All over the city, Londoners are gently stroking balls, filling holes and gripping their shafts. That’s right: there’s a crazy golf boom. What did you think we were talking about? Time Out’s own Tiger Woods (but without all the shagging) Alexi Duggins gives you a guide to where to engage in advanced foreplay around London.
What’s the vibe? Nominally themed to Herman Melville’s 1851 literary opus, ‘Moby Dick’, albeit with more geezers yelling ‘OI OI!’, this 18-hole course in Dagenham is supposedly inspired by whale bones that sat at the toll-booth on nearby Whalebone Lane for most of the 18th Century. There’s a 60-metre lagoon dyed the colour of blue Toilet Duck, an eight-metre waterfall and a hole that involves putting through the 9ft mouth of a replica sperm whale. Their claim to be the UK’s biggest course of its type could mean anything, really – but it’s definitely fun.
Difficulty factor? Moderate. But be warned: it’s easier than you’d think to land your ball in the water. 3/5
Craziness factor? The website claims the course is inspired by ‘Moby Dick, the legendary whale washed up in Dagenham in 1790.’ Moby Dick: based in Dagenham? This course is inspired by the area, alright: it’s totally Barking. 5/5.
Cranfield Golf Centre, Romford. RM6 6SB. Chadwell Heath rail. www.golfkingdom.net. Mon-Fri 10am-9pm, Sat-Sun 10am-7pm. £9.
What’s the vibe? Crazy golf goes Shoreditch. Created by the brains behind Winterwell festival, this nine-hole course in an EC1 warehouse boasts on-course wardens serving you drinks, street-food stalls from the likes of Pizza Pilgrims, DJs, two bars, plus a ‘tenth hole’ competition where punters compete to win a £100 bar tab by knocking down skittles with the strength of their putt. Oh, and it’s all dominated by a replica 1920s clubhouse; strewn with fake ivy and packed with vintage furniture.
Difficulty factor? You’ll need to circumnavigate a loop-the-loop and pull off an aerial chip over a ramp. 4/5
Craziness factor? Boozing is encouraged, ferchrissakes. While. You. Play. 4/5
Factory 7, 7-11 Hearn Street, EC2A 3LS. Old Street/Liverpool Street tube. www.swingersldn.co.uk. Thur-Sat 6.30pm-12am (Last admissions 11.15pm). £8.
Jurassic Encounter Adventure Golf
What’s the vibe? If Michael Crichton had written about DNA cloning’s miraculous potential to create putting hazards, this is what Jurassic Park would’ve been like. Right down to the theme tune they blare from the speakers every 20 minutes or so.
Difficulty factor? Fairly straightforward. 3/5
Craziness factor? Not much in terms of the holes, but the course’s fringing is awesome: Velociraptors loom from lakes of blood and giant diplodoci stand stark against the skyline as animatronic dinos bark at golfers. 4/5
World of Golf, Beverley Way, New Malden, KT3 4PH. New Malden/Raynes Park rail. Mon-Fri 9am-9pm, Sat-Sun 9am-9pm. www.tinyurl.com/TOjurassic. £9.
Dragon Quest Adventure Golf
What’s the vibe? Expect high-pitched company at this 18-hole Croydon course – it’s so child-friendly that club hire takes place at a gift shop full of plastic swords, axes and daggers cum-bubble wands. Pathways are stamped with luminous green dragon footprints, one hole’s set in a massive castle turret and there’s also a plaster dragon’s tail jutting from the top of a replica waterfall.
Difficulty factor? Moderate. Although even St George would struggle with the dragon’s den hole that involves you sinking a ball while a speaker pipes a deafening squeal of serpent rage into your ear. 3/5
Craziness factor? Gotta love a course that dumps a giant trebuchet amidst proceedings. Just a shame it’s not actually part of a hole. 3/5
World of Golf, Croydon, 175 Long Lane, CR0 7TE. Elmers End rail. Mon-Sun 9-7pm, Sat-Sun 9-7pm. www.tinyurl.com/TOdragonq. £8.
Lost Island Adventure Golf
What’s the vibe? ‘Everything but the kitchen sink’. This slightly faded 36-hole attraction – made up of two separate 18-hole courses – features a wrecked aircraft, inexplicable dinosaurs and a menagerie of plastic animals, dominated by a gorilla whose jutting bottom lip suggests he’s just remembered that he left the gas on. Odd, but kinda charming.
Difficulty factor? Expect to find yourself chipping balls onto a small shelf, squeezing through a tiny hole in a cement pillar and other challenges that are a total pain in the putt. 4/5
Craziness factor? To tie it all together, they’ve invented a curious narrative where players are supposedly journeying around the fictional island of Manuwago, which travels around the oceans at will. Nutso. 5/5
World of Golf, Sidcup, A20, Sidcup By-pass, BR7 6RP. New Eltham rail. www.tinyurl.com/TOlostisle Mon-Fri 9am-9pm, Sat-Sun 10am-8pm. £8 Sat-Sun, £5 Mon-Fri.
Looks like Psychic Sonya’s predictions were spot on!