Last Updated on March 30, 2023 by Jeremy
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We are big fans of all things mini golf, and when the indoor-themed mini golf course, Puttery, opened in the Strip District in 2023, we knew we had to go right away.
Themed mini golf courses seem to be a hot commodity as they combine uniquely designed courses with a restaurant and bar space to make for a place to spend an entire evening hanging out with friends.
Whether you want a drink and a meal before your course, a drink while playing, or a bit of everything, this 21+ establishment offers a ton of fun. That being said, this one comes at a price to match!
Puttery Brings a Loaded Bar to Putt Putt
The structure of Puttery is an interesting one. The establishment spans two floors, with three putt-putt courses, two bars, plus bar service with unique custom cocktails for each course for good measure.
During our visit when Puttery first opened, they had three available courses, 9 holes per course, with the themes of the Library, Garage, and Lodge- each with their own unique decorations that had vibes similar to what you would expect from an escape room. We opted to play the Library course and the theming really felt like we were in a library with some twists like Pittsburgh-centric decor, a full knight suit of armor, and a dinosaur skeleton below a flaming asteroid about to make impact. Quirky, but in a good way.
The greens here, we have to admit, are quite small. Some were just 10 feet from tee to hole, while others were just a bit longer. Most tees here incorporated one or two challenging elements be it a grade change, obstacle, or for the final hole a skee-ball-like setup where hitting the center hole was an immediate win with the others dumping you out elsewhere on the course.
The simplicity of the holes made for hitting the extremes here. We often either got the putts in a hole in one (or two, par for most), or could never sink one in six (or in our case, 10+ because we kept trying til we got it). So while some of the holes here look deceptively simple, many of them are anything but.
Our round ultimately came down to hole #9. We entered with me besting Angie by a few points thanks to a few key hole-in-ones, but as I tapped out at six and her nailing it in three she savored a come-from-behind victory to be champion of the day. That said, being +9 and +11 over par was not something we expected for a course that looks as simple as this one did.
On the libations side of things, we sampled several signature cocktails including BBQ on a Saturday Night (bourbon, honey, smoked peach, lemon, and bitters) as well as Good Sound & Beach Bound (rum, lime cordial, coconut creme, and bitters) and rather enjoyed the unique flavor profiles of each despite them leaning a bit on the sweeter side for our preference. But beyond these, the bar also has a stocked beer list and wine so they really have something for everyone here.
Perhaps our favorite part about the bar program at Puttery is that each course has a server taking drink orders as you play, and each starting tee has a drink rack below the digital scorecards, making drinking and putt-putting a breeze. Yes, drinking and playing is encouraged here!
The Structure of Puttery is a Bit Unusual
When it comes down to it, we have a few concerns about Puttery that are worth mentioning before you make a reservation.
First, there is the reservation system. Puttery opens up bookings ten days in advance with 90-minute windows (e.g. 5:30 – 7 pm, 7 – 8:30 pm, etc.). While this seems relatively straightforward, it is worth noting that booking a 5:30 to 7 pm window does not mean that you can start play at precisely 5:30.
When you arrive (they recommend arriving 10-15 minutes before your window start time), you'll be given a choice of timeslots/courses available to start playing in rolling five-minute intervals. You may get lucky and snag a timeslot right at 5:30, or if you are the last to show up you may be stuck with a 6:55 pm tee time.
We got to choose between a tee time as soon as we arrived or another 20 minutes later and selected the latter to get a round of drinks at the bar before. But if you booked a 5:30 timeslot, had dinner reservations elsewhere in the Strip District at 6:30, and got offered the last 6:55 pm timeslot, you could have a problem. As such, go into this one knowing your actual tee time and course of play is not decided until you check-in.
Second, how long you play depends on your group size and the speed of those in front of you. We will be honest that we probably could've played through an entire course in 20 minutes, but because there was a large group in front of us it slowed us down to ~40 minutes.
This, again, could play into timing if your visit to Puttery is part of a larger night out. But for us, we simply wish we could've had the option to play all three courses at once to make it a complete experience.
Finally, there is cost. As of opening in 2023, a single round at Puttery was $18 per person before tax. After one game, two orders of drinks, and tips, we spent well over $100 for about an hour long date night.
As such, while Puttery is a fun experience for some adult libations and mini golf in the Strip District, some quirks are hard to overlook. Did we enjoy ourselves? Absolutely. Will we be rushing back to try the other courses we did not get to try? That, I am not so sure.
Either way, go into your Puttery experience knowing these points, and you're going to have a much more enjoyable experience all around!
Puttery is located at 1415 Smallman St in the Strip District.
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