Modular system for miniature golf lanes.
Version of Wednesday 3 July 2019.
Dave Barber's other pages.

Section 1. This report introduces a modular system for constructing lanes for miniature golf. The re-usable parts may be assembled into a wide variety of configurations, and later taken apart for storage, shipment, or assembly into other layouts.

The parts are intended to be installed, indoors or outdoors, on a hard, smooth, level surface such as a floor or pavement. A slight slope (under 2%) is not a major drawback, although expert players will need to take it into account.

Caution: The term "Putt-Putt" is often used to refer to miniature golf in general, but it is a trademark of the Putt-Putt Corporation of North Carolina USA, which franchises its version of the game.

Section 2. Figure 1a is a diagram of a very simple lane, perhaps suitable for a children's course. With enough parts, any level of complexity can be achieved.


The parts may be any combination of colors, or all the same color. Coloration is employed in this report for clarity; in particular, panels with tees or cups are yellow and other panels are not. In an actual installation, colors might be used for decoration, or to support an unconventional scoring scheme.

Figure 1b is 1a exploded.


Figure 1c is like 1a, but shows a grid of regular triangles, which are essential to the design. Further, each contains a reference marking. The cup is drawn larger than normal to make room for the reference letter.


The joints in the fences need not align with the joints in the panels; this flexibility arises from the modularity.

Figure 1d is the same layout, except that all the panels and fences are of minimum size:


Section 3. Dimensions of the parts are at will.

The designer of the system needs to first specify a basic modular length (BML). A probable value would be around 20 inches ≈ 50 centimeters. The following measurements depend on the BML:

The following measurements do not depend on the BML:

Section 4. Recommended is that panels be convex rather than concave. In a likely implementation, panels will have mortises and tenons, on their edges below the putting surface, to ensure correct alignment. Concave panels might be impossible to fit together, particularly if the concavity is acute. A second reason to bar concave panels is as a discipline to keep the catalog of possible panels down to a manageable number.

figure 2a
not recommended

As a minor exception, the tee panel of figures 1a-b-c has two concavities intended to give the player sufficient foot room. Because no other panels are ever to be fitted into these areas, no problem arises.

A panel catalog displays some panel shapes and sizes that are likely to be useful. It shows the 39 convex panels containing as many as 15 triangles. Concave panels would number in the thousands, some with holes.

Section 5. Figure 3a shows the four most useful shapes of fence, differing in the combinations of angles at their ends. These examples happen to length of 2 BMLs, and are spread out to show how a fence would partially overlap a panel.


The lane of figure 3b uses all four of these shapes, in various lengths, and has an island. The ability to create islands is helpful indoors if a pillar is in the way, or outdoors if a light standard obstructs.


The fence shapes of figure 3a are adequate if the edges of the panel assembly always form 120-degree angles; many designers would consider this "120 rule" a small price to pay for simplicity. On the other hand, fences such as those of figure 3c become necessary for 60-degree angles. A fence catalog shows many more.


Figure 3d uses several of the 60-degree fences. Although there is a straight-line path from the tee to the cup on this lane, a ball that deviates very far from it will hit a fence and bounce in an undesirable direction.


Figure 3e has two triangular islands.


Figure 3f has three.


Not currently supported is a fence with panels on both sides, as in figure 3g (E4-C1, E6-F1, C2-F3).

figure 3g
not currently

Section 6. Many shapes of tee panels are possible; four are shown below. In the "alone" column, the white dotted lines on the exteriors of the tees indicate the only edges to which other panels may be attached. Other edges prohibit attachment in order to give the player a consistent surface (namely, the floor) to stand on for their stroke from tee.

alone in context
figure 4a
tee type A
figure 4b
tee type B
see figures
1a-b-c-d and 3-b-d-e-f
figure 4c
tee type C
figure 4d
tee type D

Section 7. There are many ways to make a lane more difficult. Most of these are helpful when a challenging course must be installed in a limited area.

A first way is to change its overall shape by lengthening it, or adding turns, offsets, and islands.
A second way is for panels to have different textures. Some might have a rolling surface that is smooth, others might be like felt, and yet others like carpet. The texture will of course affect the speed of the ball; but if it does not affect the direction of roll, it is said to be indirigent. Of course, the alternative, a dirigent texture, might be chosen for additional interest, possibly implemented by trimming a carpet's tufts unevenly. In a comprehensive scheme, a designer could simulate the green, apron, fairway, and rough of a full-size golf course.
A third way is to have panels that are not entirely level. In figure 5a, a lane of the same overall shape as figure 1a is made considerably more difficult by the insertion of a dome (represented by a lighter area on a blue panel) and a bowl (darker on green). The ball can readily roll over the dome or through the bowl. The change in slope is always gradual, so that the ball is never abruptly deflected either vertically or horizontally.

Because putting is a precision game, a gentle rise or fall of 2in ≈ 5cm (or even half that) can make a great difference in the path of the ball. Unless the ball crosses the dome or bowl through its center, the ball will not roll straight but will somehow curve. Beginners may find this deviation frustrating, but experts may deem it useful.


The undulation need not be circular in format. Ridges, straight or curved, are entirely feasible, as are entirely irregular shapes. The undulation will almost certainly be manufactured into the panel rather than added later.

A fourth way is to have obstructions, possibly made of the same material as fences, off which the ball will bounce. A suitable height would be 4in ≈ 10cm, the same as the distance that the fences rise above the putting surface. They may be of any shape and size. In figure 5b are examples shown in light gray, one square, one circular.


The design of the parts will likely be such that an obstruction can simply be attached to a completed panel, rather then manufactured integral with it.