D.C. Has Oldest Mini Golf Course You’ve Never Played
It might lack cascading waterfalls, plush landscaping and challenging obstacles such as the classic windmill, but some might argue that the East Potomac Miniature Golf Course has remained true to its roots.
Those roots go back more than half a century, which might explain why the course isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as some of the newer ones out there. However, along with its seemingly simple 18 holes comes a fairly prominent title: “The Nation’s Oldest Miniature Golf Course.”
While that claim to fame is printed on the blue scorecards available at the starter’s shack, it’s unclear whether the course really is the oldest in the United States.
“What we believe is that it’s the oldest continually operated golf course in the country,” said Michael Williams, marketing director for Golf Course Specialists, the parent company that operates the three golf courses in Washington, D.C. — Rock Creek, Langston and East Potomac (including the miniature golf course).
The actual golf course at East Potomac Park (which features one 18-hole course and two 9-hole courses) has been around since 1921, but no one is 100 percent sure exactly when the miniature golf course opened. “I have conflicting dates,” Williams said. “The earliest date I have is 1929. The records, all the archives, were destroyed by a flood. There are very few records about the early days of this course, unfortunately.”
One record that is known, however, is that the miniature golf course is listed on the National Register for Historic Places. And of the estimated 4,000 miniature golf courses across the country, according to the Professional Miniature Golf Association, that’s probably something most of the others can’t boast.
The blue scorecard also states that the course is three blocks east of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, which makes it accessible yet still tucked away from the hubbub of all the activity along the National Mall. And as any golfer knows, the quiet makes for a prime golf-playing atmosphere.
While the 18-hole course might not look challenging, don’t be fooled: Some of those holes can give you a run for your money. The course starts off with a fairly easy par 2, but other holes that don’t seem difficult might just end up adding a few strokes to your final score.
For instance, there are a couple of holes that appear to be a breeze … once you successfully knock the ball up the steeper-than-you-thought hill or get the ball to fall into the opening that lets out near the “green” rather than placing you farther out of the way.
Now that fall has arrived, you can rest up during the week in preparation for a challenging game of miniature golf on the weekends, because the course is only open Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 8 p.m. But no worries — once the cold winter months come and go, the course will be open those same hours every day but Mondays, from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Despite the course not being Metro accessible, it’s well worth the drive to squeeze in an 18-hole game. Afterward, you can go home and brag that you’ve played on the nation’s oldest miniature golf course.
East Potomac Miniature Golf
Address: 972 Ohio Drive SW, Washington, D.C. 20024.
Getting There Via Metro: The course is not easily accessible by Metrorail and is not serviced by Metrobus, but if you’re in the mood for a stroll, you can walk the approximately 1.35 miles from the Smithsonian Metrorail station.
Getting There Via Car: If you have access to a vehicle, driving is definitely the best course of action as there is plenty of free parking available. Just shoot down Ohio Drive from Independence Avenue.
For More Information: Visit www.golfdc.com/gc/ep/mini.htm or call (202) 488-8087.