- Harriet Clugston
Only a couple of years ago you’d be hard pushed to find a crazy golf venue in London not overrun with screaming children. Fast forward to today and many still are, but now they’re joined by more boozy options pitching to the discerning, still-a-child-at-heart adult. With golf-themed cocktails, DJ sets and more street food than you can shake a club at, crazy-golf bars are the new place to be.
Plonk Crazy Golf
Operating in four venues across London, Plonk’s golf game is seriously above par. Plonk Dalston was the first to open in the trendy watering hole that is Efes Pool Hall and remains the most ramshackle and OTT of the lot, with colourful, tiki-inspired décor and lashings of UV paint – this is crazy golf at peak crazy. Their Hackney and Brixton courses are al fresco, in the beer gardens of Victoria Park’s People’s Park Tavern and The Duke of Edinburgh respectively, allowing golfers to take advantage of great food and drink. The fourth course is indoors in Battersea’s The Four Thieves, an old Victorian Music Hall, and the smallest space of the bunch – but size is far from everything. The fun doesn’t stop with the golf here, with a massive games room just upstairs, packed with ping pong, vintage arcade games and even a mini-motor racing track.
Plonk Dalston, Efes Bar, 17B Stoke Newinton Road, London, UK, +44 20 7249 6040
Dragon Quest Adventure Golf
To the delight of South London’s kids, Dragon Quest offers 18 holes of dragon-themed entertainment, with massive dragon models that are disappointingly static. The course is filled with fun features including monster footprints dotting the paths, turrets, caves, siege weaponry and plenty of water features, all washed down with shrieking, serpentine sound effects.
World of Golf, 175 Long Lane, Croydon, UK, +44 20 8656 1690
It’s over to West London now, with Dinosaur Escape, an 18-hole, Florida-style golf venue, which makes like the Americans and goes big. The dinosaur models here are almost life-size and are animatronic, moving, breathing and roaring – just don’t let them put off your game. This course is filled with jungle-style foliage, fossil rock paths, a vast blue lagoon, and some blood-red water cascades à la Jurassic Park (as well as some inexplicable purple).
West London Golf Centre, Ruislip Road, Northolt, UK, +44 20 8842 3438
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Mr Mulligan’s Dino Golf
So we’re definitely sensing a theme emerging here. It’s not just the dinosaurs that are monstrous at this South London venue. With a whopping 36-holes, the course itself is a bit of a beast – apparently, there used to be a choice of two, which have now merged together. Again geared to little ones, the eponymous Mr Mulligan character and his dog, Doug, join up with a chain of adventure-themed crazy-golf venues across the country, with a variety of themes from Jurassic to nautical – a perfect excuse for a family road trip?
Mr Mulligan’s Dino Gold, A20 Sidcup Bypass, Chislehurst, UK, +44 20 8309 0181
A photo posted by Nick Bentley (@njb1986) on
Time for some adult fun now – no, not that kind. London’s first dedicated crazy-golf bar, Swingers opened at the base of the Gherkin this May after a successful pop-up version last summer. The brainchild of the Institute of Competitive Socialising (who believe ‘that life is better when it includes an element of competition’), Swingers incorporates two nine-hole courses, five bars serving golf-themed cocktails and a plethora of street food vendors into a 16,000-square-foot underground space, all modelled on a 1920’s English country golf club. Filled with faux foliage – trees, ivy and wildflowers – and timber gazebos, the mainstay of the venue is a two-storey clubhouse with a gin terrace. As crazy-golf venues go, it’s a pretty special sight – as, by the by, is their fabulously floral website.
Swingers, 8 Brown’s Buildings, London, UK, +44 20 3846 3222
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What was a sell-out subterranean crazy-golf course last winter has upped sticks, pitching up atop Stratford’s Roof East – introducing one hell of a view into an already winning formula. The nine-hole course itself is a tricky devil, filled with loops, half-pipe ramps, tubes and an elevated drop. Run by pop-up cinema masters, Rooftop Film Club, the food and drink side of things is unsurprisingly strong, with craft beers galore, cocktails courtesy of Spirited Mixers and RockaDollar Dogs from Hawksmoor, all complemented by sets from Resident DJs.
Birdies, Roof East, 7 & 8 Stratford Multi-Storey Car Park, Great Eastern Way, London, UK, +44 20 7635 6655
This pop-up course is one not to be missed. The offshoot of Manchester’s permanent venue, Junkyard Golf invaded Brick Lane’s Old Truman Brewery for three months this summer, taking London by storm in the process. This ramshackle course is made up of – as you can imagine – pieces of junk, ranging from twisted bits of genuine rubbish to simply tat-you-might-find-at-a-car-boot sale. Putt your way past mannequin-filled jacuzzis, through a graveyard where washing machines go to die, and under plastic cows. There’s a gritty ambience throughout, with a UV neon room, graffiti and blaring techno tunes – and, of course, the obligatory bars and street food.
Junkyard Golf, Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, London, UK
WE'RE BASICALLY SOLD OUT THIS WEEKEND FOR CRAZY GOLF EATS, BEATS & BOOZE!! You COULD risk popping in or you could visit our new baby brother, CAFE DEL PAR at Last Days of Shoreditch! www.cafedelpar.co.uk
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