Regulation of the Day 221: Miniature Golf Courses

by Ryan Young on June 28, 2012 · 10 comments

in Regulation, Regulation of the Day

Miniature golf is a much more accessible sport than the real thing. Almost anyone can play. You don’t need to drive the ball 200 yards to get a decent score; 200 inches is more than enough. In fact, many players don’t much care what their score is at all. They’re just playing for fun, and trying to dodge the obstacles.

Less fun are the surprisingly detailed federal regulations intended to ensure the game’s accessibility to all. Course owners aren’t too happy about the new Americans with Disabilities Act requirements that came into effect on March 15, though construction firms must be delighted at the windfall Washington just sent them.

The federal government regulates the slopes of miniature golf courses. The new standard “permits a slope of 1:4 maximum for a 4 inch rise where the accessible route is located on the playing surface of a hole.”

If a course uses artificial turf instead of grass, it also regulates length for the fibers. The height of the “grass” shall not exceed half an inch.

The so-called “start of play” areas must be at least 48” x 60”, and shall not have a slope steeper than 1:48.

There’s more, too. You can read the Federal Register entry explaining the federal government’s new miniature golf policies here. In the meantime, one can expect the ADA’s unparalleled track record as lawsuit fodder to continue.

EBL June 30, 2012 at 9:15 am

I agree with this article. Some regulation of construction is warranted… Unfortunately the focus is in the wrong place.

UpintheOaks July 2, 2012 at 11:15 am

I remember a time when there were mini-golf courses everywhere! This law will not make these more accessible to the handicapped, it will remove them from America. Take pictures, everyone, it will be all we have left.

Kyle Morgan July 2, 2012 at 11:15 am

Personally, I feel that in a free world / country, it should be optional for private enterprises to meet or not meet the ADA regulations. I believe that if anything, all they perhaps could be required to put up a sign saying their faciility either meets, or does not meet, the ADA guidelines.

What’s next for the ADA? Close all the painting galleries because blind people can’t see the paintings?

UpintheOaks July 2, 2012 at 11:16 am

Take pictures of your mini-golf courses, everyone. Pictures will soon be all we have left.

Robert July 5, 2012 at 9:11 am

Yeah, screw the disabled! They shouldn’t be allowed to have any fun in their miserable lives anyway. They should just stay home so we don’t have to see them!

What? I’m just summarizing what’s being implied here. Regulations are not automatically bad. This same nonsense was spouted when wheel chair ramps became required.

Mike July 8, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I think this is probably an idea that started with good intentions and will end in poor results. Laws simply cannot be universal and work for everyone, they need to be just as dynamic as the disabled they are trying to empower. For example a blind person will have no idea how much they are being charged in an NYC taxi (currently) but they will find braille on any keypad at any drive-through ATM.

Kyle Morgan July 9, 2012 at 10:20 am

I don’t see anyone here saying saying “screw the disabled”.

Depending on each individual’s physical (or mental) abilities or lack thereof, there are things people can and cannot to.

For example, it’s not a recognized as a “handicap” by the ADA, but I am older and have bad knees. There’s no way I could climb Mount Everest. However, I realize that I don’t have the physical ability to climb mountains, and I’m not going to try to get a government to MANDATE BY LAW that there must be escalators to the top of EVERY mountain so I can get to the top. If there’s a place I can ride a cable car to the top, I’ll go there. Some places have installed these type of devices because they recognize it’s a good business practice and will make them more money. I CAN support these places by choosing to spend my money there rather than at a place that doesn’t have them.

Is it fair that people in wheelchairs and can’t do certain physical things? Is it fair that blind people cannot see the paintings in art galleries? It it fair that the radio serves no purpose to deaf people? No. However, life is inherently unfair. Private industry shouldn’t be forced to retroactively change things at their own expense to make everything retroactively accessible to all people.

Based on some opinons, we SHOULD put escalators or elevators to the top of every mountain, and to the bottom of every cave or cavern…

Now, if they were just going to put the regulations in place for NEW CONSTRUCTION of mini golf places, it would be a different story.

Robert — You should read some of Kurt Vonnegut’s short stories about “equalizing the playing field” so to speak, so everyone is on the same functional level and no one has access to anything that isn’t accessible to all… specifically, Harrison Bergeron (

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