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Nature Trail Mini Golf

Located in a small village in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, Maini’s Hill Cottages is a family run luxury homestay. The place is surrounded by fruit orchards and nooks of dense forest trees. With a breathtaking view of the Himalayan snow-covered peaks, the place is well suited for families planning a relaxing vacation. The owner of the homestay wanted to make the property more interesting for the people planning their stay there. He contacted me to design & setup a picturesque Mini Golf at his homestay. 

For those who are not quite familiar with Mini Golf, it is the miniature version of Golf game which is played on a very compact Golf Course (Mini Golf Course)  just using a putter and a Golf ball. As in real Golf, mini golf courses usually have nine or eighteen holes and the objective is to hit the Mini Golf ball into the hole with as few strokes as possible. Mini Golf  is the most popular form of Golf entertainment for people of all ages as it is an interesting take on regular Golf that involves only the last stage of the game, putting! 

Though Mini Golf sounds simple, designing and implementing the project requires a lot of effort in planning to make sure that it’s interesting and experiential everytime you play it. There is a very thin line between it being interesting and frustrating that’s why every corner of the course requires careful calculation. 

The project at Maini’s Hill Cottages was a challenge for us. The chosen land was very undulating and has very steep contours. We made sure that the natural terrain is respected with minimal earthworks and no trees are cut during construction, which is aligned to our sustainable design philosophy which revolves around striking a balance between, Playability, Pulchritude (Beauty) & Practicality. 

Limited budget and natural steep terrain made the project challenging & interesting for me to design. The patience and keenness of the owner encouraged the project team in spite of challenges they may have to face. Initial few weeks were spent discussing the project, finalizing the layout, and designing the course. Just as the initial phase was over, the pandemic happened.

Once the lockdowns were eased a little, our team travelled to the homestay again, and the implantation of the project started. Due to lock-downs, a lot of villagers were left jobless and had returned back to their native place after quitting their job in the cities. 

The philanthropic mindset of the owner helped the villagers to take up the construction work. The requirement was for a few workers but a lot of them knocked on the door.  Everyone who came was welcomed. Anyone who could do anything was part of the working team. Some carried the rocks and other material from one place to other, others helped in preparation of the surface, a few kept a tab on work going on. The Mini Golf army was getting trained to accomplish the mission. The terrain was tough and sometimes the material had to be transported down the steep slopes with the help of ponies. In this age of technology, it was interesting to see how these ancient methods were in use.

To save costs of the project, we used whatever material was available locally. Not a single tree was cut. Most of them were incorporated in the design to become a feature within the Mini Golf Course. The name ‘Nature Trail Mini-Golf’ somehow seemed to emerge on its own. The meandering pathways through a natural vegitative garden and orchard, with wild flowers and tall trees, gave a very earthy feel to it. Artificial grass was used in the putting greens to save on water and to avoid use of any chemicals. The rain water falling on the greens was also very carefully redirected and utilized.

Nature Trail Mini Golf combines the fun of crazy golfing with some serious putting greens. For the non-golfers, this takes just a few minutes to learn. For the seasoned golfers, this is challenging and fun. After all, most games are lost or won in the putting and that is what Mini Golf is all about.

Nature Trail Mini Golf @ The Maini’s Hills Cottages is a true blend of artificial grass and natural vegetation which not only makes it look so beautiful but also makes it a nice track to walk while playing.  I would highly recommend you to visit this environment friendly Mini Golf which is crafted with love to make the guests relax and enjoy in the lap of nature. 

-The author is a Golf Course Architect at AV GOLF DESIGN and is a pioneer in building & promoting Miniature Golf Courses in India. 


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