The Putting Course


The first putting course was born adjacent to the first ever golf course in St. Andrews, Scotland.  The Ladies Putting Club of St. Andrews was born in 1867 and I feel it will one day prove to be the greatest revolution in a sport that has come to outgrow its knickers, if you know what I mean.  In a day and age where the hardest hitters in the game can hit the ball over a quarter mile (450 yards), when do we take a step back and suggest there are other ways to play this game – ways that can be accessed by any level of golfer, at any age or ability, and through ways which place an ownness on touch and finesse, strategy and judgement, rather than just power and athleticism. The putting course is one of those ways.

The Ladies Putting Club of St. Andrews. Old Tom Morris second left.

The Putting Course as one large golf green, random hole locations and infinite "course layouts"

There will always be a place for miniature golf – but a putting course is far from the same thing.

There are a couple of different variations of putting courses that are becoming popular today.  One includes one large expanse of grass with rollie pollies and dips and doodles all over.  Generally, a natural grass surface where the greens keeper can change the hole locations regularly.  If the green is large enough, with reasonable elevation changes and those rollie pollies I spoke of, then the options for “course layouts” are almost limitless.  Here are some examples of this type of putting course:

The Himalayas - St. Andrews (aka The Ladies Putting Club of St. Andrews)
The Punchbowl - Bandon Dunes, Oregon
Tom Watson Putting Course - Big Cedar Lodge, Missouri

The obvious issue with these types of Putting Courses is that they are tied to places that arn’t very accessible.  They are larger than life and more fun than you can imagine, but they take a lot of time and money to keep perfect, and for that reason rely on patrons with expendable money to be able to visit their facilities.  That being said, if you can get to these places I would be surprised if anyone gave you any grief for utilizing the putting course.  They are generally free to use.

Two examples of putting greens in our communitiues are Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, BC and Sam Walker Park in North Vancouver, BC.  Stanley Park used to have one as well.

My friend Jeff grew up on the Island and recently brought his kids to putt at Beacon Hill Park.  “Four generations of my family have now enjoyed using this golf green.”, he said, fondly remembering his Grandpa taking him there when he was younger.

Sam Walker Park in North Vancouver have trail blazed a path to bringing this fun amenity into their community.

Beacon Hill Park, Victoria, BC
Sam Walker Park, North Vancouver, BC

This type of putting course is only beginning to see its day.  Golf Course Managers, Municipalities and Developers are all beginning to see the brilliance in this fun, low-cost amenity – and those that get to use them will benefit the most.

The Putting Course as a defined 18 hole layout

The second kind of putting course is like a championship style, full-sized golf course but scaled way down in size to be played purely with a putter and a ball.  There will be a natural look and include thoughtful strategy and risk-reward.  You will see a beautiful, contoured hole with a short-mown putting surface, a second cut of fringe and a third cut of deep rough.  There will be water hazards and sand traps to avoid all while admiring the course surroundings and its natural beauty.  It is like playing golf on a smaller scale – a scale that all abilities can try for a fraction of the price of a round of golf.  Here are some great examples of this style of putting course:

Tap Ins Putting Course in Cultus Lake, BC. My jaw literally dropped when I saw this place for the first time 20 years ago or so.
Poppy Estates Putting Course in BC

There are pro’s and con’s to natural grass depending on the size and setting of the putting course.  In some instances it makes sense to use synthetic turf.

A Pete and Alice Dye designed putting course at the Children's Museum in Indionapolis
The Tiger Woods designed "Pop Stroke" is a franchise that is spreading throughout the USA
Putting Courses are popping up around the US to complement existing golf courses and driving ranges, or to simply stand alone with complementing food and beverage businesses.

There is a culture growing around this aspect of the game of golf, for good reason.  It is inclusive.  It brings the game down in size so that almost anyone can try it, and have fun at it, while breaking down the obvious barriers of time, money, and accessibility.

I have personally designed and built a few smaller putting courses and miniature golf’s but I have been dreaming up a version of a putting course that will be a fun, beautiful and an inclusive place for the entire community go.  I hope to one day show it to you.

Thanks for reading,


If you are interested in going down the rabbit hole of all things putting, The Major Series of Putting (MSOP) is a tell tale sign that putting is beginning to take on a life, and competitiveness, of its own.

2 thoughts on “The Putting Course”

  1. This is a fantastic presentation of what is possible. So many dead unused spaces around where people could be having fun just like the ladies at St Andrews.

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