This had the potential to be one of Londonist's shortest ever features. All we needed to say was "GUYS. You can play dinosaur mini golf in London." BOOM. Drop the mic, walk away.
This, however, is apparently "Not what we pay you for, Rachel". Fine. So let's talk dino mini golf. There are several places around London where you can hit balls under the watchful eyes of various plastic creatures, but we chose to wander down the scenic delights of the A20 in Sidcup to Mr Mulligan's Dino Golf.
The theme clearly started off as a bit of a desert island/marooned survivors vibe with lurid blue waterfalls, some statues of jungle animals and a crashed 'helicopter', which from the back looks like a shopping trolley half-submerged in a pond (added bonus if you see a bored duck having a nap; added non-bonus for the amount of bitey insect life flourishing in said pond). But then the owners added a bunch of dinosaurs. And why not.
There are two trails/golf courses to follow. We picked Matelys over Explorers, primarily because we were a child-free party and Explorers looked like it was more popular with the ankle-biters. The Matelys course is definitely the duller: some of the 'greens' have no tricks or challenges at all.
Still, this did lead to the unedifying spectacle of several grown adults repeatedly being unable to putt a brightly coloured spheroid into a metal cup from a foot away. (We suck at mini golf.) This is not a course for anyone who, in the words of one of our number, wants a dinosaur to eat the ball and then crap it out. All the kids seemed happy enough though.
But what of — you ask, because you're a discerning person — the dinosaurs? Well, a couple are animatronic but they've seen better days. Which is weird, considering they're relatively new. The T-Rex at the final hole has a load of sellotape round its mouth to stop its foam tongue falling out and the stegosaurus has a broken tail.
You could say that it has a steg-o-sore-arse. The thing is: yes, they're a bit crap, but they're endearingly crap. It's a bit faded seaside resort, a bit Elephant and Castle shopping centre. The experience could definitely be improved with more dinosaurs and less golf. BOOM.
All puns in this article courtesy of Matt Brown.
Where to play dinosaur mini golf in London
Mr Mulligan's Dino Golf, Sidcup
Price: £8.50 adults/£6 children for a round of 18 holes (takes about 90 minutes)
Opening hours: Monday-Thursday 9am-10pm, Friday 9am-9pm, Saurday-Sunday 9am-8pm, bank holiday closing 8pm
Directions: off the A20 Sidcup by-pass. If coming by public transport, New Eltham train station is a 15 minute walk away but does involve crossing a stepped footbridge. The 162 bus stops at Brownspring Drive behind the golf centre, about five minutes walk away.
Jurassic Encounter, New Malden
Price: £9-£10adults/£7-£8 children for a round of 18 holes
Opening hours: Summer — 9am-9pm. Winter — Monday-Friday 10am-9pm, weekends and bank holidays 9am-9pm
Directions: off the A3 Beverley Way. New Malden train station is a 15 minute walk away. The 265 bus towards Putney Bridge stops outside (get off at Beverley Way Golf Range) but be warned: the bus in the opposite direction involves crossing a dual carriageway via a footbridge.
Dinosaur Safari, Arkley
Price: £9 adults/£7 children/£28 family for a round of 18 holes
Opening hours: 9am-7.30pm
Directions: not strictly in London this one, but just north of Barnet off the A1 Barnet by-pass. Pedestrian access is tricky: it's a 25 minute walk from the Rowley Green bus stop (107 bus) up a road with very narrow or non-existent footpaths. Best to drive.
Dinosaur Escape, Northolt
Price: £9 adult/£7 children/£28 family for a round of 18 holes
Opening hours: 9am-dusk
Directions: off the A40 at the Ruislip/Northolt/Polish War Memorial exit. The E7 bus stops outside — get off at Henson Place/Old Ruislip Road.