The Puttery is the latest player in the Strip District rebirth. The Smallman Street indoor miniature golf venue joins new housing, eateries, bars, galleries and other entertainment joints in the former industrial district once dominated by railyards, a produce terminal and factories.
Miniature golf is nothing new to Pittsburgh. And neither is indoor golf. An indoor golf craze swept the city in the 1910s. The Steel City’s first known indoor golf venue, the Stanton Heights Golf Club, opened in 1911. The nine-hole course marked a “new epoch in local golfdom,” reported the Pittsburgh Daily Post.
Over the next 20 years, other venues followed. Kaufmann’s Downtown store opened a mini-golf course in 1914 and another opened in the Century Building. In 1920, the Honus Wagner Sporting Goods Company offered indoor golf at its Wood Street location.
A decade later, indoor golf establishments opened in the Hill District, including the Egyptian Indoor Golf Gardens at the city’s Crossroads of the World — Fullerton Street and Wylie Avenue — and one in the Pythian Temple (New Granada Theater building).
Even William A. “Woogie” Harris, one of the city’s best-known numbers bankers, learned some business chops by offering indoor golf at his family’s Masio Hotel on Wylie Avenue.
The Puttery, like those earlier indoor golf outings, caters to adults.
Pittsburgh’s Puttery is the chain’s sixth indoor golf venture in the country. A subsidiary of Texas-based Drive Shack, Puttery is an entertainment-oriented counterpart to the company’s outdoor golf business, which includes 53 traditional and four outdoor miniature courses, in addition to the Puttery locations it operates.
“We try to provide an adult-only atmosphere with our immersive competitive socializing innovative technology with curated culinary offerings and inventive craft cocktails,” says Greg Kithcart, general manager of Pittsburgh Puttery.
Pittsburgh’s growing high-tech and office sectors are what attracted the chain to the city. The rapidly transforming Strip’s proximity to Downtown makes it a prime spot for the business that prefers dense urban sites.
“All of our locations are located in cities, thriving metropolis cities, and Pittsburgh, the Strip District in Pittsburgh, is definitely going through a revitalization,” Kithcart explains in-between preparations for the Feb. 17 grand opening.
Puttery occupies two stories and features three courses, two bars and food offerings.
“We are a high-end establishment, so 21 and older,” says Kithcart. “What we want our guests to do at the Puttery is to have an epic night out as they play, nosh, sip and chill.”
Pittsburgh’s Puttery’s three nine-hole courses each have a theme. The downstairs course is called the “Lodge” and the two upstairs ones are the “Library” and the “Garage.”
The Lodge recreates a hunting lodge, complete with a faux fireplace, mounted moose head and a rack of ski jackets.
The Library is a mashup featuring bookshelves, faux Tiffany lamps, a suit of armor and a dinosaur.
The Garage has a rack of tires, gas pumps and a couple of cars.
“Each Puttery has one mini-golf venue that is unique to that city,” says Kithcart. “Ours is the Garage, and if you go back into the Garage, you will get the nostalgic ’70s muscle car-themed feeling. We have bucket seats. We have a Harley motorcycle. We have a Mustang, part of a Ferrari.”
The courses have a high-tech feel, with electronic scoreboards tracking each golfer’s progress and a big screen where customers can tap into their competitive spirits.
Individuals and groups can make reservations online or try their luck as walk-ins. The business, explains Kithcart, is targeting organizations to book group visits.
“Part of what we want to do here is make our venue available to organizations that are looking to host employee outings,” he says.
It’s first come, first served and the price for each play is $18. Each round takes about 20 to 30 minutes. Golfers get a putter and a ball which must be returned at the end of play.
The Puttery is located at 1415 Smallman St. and is open seven days a week, with extended weekend hours. Reservations can be made online.