

Mini-golfers play in the Barbary Coast Saloon-themed hole at San Francisco’s Stagecoach Greens. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group File) Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group

Inferior Miniature Golf

This mini golf course brings San Francisco indoors with holes inspired by Bay Area landmarks. You can loop around the Golden Gate Bridge, putt on Alcatraz Island, and send your golf ball around the curves of Lombard Street. Subpar is originally from Alameda, but Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco has been the home base since 2019. The course ($12 per person) is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday at 900 North Point St. Reservations recommended, especially Fridays and weekends; www.subparminigolf.com.

Subpar Miniature Golf at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (Randy Vazquez/Bay Area News Group)

putt putt

This lovely, handmade outdoor mini golf course in downtown Walnut Creek offers not-too-difficult, ever-changing action – its owner is constantly building new holes to add to the collection or trade. Putters Putt Putt ($10) is open 2 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 12:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. weekends at 1275 S. California Blvd. at Walnut Creek; puttersputtputt.com.

WALNUT CREEK, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 6: Scott Weiss, of Concord, putts with his sons Zach, 11, left, and Lucas, 9, while playing a round of miniature golf at Putters Putt Putt in Walnut Creek, California , Sunday, March 6, 2022. Owner Sean Howard hand-built a post-pandemic miniature golf course and opened a course in downtown Walnut Creek. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Urban putt

This 14-hole indoor course, plus a restaurant and bar, features creative and elaborate decor and special effects, from Captain Nemo’s Nautilus to a mist-crowned Sutro Tower. Urban Putt ($10-$14) opens at 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon on weekends with adult-only hours after 8 p.m. Find it at 1096 S. Van Ness Ave. in the Mission district of San Francisco. Reservations recommended; www.urbanputt.com.

Oakland’s Melissa Leebove, center, puts the ball in a hole as Boston’s Susan Sherwin, left, and Chicago’s Ashley Koehn wait their turn on a miniature golf course at Urban Putt in San Francisco, in California on Tuesday. , September 16, 2014. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

flat pub

This Sacramento-based restaurant, pub and mini-golf resort is heading to Bay Street Emeryville and Cityline Center in Sunnyvale this fall. Expect a menu of Mexican-style street food, craft beers and local wines to enhance the putt-putt action inside. Keep an eye on the progress of www.tipsyputt.com.

When it opens two Bay Area locations this fall, Flatstick Pub will offer craft beer, tacos and mini-golf in Emeryville and Sunnyvale. (Courtesy of Flatstick Pub)

The Bay Area offers nearly endless options for outdoor adventures, tasty bites, and unexpected day trips. We’ve created a Bay Area Bucket List project that asks our readers to help us find the best activities to cover in the Bay Area.

Send us your ideas below. We’ll post a sample, so readers can vote and help us choose interesting activities to explore. Be sure to include your contact details so we can ping you if we select your idea for consideration.

Once we’ve chosen a selection of potential story ideas, we’ll open it up to a vote for readers to choose which idea we’ll cover next. Check out our latest round of voting below.

Michael C. Ford