Brothers playing mini golf at Interbay Golf Center in Seattle. Credit: JiaYing Grygiel
Golf: It's the perfect sport for social distancing
Golf, it turns out, is a sport that’s built for social distancing. After months and months of staying home, a relatively safe and inexpensive outdoor activity is just what my family needed for our sanity.
Enter mini golf! We played the putt-putt course at Seattle's Interbay Golf Center — with rampant cheating and complete disregard of the rules. At times, I wasn’t sure if we were playing putt-putt or field hockey, but everyone was having so much fun, I went with it.
The mini-golf course at Interbay is nicely landscaped, with mature trees, mini waterfalls and fountains. It’s peaceful and green and in the middle of the city. Eighteen compact holes was just right for my kids' short attention spans. My boys had a great time and I spent a total of $13 ($6.50 per youth).
Read on for details on our Interbay experience, and page ahead for our list of mini-golf courses around the Puget Sound region where you'll find the ideal putt-putt outing for your family.
Get your bearings
Upon arrival at Interbay, I left the kids waiting outside and went into the pro shop by myself to pay for our round. There’s a big sign at the entrance reading, “STOP! Masks required.” (There are masks for sale if you need one.) Stanchions direct traffic one way to the front desk, where there are plexi-glass barriers and hand sanitizer ready. Payment is contact-free, by debit or credit card only.
In pre-pandemic times, there used to be a rack at the front entrance holding all the putters of different heights, and another rack with a rainbow of balls. Now the putters and balls are kept behind the desk. Bringing your own equipment is recommended, but there is loaner gear available and it is sanitized between uses.
The café inside is open, with credit or debit card purchases only. Get your grab-and-go food, or, for those ages 21 or older, beer by the can (not by the pitcher). There’s spaced-out seating on the patio outside where you can eat your snacks and watch the big boys practice their swings.
The putt-putt experience
Mini golf felt to me like a relatively low-risk activity, certainly when compared to a higher-contact sport such as basketball or football. There’s no shared equipment, and it’s got built-in social distance. We played outside and each self-contained group (up to 5 people are allowed together) are naturally spread out. On the course, we noticed that the flags at each hole have been removed to reduce contact. Everyone wore masks inside the pro shop as required, but outside, most people took them off because it was easy to maintain distance.
Interbay is open long hours during the summer, 7 a.m.–9 p.m. Something that’s open early for kids who are up at the crack of dawn — hooray! Walk-ins are welcome all day, though we suggest going in the morning when it’s typically less crowded.
All ages can play
One great thing about mini golf is that it’s fun for all ages, and there’s no prerequisite skill set. They’ve even got toddler-sized putters. The teen behind us worked on his grip and technique; the little kids in front of us had just as much fun throwing their balls into the hole instead of using their putters. When you’re flexible about the rules, the game is fun for everyone.
If you’ve still got energy after finishing the putt-putt course, the two-story driving range is also surprisingly affordable: $6 for a small bucket of 35 balls, up to $15 for a jumbo bucket of 160 balls. My kids love the view from the second level, but you might want to stay downstairs if you’re worried about runners falling over the edge.
Page ahead for all 8 great mini-golf courses for Puget Sound-area kids and families.