1. Practice your putts.
No matter how many windmills and waterfalls they throw at you, miniature golf is really just a series of putting greens. Grip the putter securely, and swing from the shoulders, not the wrists. Don’t shift your feet, and keep the putter face square.
2. Walk the course.
Become familiar with the obstacles and tricks if you’re playing adventure-style golf, and the layout of the holes if it’s a more traditional putt-putt course. Your miniature golf score card may give you an overview of the course, along with the par for each hole.
3. Focus on the hole.
Tune out distractions like revolving wickets and fire breathing dragons by maintaining a Zen-like concentration. Winning at miniature golf can also mean overcoming off-course distractions like mosquitoes (a hazard of night play) and summer thunderstorms, and navigating unplanned obstacles like wandering toddlers, spilled ice cream cones and the occasional squirrel.
4. Save strokes.
To stay on or below par, avoid hitting too hard (it’s putting, not the long game). Look for direct-route alternatives which skip the castle drawbridge or water hazard; they’re usually hidden in little-noticed corners. Bank putts off bumpers and other obstacles and check your second-shot lie from both sides of the hole to choose the best angle.
5. Take your game to the next level.
Once you’ve amazed your family and friends, and allowed your minigolfing buddies to buy you a round of root beers at the snack bar, it may be time to think about hitting the tour or turning pro. The World Minigolf Sport Foundation runs competitions like the British Open International Minigolf Tournament, the US ProMiniGolf Tour sponsors its own Masters and for more serious putt-putters there’s the Professional Putters Association.