HomeArticlesLifestyleMajor Milestone as Putt Putt Mini Golf Turns 50
Putt Putt Mermaid Beach

Major Milestone as Putt Putt Mini Golf Turns 50

Helen Stubbs | September 2019

Fun is one of the things the Gold Coast is known for, and nothing says fun for all the family like Putt Putt, the miniature golf course.

Since 1969, the Wykoff and Norton families have been the driving force behind Putt Putt Mermaid Beach.

With their 50th anniversary coming up, We Are Gold Coast asked them to share their insights into managing a successful entertainment business.

Changing with the times has been a key strategy, says Putt Putt manager, Collette Harvey, as the venue aims to continually improve customer experiences and sustainability in the business and environmental sense.

Tom Wykoff introduced Putt Putt to Australia in Surfers Paradise in 1969. Two years later, he purchased the block in Mermaid Beach for $30,000. He dug the holes for the light posts and built the original features himself. The venue is still located there today, though now the light bulbs have been upgraded to LEDs, an investment which decreased Putt Putt’s running costs and carbon footprint.

“I realised Putt Putt was in the business of happiness, not just competitiveness,” says Wykoff, and that ethos is reflected in the game. Unlike other miniature golf courses, each Putt Putt obstacle is designed to be achievable with a hole-in-one.

“It’s a combination of golf and snooker,” says Harvey.

With the opening of the city’s first McDonalds right next door in 1975, Putt Putt was enshrined as an epicenter of family fun. Over the next decade the chain expanded to 20 other locations around Australia.

The Wykoffs and Nortons have continually employed a hands-on approach, both behind the counter and on the course. Lorna Norton became the first Australian Ladies Professional Mini Golf Putter in 1970, and still works behind the counter with daughter and manager, Collette.

After starting out as a range of simple golf putting greens, with 18 holes per course, the courses specialised into three themes: Jungle Trail, Waterways and Fun Run.

“We’re always upgrading, revamping and installing new features on our courses,” says Harvey. These include loop-the-loops, windmills, turning obstacles, swings and playhouses.

The Waterways course, unique to Australia, began as a haven for fish and turtles, lucky enough to snack on leftovers from the onsite doughnut shop. These days the course has been upgraded into a blue lagoon, complete with fountains, waterfalls and a challenging jump over cascading water.

“Waterways is a serious show stopper once the sun sets,” Harvey says. “It transforms into a sea of colour with sparkling fairy lights.”

When the game is won, winners can pose for pictures in the Game of Thrones style champion seat, built with golf clubs instead of swords.

Conscious of keeping players cool in warm weather, Putt Putt utilises passive environmental temperature influencers, with extensive shading and natural features.

“With so many trees throughout the courses and the extensive lagoon in Waterways, we create a cooler environment,” says Harvey.

The oasis of native plants is a longtime home to Spike the kookaburra, nesting in a palm tree above the kiosk.

“She loves to watch people playing and has become a star attraction,” says Harvey. “We’re also conscious of minimising waste to protect her environment, so we recycle bottles and cans for Scouts Australia.”

For Putt Putt’s 50th Birthday celebration on Saturday 21st September, they’re offering all inclusive tickets, with unlimited mini golf, as well as sausage sizzles, face painting, balloon twisting, fairy floss, a kids’ hole-in-one challenge, a putting competition, entertainer Dean Bonday, a dress up glow party, a prize draw and a PPA and friends of Putt Putt reunion. Spike the kookaburra might might even swoop down for a laugh!


Putt Putt Mermaid Beach

2429 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach

50th Birthday Celebration

Tickets from $15

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