Owned by Swedish couple Thomas Andersson and Pia Holm, Phuket Adventure Mini Golf is a labour of love from people who have always found an opportunity when others saw none.
“There are more tourists here now than four years ago,” Holmes says about the Cherng Talay business which is near Surin beach.
Usually the words “mini golf” (certainly to this American) conjure up visions of cheesy décor, tacky colours and outlandish themes – something akin to a fake amusement park.
This place, however, mimics the look and feel of a traditional golf course but in a scaled-down version (for the record it’s a par 59 course with 2,500 sq m of artificial grass).
“We have some people who stay here all day,” Holmes says with a smile. “They play a round of 18 holes and then have a drink. Then do it over again all day. It's pretty relaxing.”
Though the mini golf drives people in, it's the restaurant – dubbed “Off Course” – that keeps them on-site. The eatery serves some of the most underrated pizza (over 15 different kinds) on the island, along with 12 different kinds of burgers.
Steaks and calzone round out the mains menu, with desserts like a cheesecake and a banana longtail (a grilled banana stuffed with chocolate, crushed cashew nuts served with ice cream) providing some reward for a round of golf.
The couple opened Phuket Adventure Mini Golf in late 2011 after five years of owning the Bungalow Resort right on Bang Tao beach.
Guests at their 50-room resort, a majority of whom were families, kept inquiring about family activities in the area. At the time, other than the beach and some general leisure activities that the resort provided, boredom could set in.
“There was nothing to do in the evening until we came along. Everybody was asking us what to do at night,” Andersson says.
Today, the couple manage a thriving business, but managing a restaurant and recreational space is nothing new for the couple.
For 23 years, Andersson ran his own entertainment venue in his native Gothenburg, Sweden: a pool hall with a sports pub on the side that served food. It was at this venue that Andersson met Holmes in 2002 and the couple fell in love.
The allure of a warm climate and easy living was too much for the couple and they moved to Phuket in 2006 after selling the venue. But as long as they were together, it didn't matter where they were.
“You could send me to the north pole selling ice cubes and I would do it to be together,” Andersson says.