The world’s gone mad, but you know what’s really sensible? Golf. It’s all pastel polo shirts tucked into smart trousers, with a side order of “I’m too fat for tennis”. Well, no longer. London is home to multiple venues exploring the unhinged side of golf in a boozy manner. This is a long way from divorced dad-filled courses in fading resort towns, where the windmills are too rusty to rotate and all the moats have Sainsbury’s bags in. This is hipster crazy golf.
First up, Swingers (£13 a round). It’s located underneath the Gherkin, houses two nine-hole courses with a verandah-type set up, lots of well-stocked bars and food from Patty & Bun, Hoppers and Pizza Pilgrims. If someone you didn’t like at work told you they’d spent the weekend at Uncle Monty’s garden party, it’s what you’d picture them at, but indoors. It’s delightful, and you can order a stein of beer mid-swing from an iPad-toting waiter, but it’s not, like, crazy. It’s quite posh, with suits everywhere, and posh things are never crazy, just eccentric. It feels like a lot of the clientele probably play actual grown-up golf. Really nice, very stealable pencils though.
Junkyard Golf in the Old Truman Brewery (£8.50 a round) offers four different nine-hole courses covered in fibreglass livestock (the luchador bears are pretty impressive), knackered white goods and bars every few holes. Cocktails come in frat-party red cups, the holes have endearingly crap puns for names (We Found Love In A Soapless Place, B*tch Don’t Kill My Tribe etc) and queues build next to all the photo opportunities. It’s an incredibly Instagrammable environment with really phone-unfriendly lighting, which if anything adds to the insanity. Very fun, but the queues are frustrating.
Plonk (£7.50 a round) has an impressive five venues scattered across London, soaked in UV paint and made of plywood, tyres and dreams. Their Dalston course is like the set of Hook redecorated by the director of Batman Forever, but in the side room of a snooker hall. It’s all ramshackle and homemade and fluorescent and brilliant, and run in an incredibly chilled manner where you can keep going round and round until you get bored.
Hole 5 has a big zig-zaggy bit that is vastly more satisfying than it has any right to be. It takes you into a place of perfect peace and zen and hyper-sanity, and then on Hole 6 you tw*t your ball off a windmill and lose your sh*t again. Beautiful times. We have a winner.
There seems no reason why crazy golf shouldn’t become a massive thing. It easily lends itself to classiness, trendiness or silliness, and it’s definitely better than real golf. It’s indoors, isn’t in the middle of nowhere, doesn’t take all goddamn day and you don’t have to wear bizarre trousers. Plus they all sell booze. Regular golf has been famously described as “a long walk, ruined”. Maybe crazy golf is a trip to the pub, improved. Test the theory at Plonk.