Culture | August 19, 2022 7:00 am

Puttery Wants to Be Your Pop Art-Centric Putt-Putt Destination of Choice

Welcome to your new favorite mini-golf experience

One of Puttery's courses
One of Puttery's courses
Puttery

Once upon a time, 800 F Street NW was home to the International Spy Museum. No longer dedicated to the art of espionage, the space is now home to another kind of art: the delicate dance of nailing a hole-in-one during a round of putt-putt.

Puttery DC is the latest entry into the putt-putt craze that’s in full swing throughout DC, joining Dupont’s — and soon-to-be Navy Yard’s — Swingers; Penn Quarter’s indoor golf simulator Five Iron Golf; downtown’s CitySwing and H Street NE’s (aptly named) H Street Country Club. Owned and operated by Drive Shack (a “leading owner and operator of golf-related leisure and entertainment businesses), Puttery DC is the third US location for the brand, following spots in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Dallas, Texas — with more on the way.

Like other modern putt-putt installations, Puttery is just as much about the whole experience as it is about playing a round of mini-golf. To wit: the 19,000-square-foot building houses three courses (more on that later) and two separate bar areas — one right by the entrance, big enough for a casual drink before an event at Capital One Arena or while you’re waiting for the rest of your party to arrive, and another, much larger bar in the back portion. Guests don’t need to tee off to enjoy the food and drink, of which there is plenty. The menu swaps bar food for a country club vibe, with a charcuterie board, tuna tostadas, veggie potstickers, bruschetta and extensive pizza offerings. The drink menu features a mixture of craft cocktails (“BBQ on a Saturday Night,” with its smoked peach notes, would likely thrill attendees at Augusta National), zero-proof cocktails and a sizable beer list. 

Puttery’s courses are no slouch either: With three separate offerings, Puttery easily has the most varied options of any spot in town. Each of the nine-hole courses is designed with a unique theme. Considering the proximity to the National Gallery, an Art Museum course shouldn’t be a huge surprise. Lined with plenty of Pop Art and Andy Warhol-style vibes, the course is likely to be an Instagram-able favorite. The Conservatory course delivers golfers to an amalgamation of the deserts of West Texas, the expansive redwoods of Northern California and the cherry blossom trees of Japan — all in one location. Things get decidedly trippier in the Illusion course, where the holes feel pulled from a mini golf-centric scene in a David Lynch movie. The digital-based scoring system — Puttery claims all you need to is “plug in your score on the digital scorecard at each hole” — makes pen and paper a non-issue and lets patrons keep their drinks in hand accordingly. 

It’s easy enough to secure a tee time. Online reservations can be made up to 10 days ahead of time for groups of up to four people; once you’re there, you have 90 minutes. That means that you don’t have an assigned time, so it’s slightly first-come, first-served on the day, with groups going out every five minutes. Naturally, Puttery can be booked for private events, big or small.

I recently visited Puttery and was impressed by what I saw during my brief visit. The food is both tasty and decently priced, while I found the cocktails to be good if not entirely worth the $16 price tag. The space is extremely well done; while I didn’t visit at peak hours, I felt there was more than enough space to walk around without feeling crowded in both the hallways and the two different bars.

It’s hard to find space in the city for any golfing experience, but Puttery is taking a big swing on the DC market to show up accordingly. Based on what I’ve seen, the foundation for success is there. To put it in golf terms, they’ve teed up the ball nicely.