[Ad] Dan and I were recently invited to visit Puttshack, a new indoor miniature golf venue in Lakeside, Essex. I had no idea what to expect, but as dates are few and far between these days, we jumped at the chance. Plus I wanted to prove to my husband that I could whoop his butt.
We’d arranged to arrive at 6pm, alas we’d not accounted for the volume of traffic – seems there are still a lot of people in the world who like to go out in the evening – who knew?
We also had to find the venue, which is right in the middle of the ‘new bit’ of Lakeside, close to the boardwalk…except we didn’t know there was a new bit because we’ve been at home parenting for so long. So what would have been very easy to locate ended up in a wild goose chase when the satnav took us to a back entrance that we were unable to drive through. So I’ve hopefully saved you that trouble.
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I hate being unprofessional so to keep my anxiety at bay I called ahead to warn them that we’d be a bit late. Frustratingly the telephones went to a message advising that they were now closed and to leave a message. We had no choice but to turn up when we got there – which turned out be an embarrassing 45 minutes late. Cringe.
Puttshack, Lakeside – First Impressions
It looked like a nightclub! Huge building, bright lights, loud music.
As I said, I didn’t know what to expect, but it certainly wasn’t this! The entrance was vast and took us straight upstairs into the main room, which was centred around a bar, with golf courses winding around it. Having never done anything like this, it was bizarre!
It was getting dark, there was a DJ – and golf! There appeared not to be a reception as such, with courses being bookable using banks of computers at the entrance. It was like nothing we’d ever seen, and ever so slightly intimidating: we’re getting old, we’re most likely to be found in dressing gowns and slippers watching Suits on a Saturday night rather than in a nightclub. It’s an environment that’s undoubtedly outside of our comfort zone now!
But do not for one moment think this is a negative post. Because it’s not.
Welcome to Puttshack, Lakeside!
We were invited for dinner and a round of drinks, before having a round of golf. The manager found us and was very welcoming. I apologised profusely for being late and he immediately put me at ease, explaining to me that it’s totally standard because of the weight of traffic nearby. We were directed to some tables for refreshments, and we chose to sit on the balcony outside.
I couldn’t quite believe how lovely the vista was from our table. It helped that we had gorgeous weather and the sun was just going down, but it looked out over water and the lights gave an atmospheric quality to the evening.
I noted that there were lots of families around, though the children thinned out as it got later, and my understanding is that there’s a cut off after which they’re no longer allowed to play.
Food and Drink
To give you an idea of the menus on offer, the cocktail list was about as long as the food options. To be honest, being quite indecisive, I actually prefer fewer options and what was available was ideal. It’s not gourmet dining, but it’s decent bar food. And they cater for vegans which is becoming more mainstream of course, but is still appreciated.
I ordered nachos and That’s What Cheese Said pizza and a cocktail, and Dan ordered fish finger dips and a burger.
I know I’m a bit sad, but one of my favourite parts of the entire evening were the puns in the menu.
The meal was fairly casual with the food coming out as and when rather than altogether, but I’m unsure whether it would be different if they were less busy. And it was packed – not so much when we arrived, but by the time we’d finished eating it was heaving. Despite only opening in August 2019, it’s clearly a very popular venue for a night out.
After we’d eaten our mains we ordered a couple of desserts (this menu was a little too basic for my tastes), and I was looking forward to my brownie and trying Dan’s churros which were very tasty.
Unfortunately even after chasing my brownie it didn’t appear, and being eager to play golf and relieve our babysitter we made the (very painful) decision to leave before it arrived.
Puttshack Indoor Miniature Golf
The pièce de résistance!
This is where the magic happens. Puttshack has four courses and it’s honestly just beyond comprehension – you have to see it to believe it. The courses are insane. Bright and colourful, clever, interactive – it’s clear to see that this enterprise has been heavily invested in – and it shows.
Incredibly, you don’t have to keep score because your golf ball is equipped with a chip and linked to the overhead computers which do all that for you. This also means that rather than queuing up you’re able to switch up the order of the holes and go to whichever is free. It’s very, very smart and very, very cool.
Essentially, it was not our usual chilled out recreational date. But if you throw yourself into the idea of a night out then it’s a very fun experience.
I can totally see why it’s popular, and I think it’s fab to have an objective for an evening – ideal for awkward first dates I should imagine! But also a great date for husband/wife teams (if you don’t live with a sore loser) or fun to do with friends.
I really can’t rate it highly enough on the entertainment front.
I think that for daytime, it’s exactly the sort of alternative but really fun activity we’d love to do as a family. It might be slightly too old for the girls right now, but we’ll definitely bear it in mind for as they get older.
We chose to go round just once due to the kids, but by the time we’d finished and if we’d not had responsibilities to consider, we’d definitely have stayed for another go. I’d have loved the opportunity to try out the other three indoor miniature golf courses too.
And Dan would have loved the opportunity to beat me…