Puttshack mini-golf opens in RiNo with cool vibes, nostalgia

Remember going to the ocean for summer vacation and after you got burned sufficiently at the beach you’d go play mini golf at that crappy little beat-up course with fake pirates shouting “AVAST, me hearties” through tinny speakers and little waterfalls that would sweep your ball away?

This ain’t that.

Puttshack — a tech-infused, mini-golf facility with a bar and restaurant — opens at 4 p.m. on Friday, May 26, in the RiNo neighborhood. It’s got four separate, nine-hole courses, two of which are ADA-compliant. The national chain — with six other locations around the country, including Austin and Boston — was started by the guys behind Top Golf (and look what a boondoggle that turned out to be).

The balls have a “mini iPad” inside of them, according to a spokeswoman, patented Trackaball technology that keeps track of who is hitting the ball, the score and standings. And don’t worry about careening balls: There are little blocks about a foot behind the “tees” to prevent tipsy wildmen from sending one careening into your face.

Each course has enough cute bells, flashing lights, trivia and challenges to make for a fun night in a beautiful space decked out in nostalgia. Its bright colors, cool neon Ideoli signs and retro decor, high ceilings and gorgeous bar create a comfy setting to just hang out in. MTV-style videos run on monitors non-stop, but a spokeswoman said Rockies games will be available and a DJ will be on hand weekends.

Have 600 friends you want to party with? Puttshack’s 24,500 square feet of space — plus a 1,200-square-foot patio with a mural currently being painted by Denver artist Bobby Magee Lopez — can accommodate you.

On the menu: a selection of internationally themed flatbreads, sandwiches, salads and shareables that include pulled pork Korean BBQ Bao Buns ($14), Denver Tailpipes ($14, $1 of which goes to charity), and Shitake Mushroom Potstickers ($12). When we were there, the standout by far was the empanadas ($12), crunchy little puff-pastry pies of deliciousness filled with chorizo and cheese and other tasty stuff, and topped with a zingy chimichurri sauce. (Exec chef Jimmy Jump — formerly with Guard and Grace —  says they are made by Lady Velasquez, and since they are so good I think she deserves to see her name in this preview.)

The beverage offerings are pretty substantial, with a good selection of wine, beer, spirits and craft cocktails — like a Spiced Pineapple Mezcal Margarita ($16) — and even shots (like the Lemon Drop, for $7).

Each round of golf is $14 per person. Two of us went through one nine-hole course in about 20 minutes, so it’s a pretty quick thrill. But since the venue is so welcoming, you won’t mind hanging out.

And ask for Lady’s empanadas.

Puttshack, 2813 Blake St., Denver. Open Sun.-Wed., 11 a.m. to midnight, Thurs.-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Kids can play until 8 p.m. Prebooking your party at puttshack.com is encouraged. On weekdays until 4 p.m., the second game is 50 percent off. 

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