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Regulation of the Day 221: Miniature Golf Courses

Miniature golf is a much more accessible sport than the real thing. Almost anyone can play. You don’t need to drive the ball 200 yards to get a decent score; 200 inches is more than enough. In fact, many players don’t much care what their score is at all. They’re just playing for fun, and trying to dodge the obstacles.

Less fun are the surprisingly detailed federal regulations intended to ensure the game’s accessibility to all. Course owners aren’t too happy about the new Americans with Disabilities Act requirements that came into effect on March 15, though construction firms must be delighted at the windfall Washington just sent them.

The federal government regulates the slopes of miniature golf courses. The new standard “permits a slope of 1:4 maximum for a 4 inch rise where the accessible route is located on the playing surface of a hole.”

If a course uses artificial turf instead of grass, it also regulates length for the fibers. The height of the “grass” shall not exceed half an inch.

The so-called “start of play” areas must be at least 48” x 60”, and shall not have a slope steeper than 1:48.

There’s more, too. You can read the Federal Register entry explaining the federal government’s new miniature golf policies here. In the meantime, one can expect the ADA's unparalleled track record as lawsuit fodder to continue.