How to Keep Score in Mini Golf

Mini golf, also known as miniature golf or putt-putt, is a fun and entertaining recreational activity enjoyed by people of all ages. While it may not be as complex as traditional golf, keeping score in mini golf is an essential part of the game. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the basics of keeping score in mini golf, including the terminology, rules, and strategies.

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Scoring Basics

In mini golf, the objective is to complete each hole with as few strokes as possible. Unlike regular golf, where lower scores are better, in mini golf, higher scores are the goal. Each stroke you take to complete a hole adds to your score. The player with the fewest strokes at the end of the game wins.


Like in traditional golf, mini golf holes have a designated “par” score, which represents the expected number of strokes it should take an average player to complete the hole. Par values in mini golf typically range from 2 to 4 strokes per hole, with 3 being the most common.

Scoring Symbols

In mini golf, scoring is usually done using a combination of numbers and symbols to indicate how many strokes were taken on each hole. Here are some common scoring symbols:

  • Hole-in-One (HIO): This symbol is used when a player successfully completes a hole in just one stroke. It’s represented as “1” on the scorecard and is the best possible score for a hole.
  • Par: If you complete a hole in the same number of strokes as the designated par, you would simply write the par value on your scorecard. For example, if the par for a hole is 3 and you take 3 strokes, you’d write “3” on your scorecard.
  • Birdie: A birdie is a score of one stroke under par. If the par for a hole is 3, and you complete it in 2 strokes, you’d write “2” on your scorecard and may circle it to indicate a birdie.
  • Bogey: A bogey is a score of one stroke over par. If the par for a hole is 3, and you take 4 strokes, you’d write “4” on your scorecard.
  • Double Bogey: If you take two strokes more than par to complete a hole, it’s called a double bogey. For example, if the par is 3, and you take 5 strokes, you’d write “5” on your scorecard.

Keeping Score

To keep score in mini golf, you’ll need a scorecard. Most mini golf courses provide scorecards at the beginning of your round. Here’s how to fill it out:

  1. Hole Number: Write down the number of the hole you’re playing at the top of your scorecard.
  2. Player Names: Write down the names of the players in your group. Each player will have their own column for scores.
  3. Scoring: After completing a hole, write down the number of strokes it took each player to finish the hole in their respective columns.
  4. Total Score: Add up the scores for each player after every hole to keep a running total.
  5. Comparing Scores: At the end of the game, compare total scores to determine the winner. The player with the lowest total score is the winner.

Etiquette and Fair Play

  • Respect Other Players: Mini golf is a social game, so be courteous and considerate of other players. Wait your turn, don’t rush, and maintain a reasonable pace of play.
  • Observe Local Rules: Some mini golf courses have specific rules and guidelines for certain obstacles or hole designs. Pay attention to these rules, as they can affect your score.
  • Score Verification: It’s a good practice to verify each other’s scores after each hole to ensure accuracy.

Strategy Tips

  • Practice Putting: Spend some time practicing your putting skills, as accuracy and control are essential in mini golf.
  • Study the Course: Take a few minutes to examine each hole and plan your shots. Look for the best path to the hole and any potential hazards.
  • Control Your Power: It’s often better to putt with less power to maintain control, especially on tricky obstacles.
  • Stay Calm: Mini golf can be frustrating at times, but it’s important to stay calm and composed. Avoid rushing your shots, as this can lead to more strokes.

Scorecard Variations

While the basic scorekeeping method described above is the most common, some mini golf courses may have their own scorecard variations. For example, some scorecards may have spaces for tracking the number of hole-in-ones, birdies, and other achievements. Be sure to check the scorecard provided by the course you’re playing at and follow their specific instructions.

Tournament Play

Mini golf tournaments are a popular form of competitive play. In tournaments, players often compete over several rounds, and the winner is determined based on their cumulative score over all rounds. If you’re interested in tournament play, check with your local mini golf courses to see if they host such events and inquire about their specific rules and formats.

Friendly Wagers

Many groups of friends or families like to add a little extra excitement to their mini golf games by placing friendly wagers. You might decide on a small prize for the overall winner or create additional challenges within the game. Just remember that the primary goal is to have fun, and friendly competition should enhance the experience, not detract from it.

Mini Golf Handicaps

In some more organized mini golf leagues or tournaments, players may be assigned handicaps to level the playing field. A handicap is a numerical adjustment to a player’s score based on their skill level. Players with higher handicaps receive more strokes to complete the course than those with lower handicaps. Handicaps aim to make the game fairer when players of varying skill levels compete against each other.

Keeping Score Electronically

If you’d like to simplify the scorekeeping process or make it more high-tech, you can find mini golf scorekeeping apps or use note-taking apps on your smartphone. These apps often include features like automatic score calculations, which can save you time and make it easier to keep track of your scores during the game.

Celebrate Achievements

Mini golf is a game where small victories can be celebrated just as much as the overall win. If someone in your group achieves a hole-in-one or successfully navigates a particularly challenging obstacle, take a moment to celebrate their achievement. Positive reinforcement can make the game even more enjoyable.

Enjoy the Experience

Ultimately, keeping score in mini golf is just a small part of the overall experience. Whether you’re playing for fun with friends and family or competing in a more formal setting, remember that the primary goal is to have a good time. Embrace the fun, the challenges, and the camaraderie that mini golf offers, and don’t get too caught up in the numbers. Mini golf is all about creating memorable moments and enjoying a lighthearted game that can be enjoyed by people of all skill levels.

Scoring in Mini Golf

Scoring TermDescription
Hole-in-OneScoring 1 stroke to get the ball in the hole
ParThe standard number of strokes for a hole
BirdieScoring 1 stroke under par
BogeyScoring 1 stroke over par
Double BogeyScoring 2 strokes over par

Mini Golf Rules

Rule NumberRule Description
1Always wait for the group in front to clear the hole
2One stroke penalty for hitting the ball out of bounds
3Play the ball where it lies unless otherwise specified
4Keep your scorecard up to date as you play each hole
5The player with the lowest score wins the game


So, the next time you head to the mini golf course, keep these scoring tips in mind, but most importantly, savor the adventure and laughter that come with a game of mini golf.


How to Keep Score in Mini Golf


  • Anglo Carson

    Anglo Carson, a Certified Golf Instructor, embarked on a remarkable journey, driven by his unwavering love for golf. He founded The Golf Mine with a singular mission - to create a golfing haven where passion knows no boundaries. His lifelong love affair with golf, combined with his expertise as a Certified Golf Instructor, turned into a vision to share his extensive knowledge, inspire, and promote the game he holds dear.

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