mini golf vs golf

Mini Golf vs Golf: Similarities & Differences

Mini golf and standard golf are two sports that aren’t typically compared, as they are distinctively different. While standard golf caters to a group of people who tend to take the sport more seriously, mini golf gives a chance to players who wish to enjoy the sport more casually. 

The main difference between mini golf and golf is that mini golf is a miniature version of standard golf and played on a much smaller course that features more types of obstacles. Apart from the rules and the dress code, price is also one of the biggest differences in both games, with mini golf being a lot more affordable. 

Due to the different course sizes, a standard golf game typically lasts about 3 to 4 hours, while a round of mini golf lasts for only 30 – 45 minutes. There are various other similarities and differences between mini golf and standard golf. Let’s take a closer look at them!

Game Type

Mini golf is an offshoot of standard golf, with the intention to miniaturize golf and introduce various types of challenges and obstacles. Since it was first played in the 19th century, mini golf has made it to every part of the world. 

Although there are many accounts of early mini golf adaptations, it made its first official debut at the Ladies Putting Club of St. Andrews in 1867. Following this in the early 1930s, Garnet Carter who owned 700 acres of land on Lookout Mountain, Georgia along with his wife, created a mini golfing course to keep his inn guests entertained. He later named it “Tom Thumb.” 

It is believed that the primary reason behind the invention of mini golf was to give people a more casual and less complex experience than standard golf. Today, mini golf is one of the world’s favorite pastimes with mini golf courses in nearly every large city. 

Course Size & Design

Regular golf is played at resorts and clubs that have vast areas of land, as the average golf course spans about 150 acres. Comparatively, mini golf is played in dedicated facilities or in theme parks that require a much smaller amount of space – just about 20,000 square feet (0.46 acres).

Typical Golf Course Layout
Typical Mini Golf Course Layout

Though both games feature a course that consists of 18 holes, the distance between the tee and the hole in regular golf is much greater than in mini golf. This is because mini golf holes are much smaller in size.  

To put things into perspective, the drive when playing regular golf is somewhere between 250 and 300 yards due to the large course design. A stroke in mini golf is only a few yards at most. 

Moreover, compared to the nature-inspired landscapes of a golf course, mini golf courses usually feature a theme-based design. These themes typically include waterfalls, volcanoes, obstacles, jungles, and windmills, among various others. 

However, this doesn’t mean that a regular golf course has no obstacles; it has its own natural and man-made obstacles. These obstacles are often referred to as hazards and include lakes, bunkers, bushes, penalty areas, and trees. 

Playing Time

Another distinctive difference between mini golf and regular golf is the playing time. Though both games feature an 18-hole course, it takes much longer to complete a regular golf game than a mini golf game. 

On the one hand, an average golf game takes about 3 to 4 hours on a standard 18-hole course, while on the other hand, a regular mini golf game lasts for about 30 – 45 minutes.

This is mainly because of the different layouts and sizes of the courses. While a regular golf course is spread across acres of land, mini golf is played on a much smaller scale. 

Amount of Players

Although you can play golf with as many people as you like, it is played with an average group size of 4. Playing regular golf with a group size that is larger will greatly increase the overall playing time. 

Comparatively, the number of players in mini golf typically ranges from 1 to 6 people per group. While the group size in mini golf tends to be more flexible, it’s usually set by the mini golf course. 

As the playing time for mini golf is rather short, playing with a larger group won’t affect the overall game length by a lot. 


When it comes to mini golf, players are handed a single putter and a golf ball for the entire 18-hole course. On the other hand, when playing regular golf, players typically bring along 10 – 12 clubs (wedges, putters, irons, etc.). 

Golf Equipment
Mini Golf Equipment

Each club has its purpose in golf, whereas mini golf only relies on putters. The reason for this is fairly simple: only putting is required when playing mini golf, as the courses are much smaller.

In addition to that, regular golfers usually bring 5 – 6 golf balls, as some of them may get lost or become unretrievable during a game. This is uncommon when playing mini golf. 


Regular golf is usually played with a certain dress code. For men, this usually means collared polos or button-down shirts, khakis, and slacks that rest over the top of spiked golfing shoes. For women, standard golfing attire includes collared shirts, knee-length dresses, or formal pants.

Being a fun and casual version of regular golf, mini golf attire doesn’t really follow any particular dress code. From denim clothes and polos to jumpers, sweat pants, and jackets, you can pretty much wear anything that you want at a mini golf course. 

However, we advise prioritizing comfort and function over style. Therefore it’s better to wear clothes that allow you to move freely. Feel free to check out our guide on the best mini golf outfits for ideas on what to wear. 


Usually played at public courses or in country clubs, golf can be expensive as you will need the right equipment, pay for cart fees, and in some cases require an annual club membership. While a golf game can range from $50 – $200 per person, annual memberships can range from five to six figures. 

On the other hand, mini golf is much more affordable as you don’t need to pay for anything other than the entrance fee to the theme park or the admission fee to the mini golf course. A typical game of mini golf costs about $5 – $15 per person. 


Mini golf is also more convenient than regular golf. Golfers typically bring several clubs and golf balls inside a golf bag. They’ll either need to hire a caddy or a golf cart when playing an 18-hole course. 

This is different when it comes to playing mini golf. Firstly, no equipment is required, as the putter and ball are provided by the facility. Secondly, players simply walk to the next hole, which is only a few feet away from the previous one. 

Thanks to indoor courses, mini golf can also be played regardless of weather conditions. Generally speaking, no special preparation is required and people usually play mini golf with an “arrive-and-play” mindset.