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How to Start a Mini Golf Course

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Mini Golf Course

Fast Facts

Investment range

$275,800 - $422,300

Revenue potential

$312,000 - $624,000 p.a.

Time to build

6 – 12 months

Profit potential

$93,000 - $186,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Full-time

Mini golf is a great activity for families or even for a date night. Many mini golf courses also have other activities available, such as driving ranges, batting cages, or an arcade. If you are a mini golf lover, you could start your own mini golf course and get in on a $360 million industry in the U.S. 

But first, you’ll need to understand the business of mini golf. Luckily, this step-by-step guide is teed up with all the business insights you need to start a successful mini golf course. 

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Help people have a fun time
  • Market is making a big comeback from the pandemic
  • Good profit potential

Cons

  • High startup costs
  • Need to find available land in a convenient location

Mini golf course industry trends

Industry size and growth

Mini Golf industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

Trends

  • Many mini golf courses today are themed, creating more immersive experiences.
  • Newly designed mini golf courses are attracting people of all ages.

Challenges

  • The increased popularity of online gaming is keeping teenagers away from mini golf courses.
  • Creating unique mini golf courses that attract people of all ages is getting more expensive.
Mini Golf Course Trends and Challenges

How much does it cost to start a mini golf course business?

Startup costs for a mini golf course range from $275,000 to $420,000 or more depending on the extent of the facilities. The largest cost is of course the construction of the course and facilities.

You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your mini golf course business, including: 

  • Facilities to make and serve food and beverages
  • Golf bag, putters and balls
  • Equipment to care for the greens
Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$100 - $500$300
Business licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Insurance$100-$500$300
Website$500 - $1,000$750
Land$30,000 - $50,000$40,000
Construction of course and facilitites$200,000 - $300,000$250,000
Equipment and supplies$20,000 - $30,000$25,000
Operating budget$20,000 - $30,000$25,000
Sales and marketing budget$5,000 - $10,000$7,500
Total$275,800 - $422,300$349,050

How much can you earn from a mini golf course business?

You can likely charge $7 to $10 for a round of mini golf. You can also earn revenue from other activities plus food and beverage sales. These calculations will assume that the average person will spend $12 at your course. Your profit margin should be about 30%. 

In your first year or two, you might have 500 customers a week, bringing in $312,000 in revenue. This would mean $93,000 in profit, assuming that 30% margin. 

As you gain traction, sales could climb to 1,000 customers a week.  With annual revenue of $624,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $186,000.

Mini Golf Course earning forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

The only real barrier to entry for a mini golf course is funding the startup costs.

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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a mini golf course, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research could give you the upper hand even if you’ve got the perfect product. Conducting robust market research is crucial, as it will help you better understand your customers, your competitors, and the broader business landscape.

Analyze your competitors 

Research mini golf courses in your area to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews.

  • Make a list of mini golf courses that offer similar services. 
  • Review your competitors’ services – their features, pricing, and quality – and marketing strategies
  • Check out their online reviews and ratings on Google, Yelp, and Facebook to get an idea of what their customers like and dislike.
  • Identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. 

This should identify areas where you can strengthen your business and gain a competitive edge to make better business decisions.

Why? Identify an opportunity

You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a jungle themed mini golf course or a mini golf course that sells beer.

You might consider targeting a niche, such as mini golf for families by offering other kid attractions.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Determine your services

In addition to mini golf rounds, many mini golf courses also have arcades, driving ranges, or batting cages to bring in additional revenue. Of course, building those facilities would add to your startup costs, but it would bring a higher profit over time. You should also consider having a snack stand to offer beverages and snacks like hot dogs and soft pretzels. 

How much should you charge for mini golf?

Your prices should be based on market prices in your area, but also on your operating costs. 

Once you know your costs, use our profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Your target market will likely be mainly families, but it could be people of all ages, so you should market on both Instagram and Facebook.

Where? Choosing the best mini golf course location

You’ll need to find land to lease or buy, so you should engage with a commercial real estate agent to help you. You’ll want a location that’s convenient and near family neighborhoods. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the perfect location for your mini golf course business:

  1. Target Audience: Near families, tourists, or specific age groups.
  2. Visibility: Roadside spots with good signage opportunities.
  3. Accessibility: Easy transport access and ample parking.
  4. Size & Terrain: Enough space for course & amenities; use natural landscapes.
  5. Competition: Avoid locations with many similar businesses.
  6. Regulations: Check zoning and permits.
  7. Climate: Favorable weather or consider shelter provisions.
  8. Nearby Amenities: Close to restaurants, shops, or attractions.
  9. Safety: Good area safety and lighting for evenings.
  10. Costs: Ensure lease or purchase fits your budget.
  11. Growth Potential: Space for expansion; growing neighborhood.
  12. Feedback: Test interest with temporary setups.
  13. Environmental Impact: Ensure no harm to local ecosystems.
  14. Expert Advice: Consult local real estate and business experts.
Mini Golf Course idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Miniature Golf Course Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “mini golf” or “mini golf course”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “PlayExpand Greens” and “OmniPutt Ventures” over “PuttParadise Lanes” and “TwilightTurf Mini Golf”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead and reserve your business name with your state, start the trademark registration process, and complete your domain registration and social media account creation. 

Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick a name, reserve it and start with the branding, it’s hard to switch to a new name. So be sure to carefully consider your choice before moving forward. 

Step 4: Create a Miniature Golf Course Business Plan

Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:

  • Executive Summary: Summarize the key highlights and objectives of your mini golf course business, including its location, target audience, and unique features.
  • Business Overview: Provide an overview of your mini golf course, including its theme, size, and the types of mini golf experiences it offers, such as themed courses or special events.
  • Product and Services: Describe the various mini golf services you provide, such as regular rounds of golf, special packages for events or parties, and any additional amenities like a snack bar or arcade.
  • Market Analysis: Analyze the local and regional market for mini golf entertainment, considering factors like population demographics, tourism potential, and the demand for family-friendly activities.
  • Competitive Analysis: Identify and evaluate other mini golf courses in the area, highlighting what makes your course unique, such as innovative course designs or pricing strategies.
  • Sales and Marketing: Outline your marketing strategies for attracting customers, including social media campaigns, partnerships with local businesses, and promotions for special events.
  • Management Team: Introduce the team responsible for managing and operating the mini golf course, emphasizing their expertise in hospitality and entertainment.
  • Operations Plan: Detail the day-to-day operations of the mini golf course, covering aspects like hours of operation, staff roles, maintenance schedules, and customer service protocols.
  • Financial Plan: Present financial projections, including startup costs, revenue forecasts, operating expenses, and expected profitability for your mini golf course business.
  • Appendix: Include any additional materials that support your business plan, such as photos of the mini golf course layout, marketing materials, and financial statements.
what to include in a business plan

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to mini golf courses. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your mini golf course will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts. Here’s how to form an LLC.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation. Read how to start a corporation here.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
types of business structures

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have. 

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a mini golf course business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.  

types of business financing

Step 8: Apply for Business Licenses/Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a mini golf course business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your mini golf course business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.  

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as Gatemaster, or BMI Leisure, to manage your bookings, registrations, and payments.

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.

Create a website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

Your customers are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. 

Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Book Course Now”. This can sharply increase purchases.

Marketing

Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

  1. Engage the Community: Connect with local schools, community centers, and youth groups to organize mini golf events, fostering a sense of community and bringing in potential customers.
  2. Themed Nights and Events: Host themed nights, such as glow-in-the-dark mini golf or costume contests, to create memorable experiences that encourage repeat visits and positive word-of-mouth.
  3. Partnerships with Local Businesses: Collaborate with nearby restaurants or ice cream shops for cross-promotional deals, providing discounts for customers who visit both establishments.
  4. Social Media Challenges: Launch engaging challenges on social media platforms, encouraging visitors to share their best mini golf moments with specific hashtags for a chance to win free rounds or other incentives.
  5. Student Discounts and Packages: Offer special discounts for students or create packages for birthdays and special occasions, making your mini golf course an attractive option for diverse customer segments.
  6. Loyalty Programs: Implement a loyalty program that rewards frequent visitors with discounts, free rounds, or exclusive access to events, encouraging customer retention.
  7. Local Influencer Collaborations: Partner with local influencers or bloggers to review and promote your mini golf course, leveraging their audience and credibility to increase awareness.
  8. Corporate Team-Building Packages: Develop team-building packages for local businesses, providing a unique and entertaining venue for corporate events and fostering a positive work environment.
  9. Referral Discounts: Institute a referral program where current customers receive discounts or bonuses for referring friends and family to experience your mini golf course.
  10. Seasonal Promotions: Create seasonal promotions, such as holiday-themed mini golf courses or summer family packages, to capitalize on specific times of the year and attract diverse customer groups.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your mini golf course meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your mini golf course business could be: 

  • Putt your way to excitement and adventure on our uniquely designed, one-of-a-kind mini golf course.
  • Embark on a mini golf journey like no other, with our interactive and imaginative course that captivates players of all ages.
  • Experience the perfect blend of fun and challenge with our meticulously crafted mini golf holes that keep players entertained and engaged.
unique selling proposition

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a mini golf course business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in mini golf for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in mini golf courses. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

You will need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a mini golf course business include:

  • Course attendants – guest registrations, customer service
  • Snack bar attendants – sell food and beverages
  • Maintenance workers – maintain courses
  • General manager – scheduling, accounting

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run a Mini Golf Course Business – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

Mini golf courses are making a big comeback since the pandemic, as people want to get out and enjoy activities. Now could be the perfect time to start your own mini golf course to help your community have fun and to get in on a rebounding industry. 

Now that you understand how the business works, you’re ready to find a property and get your successful mini golf course running!

Mini Golf Course Business FAQs

Is a mini golf course profitable?

A mini golf course can be a profitable business if well-managed and attracts a steady stream of customers. Profitability depends on factors such as location, pricing, marketing efforts, competition, and customer experience. Most see a return on investment in one to three years.

What happens during a typical day at a mini golf course?

During a typical day at a mini golf course, customers arrive and register at a counter or booth where they pay for their round. They are provided with putters, balls, and scorecards. Customers then play through the course, navigating obstacles and challenges. Staff members are available to assist and ensure smooth operations. Regular maintenance and landscaping are carried out, and some courses offer additional amenities such as concessions, seating areas, or party facilities.

What is the growth potential of a mini golf course?

The growth potential of a mini golf course depends on factors like location, local demographics, competition, and demand for recreational activities. Effective marketing, good maintenance, and expanding offerings can contribute to growth.

What type of business is a mini golf course?

A mini golf course is a leisure and entertainment business within the recreational industry. It caters to individuals, families, friends, and groups seeking an enjoyable and relaxed activity. Additional services like party hosting, event rentals, concessions, and merchandise sales may also be provided.

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How to Start a Mini Golf Course