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Mini-golf master stroke. Ralph Smith

Your local putt-putt spot is a silly land of spinning windmills and laughing clowns. But the tacky surroundings don’t mean you can’t go all Jack Nicklaus and totally freakin’ dominate those baby greens. The putting skills you refine while dodging miniature Stonehenges can help on the big-kid course too. Here’s the pro-grade gear you need to destroy your friends at the shortest short game.

1. Practice first.

The PuttOut is a serious training tool. A well-struck ball, with the force and trajectory to go in the hole, will roll up the plastic ramp, then back toward you. Hit too hard and the ball will launch off the back; wayward shots will fall off the side.

2. Picture success

Markings on the Wellputt Pro mat help you visualize every element of a perfect hit. Guidelines on the 10-​foot-​long turf show the right backswing distance and ideal ball paths. The drills in the included book will help hone your skills.

3. Choose your tool

The Odyssey Exo Seven‘s head is aluminum in the center and stainless steel around the edges, a design that puts more weight around its perimeter. That helps the face stay square so you can hit the ball straight.

4. Roll the right way

Don’t be fooled by the poppy covers on the Volvik Vivid balls: They’re not like the cheap rocks at a typical mini-golf course. An extra-soft exterior with a matte finish helps them grip the turf and roll true instead of sliding over the terrain.

5. Read the green

Thanks to their polarization and tint, the lenses in Oakley’s Targetline Prizm Golf sunglasses help reveal the bumps and curves in the putting surface. Thick arms also help block glare and any distracting friends.

This article was originally published in the Fall 2018 Tiny issue of Popular Science.

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